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As You Like It - William Shakespeare (1623)

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  1. The binary oppositions seem first and foremost to be questioned at a sexual, or more precisely at a gender level
  2. These clearcut delimitations concerning sex and gender, as well as their subversion, also need to be viewed as limited when dealing with the social and philosophical levels
  3. In the end, what the text is inviting us to do is a sort of investigation, or a quest for truth. This truth is to be found in the interstices or, in other words, the unstable in-between zones

Northrop Frye, in A Natural Perspective, explains that there is often in Shakespearian comedies what he calls "a displacement from a world of chaos to a forest". The world of chaos is in As You Like It the Court, the spatial framework which used to prevail in the first Act of the play. Normally associated with the beautiful and the orderly, the Court needs here to be understood as a "chaos". The resolution of this chaos will be initiated in the wood, normally the place of the irrational and the dangerous. It gives us a first key idea to analyse Shakespeare's comedy As You Like It: it operates a reworking of the traditional lairs and plays on paradoxes. The scene (II, 4) which is going to be analysed functions as a specific instance of "displacement" that Frye writes about. One must bear in mind though that displacement only is not enough; characters also have to master the codes of the new place, to avoid the state of penury and be able to nurture themselves.

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