The forest of Arden in AS YOU LIKE IT

754 Words4 Pages
Pastoral portrays a way of life associated with the contemplative ideal, with retirement, reflectiveness and simplicity; and a popular theme in Renaissance literature sees the pastoral world as a haven for persecuted virtue. The author, aware of the tensions and contrasts between court and country, between active and contemplative lives, presents the pastoral world as an alternative to it. AYL best illustrates that the natural simplicity of the pastoral world is not an end in itself, but a standard against which the court is to be evaluated. Shakespeare's pastoral worlds include Navarre's park in LOVE'S LABOUR LOST, the wood near Athens ( A Mid Summers Nights Dream ),Prospero's enchanted isle ( The Tempest ) , and the forest of Arden ( AYL). Unlike Prospero's island, Arden is not a magical world. It is rather a glorious camp sight where the dwellers " fleet the time carelessly", like the gay green wood of Robin Hood. It recalls Ovid's account of the golden age at the beginning of his Metamorphosis. The forest is set against " The envious court" ruled by a tyrant, and there is no worse hardship in it than winter and rough weather. It is interesting to note that in AYL the sylvan mode of existence is subtly interiorized , so that external landscapes often become" landscapes of the mind". A retreat into Arden is thus a retreat into the soul, with no company except the self. In this sense , the forest becomes a mirror of the mind, showing each his own image. It therefore appears alternately as the idyllic " Golden World" and also as a "desert inaccessible", mirroring the disposition of the beholder. The pastoral world is a place for the nourishment and growth of human virtue, a rejection of the aspiring mind and the shepherds demonstrrate true content in renunciation. Although some shepherds , Tamburlaine for one, does not belong to a pastoral world, the dominant
Open Document