Shakespeare Society: As You Like It

West End Library

Shakespeare Society: As You Like It

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity posits that time is relative. A Kantian would insist that time is a form of intuition. However, a Fool -- indeed, the Fool in As You Like It -- aptly describes time as an unforgiving, continuous series of hours:

“It is ten o’clock.
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,
And then from hour to hour we rot and rot,
And thereby hangs a tale.” (2.7.23-29)

Whatever your definition, in As You Like It time certainly does not seem to exist, at least in a way that an hourglass or Omega wristwatch can convey. Much of the play’s action occurs in the Forest of Arden, a setting rich in the iambic pentameters of various characters but notably devoid of clocks.  And indeed, a besotted Orlando hangs poems on trees in an attempt to win the hand of his crush Rosalind. Why does he do this? 

On November 16, 2021, 12 participants met virtually via WebEx to discuss this question and several others in an attempt to understand just what the Bard was really getting at with this play. Ultimately perhaps time, love, poetry, identity, and friendship are simply as the title suggests -- as you like it.

Learn more about the Shakespeare Society: Comedies here.

--My Nguyen