Referat - The use of the imagery of archetypes in Shakespeare’s As you like it
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The use of the imagery of archetypes in
Shakespeare’s As you like it
Verena Kischer : email@example.com
The use of the imagery of archetypes in Shakespeare’s As you like it 1
Table of Contents
1. Introduction ........................................................................ 1
2. The archetype in Jaques’ speech of
‘Seven stages in a man’s life’ ............................................ 3
2.1. Orlando - the archetypal character ........................... 4
2.2. Oliver - an archetypal character? ............................. 7
3. Jaques’ speech - a charicature ......................................... 8
4. Conclusion ......................................................................... 9
5. Bibliography ...................................................................... 11
6. Index .................................................................................. 13
Characters have always been and still are the focal point of every play. This is not
surprising, since it is they who make up the whole story. Judging by the way they talk and
The use of the imagery of archetypes in Shakespeare’s As you like it 2
gesticulate, they do not only determine their own personality but they also develop the
plot, the social context, the atmosphere and the theme of the whole play.
Language is the most important factor, when it comes to identifying and
analysing a certain character type. The picture that we, as the reader, get
of a character is, on the one hand, a reflection of what he says, and, on
the other hand, of how he says it. This will become clear if we look at the
opening scene of As you like it. Here, Orlando complains in an inexorable
stream of words about his upbringing - if he has had one at all -, in which
he was treated like the black sheep of the family.
He keeps me rustically at home, or, to speak more
properly, stays me here at home unkept...His horses
are better bred, for, besides that they are fair with
their feeding, they are taught their manage. (1.1. 6-11)
This extract from Orlando’s first speech is ‘a shout of protest.’ (Doebler,
111) In twenty-three lines Orlando gives vent to his wrath, a wrath he has
choked back for much too long. He tries to portray himself as an
uneducated and foolish person, a person who has been kept like a menial.
Yet, it is made quite clear to the reader that this is not the case at all.
Orlando draws a parallel with his brother’s cattle, thus, becoming aware of
the fact that even the horses and oxen are superior to him, for ‘they are
taught their manage.’ (1.1. 11) Orlando chooses here the word ‘manage’,
a technical term that derives from the French word ‘manege’
(Shakespeare, Commentary) referring to the action and paces to which a
horse is trained in the riding-school, particularly for military purposes.
Orlando expresses himself in such a sophisticated manner, which a
person who had not obtained a good education would have never been
able to do. But it is not only the choice of words used that suggest that
Orlando is actually far from being reduced to the state of an animal, but it
is the length of this passage as well. Orlando does not get rid of his anger
by simply throwing together a few sentences - I am so stupid. I have never
had a good education, for which I loathe my brother -, but he does that in a
much more round-about and sophisticated manner. This can be easily
exemplified by looking at the individual sentences of this first speech. No
matter which one we pick out, every single one is at least four lines long.
Besides this nothing that he so plentifully gives me, the
something that nature gave me his countenance seems
The use of the imagery of archetypes in Shakespeare’s As you like it 3
to take from me: he lets me feed with his hinds, bars me
the place of a brother, and, as much as in him lies, mines
my gentility with my education. (1.1. 15-19)
All that Orlando states within these five lines is the fact that his brother
denies him everything he is actually entitled to. But he did not need 49
words to say so.
By looking at the language Orlando uses, the reader can surmise that,
despite his lack of formal education, he is very well aware of formal
manners and is by no means as uneducated as he takes himself for. This
assumption that the reader makes right at the very beginning of the play is
also confirmed by his brother Oliver. In a soliloquy Oliver broaches the
subject that he ‘hates nothing more than he [Orlando]. Yet he is gentle,
never schooled and yet learned, full of noble device, of all sorts
enchantingly beloved.’ (1.1. 154-59) Since a soliloquy is a monologue that
conveys a character’s thoughts or other information to the audience whilst
no other characters are on stage, we can assume his speech to be
credible. Thus, the reader does not place his trust in Orlando by taking
everything he says for granted. It is the language Orlando uses that
reveals his personality.
This is one way of analysing a character’s personality. Another way,
one that complements the first one, occurs by means of expectations. This
simply means that we already have a pre-conceived notion or idea in our
minds of how a certain character should behave, act, etc. This is based on
our personal experience as well as on the force of habit. We have learned
that, in a play, a whole range of characters exist which are all organised in
a particular pattern. There is the protagonist of the play, a young, beautiful,
innocent person. Then a mean, wicked scoundrel known as antagonist, a
brave soldier, a foolish lover, a lonesome father, an uneducated fool, etc.
We all have an idea of how these types of characters ought to behave. In
other words, we place them in different categories, where each category
represents one prototype, one archetype.
2. The archetype in Jaques’ speech of ‘Seven stages in a
The use of the imagery of archetypes in Shakespeare’s As you like it 4
An archetype is ‘the original pattern or model from which all things of
the same kind are copied or on which they are based.’ (Flexner, s.v.
archetype) Now, archetypes do not only occur in the fictitious world of a
play in the form of certain character patterns, but they are also present in
real life. Jaques, the second Son of Sir Rowland the Boys, realises that
every human being has to pass through various stages in life, each of
which has an archetypal function, i.e. in each phase of life we are
expected to behave in a certain, almost inescapable manner. This, Jaques
brings home to the reader in a vivid description of ‘the seven stages in a
And 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. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
Then, the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school; and then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow; then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth; and then, the justice,
In fair round belly, with good capon lined,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances,
And so he plays his part; the sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound; last Scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness, and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
Jaques sees life as a stage-play with seven acts, each act representing
an important phase in life. Stage one, he describes as infancy, followed by
stage two defined as childhood. In stage three we find the sighing lover
and in stage four the swearing soldier. Stage five deals with man following
a profession, stage six with man at an advanced age and, finally, stage
seven, with man in the last stages of life. This system is clearly laid out
and represents a kind of order in our lives. Everyone of us has to undergo
The use of the imagery of archetypes in Shakespeare’s As you like it 5
these changes, one after the other, and no matter which one we think of, a
certain idea associated with this particular stage enters our head.
In stage four, for instance, comes ‘the lover, Sighing like a furnace, with
a woeful ballad Made to his mistress’ eyebrow;’ (2.7. 148-150). This is
exactly the stage, Orlando and Oliver are in, with the only difference being
that in the case of Orlando it becomes obvious right at the very beginning
of the play.
2.1. Orlando, the archetypal character
Orlando is a good-looking¹ young man, who is head over heels in love.
Due to a fatal intrigue of his brother Oliver, he has to leave the court to
seek his fortune elsewhere, and he does so with fearless bravery and
boldness. Upon arriving in the Forest of Arden, Orlando hangs poems in
praise of his beloved Rosalynd on trees. After a short game of disguise,
which Rosalynd initiates in order to put Orlando’s love to a test, they get
Throughout the play Orlando behaves in every possible way how we,
having this archetypal concept of stage four of Jaque’s speech in mind,
would expect him to. But let us look at the way in which he fulfils this
expected archetypal pattern in more detail.
As I remember, Adam, it was upon this fashion bequeathed
me by will, but poor a thousand crowns, and, as thou sayest,
charged my brother on his blessing to breed me well;
This first speech by Orlando, who is the romantic hero of the play, is the
opening scene of Shakespeare’s As you like it. Upon reading the first four
¹ Rosalynd indicates that Orlando has not only defeated his component Charles, but that
his charm and good-looks have ’overthrown’ (1.2. 243) her as well.
lines, the reader finds himself situated right in the middle of the story of the
two brothers. Shakespeare did not start off with a lengthy description of
how Sir Rowland de Boys’ death came about, but plunged right into the
action. In other words, he started in medias res. So, all we get to know is
that Orlando was supposed to obtain a thousand crowns from his father
which his elder brother keeps for himself. It is merely due to Orlando
reaching manhood that he realises that he has to do something about his
The use of the imagery of archetypes in Shakespeare’s As you like it 6
miserable situation, for he has been treated unfairly and unjustly by his
brother Oliver. Whereas Jaques, the third son of Sir Rowland the Boys,
has had the pleasure of obtaining a good education, Orlando has not. The
latter was kept ‘rustically at home’ in a manner ‘that differs not from the
stalling of an ox.’ (1.1. 6-10) He was exploited
by the ‘older generation’ in the person of an eldest
brother. Ever since the death of their father Oliver
has treated Orlando shamelessly, denying him a
relevant education by setting him to mindless tasks.
Orlando recalls that even the horses and the oxen led a better life and
that all he basically gets from his brother, is the right to grow.
But Orlando is not at all the uneducated and foolish backwoodsman he
sees in himself. He is the more noble one and, despite less power, the
stronger one, according to Ornstein, the one with ‘chivalric manliness.’
(Ornstein, 148) This reveals itself in two ways: physical strength as well as
Orlando’s physical strength becomes visible to the reader in many
instances. The first two and most obvious ones are when Orlando fights
with Oliver, on the one hand, and with Duke Frederick’s wrestler Charles,
on the other hand. He defeats both of them. In the quarrel with Oliver,
Orlando ‘seizes him by the throat.’ (1.1. 50) When Oliver utters ‘Let me go,
I say’ (1.1. 61), we know that Oliver has won. As far as the wrestling with
Charles is concerned, Orlando’s strength becomes even more visible to
the reader. When Rosalynd encourages Orlando with the words ‘Now
Hercules be thy speed, young man!’ (1.2. 197), she invokes the typical
archetype of strength, namely Hercules. Since the reader sympathises
with Orlando, he is very likely to equip him with ‘Hercules-like’ features and
as we find out a few lines later, the strength of Hercules has been really
applied to Orlando. When Duke Frederick shouts ‘Bear him away’ (1.1.
208), we know that Charles is defeated.
In the Forest of Arden Orlando also displays his bra...
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