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The Inclusive VS The Exclusive Identity in William Shakespeare’s As You like It

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The play, As You Like It, by William Shakespeare is all about dropping out of the everyday madness of modern capitalism. Shakespeare wrote many plays in his lifetime, and As You Like It is one of his most famous comedies that represents love at first sight, disguise, and manipulative love in an amusing manner. Love as a state of being is universal throughout As You Like It. In Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It, Duke Senior is overthrown by his brother, Duke Frederick, and has vanished to the Forest of Arden, where he lives like an outlaw and has a band of followers. Duke Frederick allowed Rosalind, Duke Senior’s daughter to stay as she has an inseparable friendship with Frederick’s daughter Celia. Orlando and Oliver have a bitter rival as Oliver tries to keep all the inheritance to himself after the death of Sir Rowland de Bois. Oliver pins Orlando to a match with Charles, a wrestler from Duke Frederick’s court. Orlando wins the match and has Rosalind swooning over him, she is then banished by Duke Frederick and Celia being her friend decides to leave with her. Soon after that, the characters end up in complex and chaotic relationships. In the end, Rosalind manipulates those around her in order for each character to end up with the person they are meant to be with.These relationships come together through the growth of character identity. Shakespeare’s comedy emphasizes that one’s being is inclusive of otherness. In this article, Bracher talks about the inclusive personalities conquer over the exclusive traits of other characters; his ideas can be seen on how he labels his characters, how he discusses Shakespeare’s satire is inclusive, and how he discusses that Touchstone’s character coincides with the play.

In Shakespeare’s play As You Like It, Duke Senior is banished by his brother, Duke Frederick to the Forest of Arden. Duke Senior leaves his daughter behind as Frederick allows her to stay since his daughter Celia is very close with Rosalind. Orlando is the youngest son of Sir Roland de Bois, and is treated poorly by his older brother, Oliver. Oliver then volunteers Orlando to participate in a wrestling match with the Duke’s wrestler, Charles, in an attempt to kill his brother. Orlando wins the match and meets the two women, Rosalind falling in love with Orlando. Rosalind gives Orlando a chain to wear and he falls in love with her, and when he escapes, he carves her name into the trees of the forest. The two women then leave to the Forest of Arden and take on the identities of Ganymede and Aliena. Soon after that, Rosalind, disguised as Ganymede, finds herself caught up in a love triangle between Phoebe and Orlando. Meanwhile, Duke Frederick sends Oliver to the forest to find Celia and threatens to take away Oliver’s land if he does not bring Celia back.. In the process of searching for his brother, Oliver is attacked by a lion and Orlando saves him. Oliver finds Rosalind and Celia and explains the events of the lion attack to them and falls in love with Celia. In the end, each of the characters fall in love with the right person they are meant to be with.

Bracher’s first remark about how inclusive identity triumphs over the exclusive identity is in his labeling of characters. Bracher clearly states his point with the relationship between the two main male characters, Oliver and Orlando. In his article, Bracher mentions how Shakespeare makes “Oliver’s conspiracy against Orlando less intelligible by giving Orlando only, (228) ‘a poor thousand crowns’ (Bracher 228). Bracher explains how Oliver has no interest in what he is giving to his brother and shows no tangible animosity towards Orlando. “I shall see an end of him; for my soul, yet I know not why.” (Shakespeare, 1, 1, lines 161-162), Oliver is stating that Orlando is very noble and intelligent, yet he has an internalized hatred for him by these qualities that he cannot comprehend why he feels such animosity over his brother. Bracher explains how the monologue shows Oliver’s outlook on how a person can better themselves without belittling the importance of another being making Oliver’s view of identity exclusive. As for Orlando, his view on identity was inclusive because he was not worried about people shaming him and losing his honor during the wrestling match. He does not carry a large ego around like Oliver does and acts without self-interest, therefore he has an inclusive identity. Bracher states that Orlando triumphs over his victory and that he “overthrows the victory of the exclusive, heroic ego.” (Bracher 232)

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The second point that Bracher states about his thesis is that Shakespeare’s satire is inclusive. Bracher observes Touchstone and concludes that Shakespeare’s satirical comedy is inclusive. Touchstone is part of Duke Frederick’s court and is the fool who ends up helping Rosalind and Celia for their runaway adventure. Touchstone is the type of character that is needed in the play in order to make it inclusive. These changes the characters embrace are facilitated solely due to the forest of Arden, which they escape to. Identity becomes erratic and versatile, and characters can choose for themselves the identity they wish to adopt, as it is only here that they are allowed the freedom to do so. Bracher mentions how Touchstone’s, “wittiness is typical of a satiric comedy, and most importantly, “he has a natural tendency…to react to the person he is speaking with” (Bracher 233). Touchstone is able to show inclusive behavior by bringing everyone’s self-interest and using antics to avoid conflict with the exclusive viewpoints by creating multiplicity. “Why, if thou never wast at court thou never saw’st good manners; if thou never saw’st good manners, then thy manners must

be wicked; and wickedness is sin, and sin is damnation. Thou art” (Shakespeare, 3, 2, lines 40-43). In his statement, Touchstone states that if you did not come from the court and have good manners, then you were sinned and punished for your wrong doings. Bracher shows how Shakespeare is able to create this uniqueness through satire. Bracher shows that the satire of Touchstone creates inclusive emblem of fundamental incohesion that outdoes exclusive identity.

Therefore, Bracher supports his thesis by stating the inclusive identity triumphs over the exclusive identity through Touchstone’s character. In the beginning of the play, Touchstone is an exclusive character as he serves for Duke Frederick. Touchstone achieves to hurt William’s self-esteem by taking away Audrey, “for all your writers do consent that ipse is he. Now, you are not ipse, for I am he” (Bracher 238). Bracher notes that inclusive identity triumphs over exclusive identity and so that is emulated in the plays structure. In the final scene, Touchstone represents an inclusive identity, as he shares with others how to be inclusive. To Bracher, this is a way of inclusiveness because it enables people to be accepting of opinions of others and not gaining anything by putting others down.

William Shakespeare’s play As You Like It is an example of comedy that is able to show the readers and audience how manipulation of love, disguise, and love at first sight can control the actions of all involved. As You Like It has many similarities to Romeo and Juliet as it too was a play of love at first sight. In Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Duke Frederick banishes his brother Duke Senior to the forest of Arden, and allows Rosalind to stay. Rosalind and Celia, Frederick’s daughter, leave the court for the forest and disguise themselves as Ganymede and Aliena. With the whirlwind of complex relationships and unrecognized love, Rosalind and Celia find themselves in the middle. The play ends with everyone finding the person that is right for them. As Mark Bracher outlines in “Contrary Notions of Identity in As You Like It,” these complex relationships are dominated by the powerful inclusive identity over the exclusive identity. In his article, Bracher explains how inclusive personalities triumph over the exclusive ones through the study of character labels, Shakespeare’s satire, and Touchstone’s character as an analysis of the play’s structure.

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The Inclusive VS The Exclusive Identity in William Shakespeare’s As You like It. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from
“The Inclusive VS The Exclusive Identity in William Shakespeare’s As You like It.” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022,
The Inclusive VS The Exclusive Identity in William Shakespeare’s As You like It. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 8 Feb. 2023].
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