As You Like It

As You Like It is one of Shakespeare's "marriage" comedies in which love's complications end in recognition of the true identity of the lovers and celebration in marriage. This teacher's guide includes discussion questions, activities, and guidelines for teaching the play.
Teaching Strategies:
Grades:
9 |
10 |
11 |
Subjects:
Updated: June 9, 2019
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READING ACTIVITIES
Shakespeare's As You Like It
These activities and reader response prompts will elicit students' initial responses to reading the play and lead to more in-depth analysis of the themes and ideas explored in the prereading activities.

A. Getting Down Initial Reactions
1. As students read each scene, have them make a list of what they learn about each main character and also what they would like to learn. Write these lists on large chart paper which can be displayed in the room. Use these lists daily to review what has happened, to add information, and to make connections to what they learn about the characters.
2. Using the prereading activity about the nature of love, create a chart to describe the behaviors of love displayed by each lover in the play. As a gathering strategy each day, ask the class to add to the list, based on their reading of the latest scenes. What generalizations can they begin to make about Shakespeare's idea of true love?

B. Reader Response

Students need to have the opportunity to express their initial reactions to the reading, based on their personal experiences and understanding of what they have read. Reader response writing prompts encourage this type of personal, subjective response to the reading. Use open-ended questions, such as, describe your response to the scene or what do you know about Rosalind? Ask students to choose the most important line in the section and explain why they consider it important. Or choose a quotation and explain what it means to them. Tell students to write freely for three to five minutes about ideas the quotation brings to mind. Have students share their responses in pairs and then invite reactions as a way to start a whole-class discussion.
The following quotations may lead to rich responses:

Act I
1. "The courtesy of nations allows you my better in that you are
first born, but the same tradition takes not away my blood were
there twenty brothers betwixt us. I have as much of my father
in me as you...." (I, i, 44-48)
2. "They say many young gentlemen flock to him [Duke Senior]
every day, and fleet the time carelessly as they did in the
golden world." (I, i, 113-115)
3. "Let us sit and mock the good housewife Fortune from her
wheel, that her gifts may henceforth be bestowed equally." (I, ii, 30-32)
4. "What passion hangs these weights upon my tongue?
I cannot speak to her [Rosalind], yet she urged conference.
(I, ii, 247-248)

Act II
1. "Are not these woods
More free from peril than the envious court?" (II, i, 4-5)
2. "Thou art not for the fashion of these times,
When none will sweat but for promotion,
And having that, do choke their service up
Even with the having...." (II, iii, 59-62)
3. "We that are true lovers run into strange capers; but as all is mortal in nature, so is all nature in love mortal in folly." (II, iv, 51-54)
4. "When I did hear
The motley fool thus moral on the time,
My lungs began to crow like chanticleer
That fools should be so deep contemplative...." (II, vii, 28-31)
5. "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." (II, vii, 139-143)

Act III
1. "O Rosalind! These trees shall be my books,
And in their barks my thoughts I'll character,
That every eye which in this forest looks
Shall see thy virtue witnessed everywhere." (III, ii, 5-8)
2. "Time travels in divers paces with divers persons. I'll tell you
who Time ambles withal, who Time trots withal, who Time
gallops withal, and who he stands still withal." (III, ii, 304-307)
3. "Love is merely a madness, and...deserves as well a dark
house and a whip as madmen do; and the reason why they are
not so punished and cured is that the lunacy is so ordinary
that the whippers are in love too." (III, ii, 391-395)
4. "Thou tell'st me there is murder in mine eye:
'Tis pretty, sure, and very probable
That eyes, that are the frail'st and softest things,
Who shut their coward gates on atomies,
Should be called tyrants, butchers, murderers." (III, v, 10-14)

Act IV
1. "The poor world is almost six thousand years old, and in all this
time there was not any man died in his own person...in a
love cause." (IV, i, 89-92)
2. "Men are April when they woo, December when they wed. Maids
are May when they are maids, but the sky changes when they
are wives." (IV, i, 140-142)
3. "Twice did he turn his back and purposed so;
But kindness, nobler ever than revenge,
And nature, stronger than his just occasion,
Made him give battle to the lioness,
Who quickly fell before him." (IV, iii, 128-132)

Act V
1. "...for your brother and my sister no sooner met but they
looked; no sooner looked but they loved; no sooner loved but
they sighed; no sooner sighed but they asked one another the
reason; no sooner knew the reason but they sought the remedy:
and in these degrees have they made a pair of stairs to
marriage...." (V, ii, 31-37)
2. What is love? "It is to be all made of fantasy,
All made of passion, and all made of wishes,
All adoration, duty, and observance,
All humbleness, all patience, and impatience,
All purity, all trial, all observance" (V, ii, 93-97)
3. "Here's eight that must take hands
To join in Hymen's bands,
If truth holds true contents." (V, iv, 128-130)

C. Strategies to Build Students' Dramatic Presentation Skills
Drama is useful in teaching oral development because it encourages the combination of spoken language and kinesthetic body movement which affects small group interactions and public speaking. Drama also promotes imagination and the ability to make connections between the ideas in the play and the students' everyday experiences. However, be prepared for disappointing results if you simply ask students to "act out" a scene without any preparation. Students are often uncomfortable or too embarrassed to vary their voices, make gestures, or move about the classroom. Dramatic presentation skills must be taught, just like other reading, writing, and listening skills. Students need to be eased into dramatic presentations. It is better to start with small scenes and more limited actions. Students will gain confidence and a comfort level which will enable them to risk more detailed dramatic presentations. Following are a list of teaching strategies which can be used to build speaking and acting skills:

1. Reading for meaning
One student reads several lines of a character; another says what the character "really" means.
Ex. Rosalind's speech, Act V, scene ii, 62-68

"If you do love Rosalind so near the heart as your gesture cries it
out, when your brother marries Aliena shall you marry her. I
know into what straits of fortune she is driven; and it is not
impossible to me, if it appear not inconvenient to you, to set her
before your eyes tomorrow, human as she is, and without
any danger."

Rosalind is really speaking for herself. She is in a difficult situation, pretending to be a man and the mock lover of Orlando. It's time for the truth to come out. Since Orlando shows that he loves her, she will reveal herself at the wedding tomorrow.

2. Reading for dramatic action
One student reads the lines of a particular scene or part of a scene while members of the group pose as specific characters and perform the actions that give more meaning to the words. Students need time to plan this activity by reading the lines together and deciding on the best actions to convey the meanings of the lines. Try any of the scenes involving Rosalind and Orlando.

3. Slide show
Students choose four key moments in a scene or part of a scene. They plan a fixed tableau to present each moment and then present the scenes in succession to the class. Each time they switch positions, they call out "switch." Students close their eyes until the actors call out "open." This happens four times in succession creating a visual "slide show."

4. Interview
One student interviews another student who poses as a character in the play. The actor must assume the role fully, so that he/she responds as the character would, given the character's actions and speeches in the play.

5. Tug of War as Characters
Two characters argue about a decision or conflict in the play. Each character is represented by a student who reads the character's lines with appropriate emotion and emphasis while pulling an imaginative rope toward him/her in pantomime. This encourages kinesthetic exercise and movement. The opposite student in the argument then does the same, pulling the rope toward him/her.

6. Monologue
In character, a student describes a particular locale in the play. The character should talk about the best/worst thing about living in this particular place. The character talks about his/her daily life and describes relationships to other characters.

D. Guidelines for Teaching Drama
1. Read speeches out loud to model to students how pauses, actions, and gestures add meaning to the words.
2. Encourage students to see action with the dialogue. Ask students to go through a scene, describing what they think the characters are doing while they speak. Consider how actions add meaning to the words and how words add meaning to the actions.
3. Explain and model inflections and subtle voice changes to show how they affect how the lines of the play are interpreted by the audience.
4. Encourage students to read plays aloud by giving them time to read short sections of scenes in pairs and small groups. This shows how important it is to hear the speech of characters in order to begin to understand their behavior and thinking.

E. Discussion Questions

Students' personal responses to the play can be deepened through small group and whole-class discussion. The goal of discussion is not to summarize the plot, but to try to understand connections between what characters say and do and their motivation and how all these actions taken together suggest Shakespeare's overall ideas about love and human relationships. You may want to use students' reader response reactions as the starting point of discussion or you may use some of the following questions to explore character, action, and theme more fully.

Act I
1. Is Orlando justified in his quarrel with his older brother Oliver? Does Oliver owe him access to an education fitting for a gentleman?
2. Why does Oliver plot to harm Orlando?
3. Why is Rosalind sad? Why hasn't she left the court since her father was banished by the present Duke? Should she have left the court?
4. Why does Orlando want to challenge Charles the wrestler?
5. How is Orlando affected when Rosalind gives him a chain to wear as a reward and token of esteem?
6. Why does Duke Frederick banish Rosalind from the court? Why does he think Celia should be glad that she is leaving?
7. What does Celia's response to her father's treatment of Rosalind show about her character? Is her love stronger than Rosalind's as she claims?

Act II

1. How is life different in the Forest of Arden from the Court? Do you think the life in the woods is better and why? Or would you prefer to live in the court and why?
2. How do the woods change with the arrival of the Duke and his lords? How do they disturb nature? Is this right or wrong?
3. How does Adam characterize the plan of Oliver to harm his brother? How is Adam's behavior towards Orlando used as a contrast to Oliver's? What is Shakespeare telling us about the right order of relationships?
4. What are the characteristics of romantic love? How does Silvius identify himself as a romantic lover? When is love foolish? When is love true?
5. Is Rosalind truly in love with Orlando? What is her love based on? Is Orlando truly in love with Rosalind?
6. What are the seven ages of man described by Jacques in his speech? Is this description still relevant or how else should the stages of life be described? What stages has the average high school student gone through?
7. Why does the Duke offer food to Orlando? If he is not impressed with Orlando's show of force, what does move him to be generous to Orlando?

Act III
1. How does Amiens' song at the end of the last act apply to the motivation of Duke Frederick and Oliver in the first scene of Act III?
2. What are the truisms that the shepherd Corin tells Touchstone? What are some truisms that a modern day student might speak?
3. If you were the director of this play, how would you direct the scene between Corin and Touchstone? Would Corin be an innocent who is all seriousness in his "wisdom," or would you have him act the role of a "smart alec" who is speaking in mockery trying to outdo Touchstone? Explain your reasons for your choice.
4. Contrast the rhyme that Touchstone wrote about Rosalind with the one written by Orlando and read by Celia. How do the two characterizations differ?
5. How is Orlando's view of the world different from that of Jaques (Monsieur Melancholy)?
6. Why does Rosalind decide to "play the knave" to Orlando?
7. When Rosalind tells Orlando that he does not look like a lover, he says that he wants to make her believe it is true. Is this why he agrees to pretend she is Rosalind and woo her even though he thinks she is a man? Are there any other possible reasons?
8. Rosalind in the guise of a man reveals some of the ways that women differ from men. List these differences and judge whether a modern audience would consider them as true.
9. In Touchstone's speech to Audrey, he refers to the inevitability of horns for a married man, suggesting that all wives are unfaithful. Even so, he says that it is better to be married than not. Why might he think so?
10. How would you describe Touchstone's attraction to Audrey? Does he express romantic love or some other kind of feeling?
11. Contrast Phebe's feeling for Silvius compared to her feeling for Rosalind disguised as Ganymede.

Act IV
1. Celia accuses Rosalind of misusing "our sex in your love-prate." How has Rosalind defamed women in her speeches to Orlando?
2. How does Rosalind respond to the sight of Orlando's blood? What does this say about her nature?

Act V

1. What role does Rosalind play in her disguise as Ganymede in the uniting of Phebe and Silvius and herself with Orlando?
2. In the resolution of the play, the lovers are united in marriage, and they are restored to their rightful places in society. What does this resolution imply about nature and fortune?

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