A musician plays the gittern (guitar). Inigo Jones. University of Victoria Library.

The image of Court life offered by As You Like It is far from flattering. Duke Frederick is tyrannical, and amuses himself with brutal wrestling matches, while Duke Senior comments on the lack of court flatterers in the forest*.

Here feel we not the penalty of Adam;
The seasons' difference, as the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter's wind,
Which, when it bites and blows upon my body
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say,
This is no flattery; these are counsellors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.
(2.1.5-11)

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Touchstone offers several comments on life at Court, in each case parodying its excesses. He proves as adept at rhyming with "Rosalind" as Orlando's poems of courtly love (3.2.100-11); he explains to Corin that a mere country fellow is damned because he has never been to Court*, and he shows how a courtier can insult others without actually having to fight the threatened duel.

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 (3.2.39-42).

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Footnotes

  1. Far from the madding crowd

    Here feel we not the penalty of Adam;
    The seasons' difference, as the icy fang
    And churlish chiding of the winter's wind,
    Which, when it bites and blows upon my body
    Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say,
    This is no flattery; these are counsellors
    That feelingly persuade me what I am.
    (2.1.5-11)

  2. Salvation through good manners

    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 (3.2.39-42).