Theme of Nature in As You Like It

As You Like It is set in two opposite settings to bring out its thematic concern for Nature. The play begins in a courtly world where Orlando is facing the unjust treatment of his brother and Frederick has unlawfully banished his own brother and captured his dukedom.

All major characters are very soon in the Forest of Arden. The Forest of Arden provides an opportunity to deal with Nature and its various aspects.

Duke Senior addresses his other attendants in the forest regarding its beauty that “are not these woods more free from peril than the envious court?” and then he says that “this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.

From this very first speech in the forest, we come to understand what nature stands for. It may look hard but when one starts exploring it, it gives away its treasure. Here, Nature is the source of knowledge, the natural wisdom which comes to human beings by default when thought deeply in solitude.

In the forest of Arden, there is no regulation mostly found in human society. Nature is timeless so characters while roaming in the forest are completely free and restful and it makes them automatically philosophical.

Orlando demands from Duke Senior in the forest that “under the shade of melancholy boughs, lose and neglect the creeping hours of time.” Nature prevails over everything here. 

The light spirit of the play, the happy nature of the love of its characters comes from the natural mode provided by the forest of Arden. It stands in contrast to the courtly artificial life.

Here, in Nature, Oliver comes to understand the meaning of brotherhood and becomes the good brother of Orlando. Duke Frederick meanwhile understand his wrong deeds and gives back the dukedom to his rightful brother. 

From Rosalind finding simple yet sincere love poems for her stuck to trees to Touchstone finding a pastoral Audrey, everything good and curious in the play has to do with the influence of Nature so it is one of the major themes of the play.