The play As You Like It is a romantic comedy that utilizes the setting of a pastoral comedy too. Love is its major theme because all major characters in the play fall in love. Through different couples, Shakespeare portrays different aspects of love.
The heroine of the play is Rosalind. There are three types of love that one sees through her character.
- First is her love for Orlando. Both of them fall for each other at first sight. Love, at first sight, is the central theme of the whole play.
- Second, comes her love for Celia, her cousin’s sister who loves her back more selflessly.
- Through Rosalind, we also come to understand the fatherly love which she gets from her father, the banished Duke Senior.
The play shows the realization of love in various forms. The relation between Celia and Rosalind shows the love between two women. The intensity of their dedication is probably on a level with the love between Rosalind and Orlando.
Celia, from the very first instance, when her father banishes Rosalind from the palace, shows an immense dedication for Rosalind and does everything to makes Rosalind more and more prominent.
Orlando’s love for Rosalind forms the major relation of the play. He writes love poems for her and carves on the tree. He is a gentleman with all courtly manners so they also show the whole courtly process of the love of that age.
In a courtly manner, he is tried and tested by Rosalind in disguise of Ganymede. Their love shows the most elementary and innocent version.
In the Forest of Arden, apart from Rosalind and Orlando, Touchstone and Audrey also come together. Touchstone, in his characteristic cynicism, is not for the romantic version but he focuses more on physical desire.
Through the characters of Frederick-Duke Senior and Oliver-Orlando, the play deals with the nature of brotherly love. Both Frederick and Oliver are wrong at the very beginning of the play but in the forest of Arden, they go through a change of heart. Overall, the play’s central thematic concern is love in its various forms.