->''All the world's a stage,''\\
''And all the men and women merely players.''\\
''They have their exits and their entrances;''\\
''And one man in his time plays many parts''\\
''His acts being seven ages...''
-->-- '''Jaques''', 2.7

A comedy by Creator/WilliamShakespeare. Like many of his lighter plays, this one focuses on young love, comic misunderstandings, and good ol' fashioned cross-dressing.

Duke Senior has been usurped by his brother, Frederick. He flees to a paradise-like forest called "The Forest of Arden," along with some servants and friends. His daughter, Rosalind, stays behind; she is the best friend of Frederick's daughter, Celia, and so he tolerates her-- for a while. Orlando, a young nobleman, sees Rosalind and instantly falls in love, but his older brother, Oliver, casts him out of his home. He, too, flees to the forest.

Eventually, Frederick becomes agitated with Rosalind, and she escapes to the woods with Celia and the court clown, Touchstone. To protect themselves, they don disguises-- Celia dresses as a woman called Aliena, and Rosalind pretends to be a man named Ganymede. They meet up with the servants of the true Duke (including a very depressed and depressing man called Jaques), who takes them in.

The majority of the plot is spent on the romances. Orlando, still in love with Rosalind, hangs love notes for her on the trees in the woods. Rosalind, equally in love with Orlando but still disguised as a man, encourages him to pursue her. Phoebe, a shepherdess, falls in love with Ganymede, and she in turn is loved by Silvius, a shepherd. Even Touchstone the Clown has a woman he's pursuing.

Eventually, due to a mixture of cunning plots and DeusExMachina, the tangled love triangles are sorted out and Oliver and Frederick mend their ways, returning power to their brothers. The play ends with ''four'' marriages, and everyone returns happily to the duchy-- except melancholy Jaques, who joins a monastery.

The plot is closely based on the novel ''Rosalynde; or, Euphues' Golden Legacy'' by Thomas Lodge, published 1590.

The play has been adapted on film by Sir Creator/LaurenceOlivier in 1936 (it was his first Shakespeare film adaptation) and another film was made by Creator/KennethBranagh, which reset the play in Meiji Japan.


* AdaptationExpansion: Of Thomas Lodge's novella ''Rosalynde'', which contained the plot and most of the main characters, albeit with different names. Touchstone, Jaques and Audrey were all created by Shakespeare himself, as was the semi-subplot involving them.
* AfraidOfBlood: Rosalind passes out seeing a handkerchief with the wounded Orlando's blood on it. Subverted in that she's not upset about the blood itself so much as the fact that it's her beloved Orlando's blood. This is {{lampshade|Hanging}}d by Celia, who can't really explain the situation to Oliver because he still thinks Rosalind's a boy.
-->'''Oliver''': Many will swoon when they do look on blood.\\
'''Celia''': There is more in it.
* AllGirlsWantBadBoys:
-->'''Phoebe''': Sweet youth, I pray you, chide a year together;\\
I had rather hear you chide than this man woo.
* AmbiguouslyGay: Le Beau is sometimes played like this: See HaveAGayOldTime below.
* {{Arcadia}}: The Forest of Arden, complete with the requisite collection of shepherds and shepherdesses.
* AsYouKnow: One of the more famous examples. "As I remember, Adam..."
* AttractiveBentGender: Rosalind
* AuthorAvatar: Some have suggested William, the character who appears only to give Touchstone a chance to make fun of him. He has the same name as the author and was likely played by him (as Shakespeare was an actor in his own company) as well. A bit of SelfDeprecation, painting himself as a foolish yokel.
* BadassBoast: Touchstone telling William "I will kill thee a hundred and fifty ways".
* {{Bifauxnen}}: Rosalind again. She gives [[Theatre/TwelfthNight Viola]] a run for her money.
* CainAndAbel: Oliver is initially consumed with murderous hatred for his younger brother Orlando.
* CanonForeigner: Jaques (who actually ''is'' a foreigner in the story), Touchstone and the characters in his subplot (Audrey, Oliver Mar-Text and William), and Amiens.
* CardCarryingVillain: Oliver de Boys, before his HeelFaceTurn, has a speech about his brother Orlando which boils down to "Orlando is truly a good guy, and I want him dead for no good reason." (The subtext may suggest [[GreenEyedMonster jealousy]] as a possible motive.)
-->'''Oliver''': I hope I shall see an end of him; for my soul, yet I know not why, hates nothing more than he. Yet he's gentle, never schooled and yet learned, full of noble device, of all sorts enchantingly beloved, and indeed so much in the heart of the world, and especially of my own people, who best know him, that I am altogether misprised.''
* ComicRolePlay: Orlando practice his declaration of love to Rosalind on Ganymede, who is (of course) Rosalind in disguise.
* CoupledCouples: Brothers Orlando and Oliver falling for cousins Rosalind and Celia.
* DeadpanSnarker:
** The melancholy Jacques gets a lot of lines befitting one of these, but the delivery (of course) depends on the actor.
** Touchstone.
** Rosalind has a few good one-liners:
--->'''Touchstone''': Nay, if I keep not my rank--\\
'''Rosalind''': Thou losest thy old smell.
* DeathByAdaptation: Any production that implies Adam's death (such as the 1996 Creator/RoyalShakespeareCompany production).
* DeusExMachina:
** Oliver repents his ways and reunites with Orlando because Orlando saves him from a conveniently placed lion.
** Fredrick suddenly has a change of heart, goes religious, and gives the duchy back to the Duke. All offstage. Due to a ''third'' brother of Oliver and Orlando who's only been mentioned once at the very beginning of the play, in a line that's often cut.[[note]]Some productions cut out the third brother entirely and give his lines to Le Beau, the main courtier instead.[[/note]]
** A literal example; at the end of the play Hymen, the Greek God of Marriage, arrives with Rosalind to sort out the four couples once and for all, and give his blessing to their marriages.
* DisproportionateRetribution: Touchstone's threatened punishment to William for ''daring'' to like Audrey:
-->'''Touchstone''': ...abandon the society of this female, or, clown, thou perishest; or, to thy better understanding, diest; or, to wit I kill thee, make thee away, translate thy life into death, thy liberty into bondage: I will deal in poison with thee, or in bastinado, or in steel; I will bandy with thee in faction; I will o'errun thee with policy; I will kill thee a hundred and fifty ways: therefore tremble and depart!
* DramaticIrony: Rosalind's RecursiveCrossdressing
* EasyEvangelism: See DeusExMachina.
* TheEeyore: Jaques spends essentially every moment on stage being either doleful or [[DeadpanSnarker snarky]].
* EvilTwin: When, as often occurs, the good and evil Dukes are played by the same actor.
* FourTermsFallacy: Used by Touchstone to prove that Corin is going to hell because he never went to court.
-->'''Touchstone''': Why, if thou never wast at court, thou never sawest good manners; if thou never sawest good manners, then thy manners must be wicked; and wickedness is sin, and sin is damnation. Thou art in a parlous state, shepherd.
* GetTheeToANunnery: The meaning of Touchstone's speech punning on "hour" takes on a quite different meaning once you realize that in Elizabethan English, ''hour'' and ''whore'' were homophones.
-->'Thus we may see,' quoth he, 'how the world wags:\\
'Tis but an hour ago since it was nine,\\
And after one hour more 'twill be eleven;\\
And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,[[note]]''ripe'' and ''rape'' was also pronounced the same back then[[/note]]\\
And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;\\
And thereby hangs a tale.'
* GhibliHills
* GrumpyBear: Jaques is a pre-Nietzsche NietzscheWannabe stuck in a pastoral comedy.
* HaveAGayOldTime
-->'''Le Beau''' ''(to Orlando)'': Sir! Fare thee well. Hereafter, in a better world than this, I shall desire much love and knowledge of you.
* HeelFaceTurn: Oliver and Frederick
* HeelFaithTurn: Frederick (off-stage) decides to give up the duchy after talking to an old cleric and finding religion.
* HeterosexualLifePartners: Rosalind and Celia.
* HijackedByJesus: The story is set in a time and place where Greek or Roman Religion is dominant, but the religion seems very like Christianity in 16th Century England
* TheJester: Touchstone. {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d by Jaques when he reveals that he plans on becoming "a fool" as well--he'd ''love'' to be able to criticize everyone and everything without retribution!
* KnowNothingKnowItAll: Referenced by Touchstone.
-->The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
* LoveAtFirstSight: A major theme.
** Played straight with Oliver and Celia.
** Toyed with when it comes to Rosalind and Orlando; they're both fairly smitten the first time they meet, but she feels the need to test the truth of his feelings with an elaborate deception.
** Subverted with Phoebe. She originally spurns Silvius and falls for "Ganymede" right away, but when it becomes obvious that isn't going to work, it's Silvius' unswerving devotion that wins the day.
* LoveLetterLunacy: Hanging love notes on every tree in the forest.
* ManlyTears: Apparently, Orlando and Oliver really turned on the waterworks after the latter's conversion:
-->When from the first to last betwixt us two\\
Tears our recountments had most kindly bathed...
* MeaningfulName: Celia deliberately uses one of these as her alias ("Aliena" means "the estranged one"), as she wants her name to be "something that hath a reference to [her] state". Rosalind's 'Ganymede' comes from the mythological cupbearer/lover of Zeus, and given that Orlando is SweetOnPollyOliver...
* MenDontCry: Referenced several times by Celia and Rosalind. Rosalind's disguised as a man, so crying wouldn't "become" her.
* MisplacedVegetation: Rosalind finds one of Orlando's poems under a palm tree. Whether you think that Arden is meant to be the British Forest of Arden or the Ardennes, neither have naturally occurring palm trees.
* MisplacedWildlife: Or lions.
* MistakenIdentity
* MortonsFork: Touchstone's attempt to argue for unchastity. (In a beautiful woman, chastity would be "honey as a sauce to sugar", while in an unattractive one, it is "good meat in an unclean dish".)
* NatureLover: Or so they profess in exile.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: Touchstone, in the finest tradition of Shakespeare's clowns.
* OldRetainer: Adam (to Orlando).
* OneHeadTaller: Rosalind is said by Orlando to stand "just as high as my heart" -- though it could be a poetic way of confessing his love for her and not a description of her height.
* OneSteveLimit: Avoided-- Oliver the brother and Oliver the priest; melancholy Jaques and Orlando's brother Jaques.
* OnlySaneMan: Oliver Mar-text, the country priest, comes off this way, although he only has one appearance and very few lines. He provides the punchline at the end of the scene when he's all set to marry Touchstone and Audrey, but they decide to ditch him (on Jaques' advice) and exit the scene singing and dancing:
-->'Tis no matter. Ne'er a fantastical knave of them all shall flout me out of my calling.
* PainfulRhyme: InUniverse. Some of Orlando's poems have to use a long ''i'' in Rosalind to make the rhymes work, which Touchstone and Celia scoff at.
* PersonAsVerb: "She Phoebes me."
* PungeonMaster: Touchstone.
* RagsToRoyalty
* RecursiveCrossdressing
* SelfDeprecation: In the epilogue, Rosalind says that it is "neither a good epilogue nor cannot insinuate with you in the behalf of a good play".
* SparedByTheAdaptation: In ''Rosalynde'', the usurping Duke is killed in an epic forest battle at the end, much to the sorrow of his daughter. In keeping with the happy ending of a comedy, he merely converts offstage in ''As You Like It.''
* StalkerWithACrush: Half the cast can be played this way to one extent or another.
* StylisticSuck: Orlando's poetry, to a certain extent. It's not terrible, but it's definitely amateurish (at least compared to what Shakespeare was capable of writing), and, as Touchstone points out, it's ''way'' too easy to parody.
* SweetOnPollyOliver: Orlando and Phoebe have no idea that "Ganymede" is a girl.
* TriangRelations: Orlando and Rosalind are in love, but Rosalind is [[WholesomeCrossdresser pretending to be a boy]], and Phoebe [[SweetOnPollyOliver has a crush on said boy]], and Silvius is in love with ''her''... Resolved when Rosalind reveals herself to be a girl.
* WholesomeCrossdresser: Rosalind.
* YourMom: The subtext of Charles' taunt to Orlando before the wrestling match.
--> Where is this young gallant who so desires to lie with his Mother Earth?