56 pages 1 hour read

William Shakespeare

As You Like It

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1599

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Important Quotes

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“I / know you are my eldest brother, and in gentle / condition of blood you should so know me. The / courtesy of nations allows you my better, in that you / are the first-born, but the same tradition takes not / away my blood, were there twenty brothers betwixt / us. I have as much of my father in me as you, albeit I / confess your coming before me is nearer to his / reference.” 


(Act I, Scene 1, Lines 43-51)

Orlando criticizes his brother Oliver for taking advantage of the “courtesy of nations.” By that, he means the custom of primogeniture, by which the first-born son inherits the father’s estate. Orlando criticizes primogeniture itself, saying that he is as much a part of his father as Oliver and that their only difference is in order of birth.

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“Marry, I prithee do, to make sport withal; but / love no man in good earnest, nor no further in / sport neither than with safety of pure blush thou / mayst in honor come off again.” 


(Act I, Scene 2, Lines 26-29)

Celia warns Rosalind to not take love too seriously. She believes it too serious a topic for joking and that they risk dishonor by discussing it. This foreshadows Rosalind’s love for Orlando, whom she will soon meet. By the end of the play, however, Celia will herself fall in love.

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“The more pity that fools may not speak / wisely what men do foolishly.” 


(Act I, Scene 2, Lines 85-86)

The fool Touchstone jokes that the words of fools are never taken seriously due to their joking nature. However, their comments on the foolish actions of others might in fact be wise. This is a common theme across Shakespeare’s plays, many of which contain a stock “fool” character.

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