Spring is traditionally a time of lovers as well as of rebirth and change. Poets often associate love with the beauty and apparent simplicity of nature, while the idealized natural setting can be used as a contrast to the vices and machinations of the “real” external world. In the comedy As you Like it, Shakespeare both uses and gently mocks the pastoral and courtly traditions. He exposes family jealousies, particularly that jealousy of goodness that seems to afflict certain Shakespearean characters, but he also demonstrates the strength of good and loyal bonds. Through the setting of the forest of Arden, Shakespeare contrasts the corrupt world of the court with the natural world while also exploring the excesses of love, lust, and melancholy present even in the forest. He plays with disguises, reveals truth, and offers chances of redemption as assorted lovers indulge in folly and confusion and eventually sort themselves out with reasonable success. The poetry and songs of the play add to its richness. Escape reality to greet the spring with Rosalind, Orlando, Jaques, Touchstone, and others. Although we will access some samples of performances of the play, I hope you will be willing to read aloud as we discuss the play. The Pelican edition of As you Like it by William Shakespeare has good footnotes without telling you what to think, and I strongly recommend it, but other editions are fine as long as they indicate the lines of the play.
Instructor Ann Nesslage is a graduate of Vassar with a masters in British literature from Bryn Mawr. Ann retired from Choate Rosemary Hall where she taught different levels of literature including British Studies and world literature. She also created electives in fantasy literature, satire, Early Irish and Welsh literature, and other topics. Ann lives in Bremen where she enjoys reading and gardening and serves on the Bremen Conservation Commission and the library board. She is also a member of the CSC board and the Curriculum Committee.
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