OWL Magazine Korea

“As You Like It” by William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare, a representative playwright of the Renaissance era in England, is considered one of the greatest playwrights in British history. His masterpieces have been adapted into films and referenced in various works of literature.

Among Shakespeare’s notable works are the “four great tragedies,” which include “Hamlet,” “King Lear,” “Othello,” and “Macbeth.” Additionally, Shakespeare’s works include the “five great comedies,” although they are relatively less well-known compared to the tragedies.

Shakespeare’s five great comedies include “The Merchant of Venice,” “The Taming of the Shrew,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “As You Like It,” and “Twelfth Night.” Among these, “The Merchant of Venice” is perhaps the most familiar to us.

However, let’s take a closer look at the play “As You Like It” this time. The English title of “뜻대로 하세요” is “As You Like It,” although some may translate it into Korean as “님 좋으실 대로.”

Plot Summary of “As You Like It”:

Duke Frederick banishes his brother and usurps power. His daughter Celia pleads with him to allow her cousin Rosalind to stay at the court. Meanwhile, Orlando, mistreated by his brother Oliver, participates in a wrestling match organized by Duke Frederick. Despite concerns from others, Orlando defeats the champion wrestler Charles. Rosalind falls in love with Orlando at first sight, and he reciprocates.

Due to Orlando’s victory, Duke Frederick banishes him, prompting him to flee to the Forest of Arden. Rosalind, disguised as a young man named Ganymede, along with Celia and the court jester Touchstone, also seek refuge in the forest. In the forest, other characters like Silvius and Phoebe also navigate their romantic pursuits.

Orlando, grieving his banishment, expresses his love for Rosalind by writing poetry and posting it throughout the forest. When Rosalind, disguised as Ganymede, meets Orlando, she plays along with his affection, testing his love for her. Eventually, through a series of humorous events and misunderstandings, the tangled relationships are resolved.

The play ends joyfully with multiple weddings, including Rosalind and Orlando’s, and Duke Frederick’s sudden change of heart, restoring harmony to the kingdom.

The play features elements of the “Deus Ex Machina” theatrical device, where sudden divine intervention resolves complicated situations, ensuring a happy ending. Additionally, Shakespeare’s skillful use of language and structure, such as “chiasmus” and “antimetabole,” adds depth and richness to the text.

“Second Most Famous Passage in Shakespeare’s Works”

When we think of the most famous passages in Shakespeare’s works, the one that comes to mind is often “To be or not to be, that is the question,” which appears in Hamlet.

In this work, another famous passage emerges, spoken by the character Jaques, reflecting on the stages of human life, known as “The Seven Ages of Man.”

  • ”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 caoon’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 stage, evenful history,
  • Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
  • Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.“

This scene was even recreated in video format by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), capturing its essence in a short two-minute clip.

The depiction of life’s seven stages, from infancy to old age, with each characterized by its unique traits, offers profound insight into the human experience. Though some aspects may seem disconnected, such as the references to a soldier and a justice, they still resonate with the broader themes presented. In the context of Korean society, where military service is common for most men, these references hold particular relevance.

The structure of this passage, known as “Chiasmus Chiastic,” with its symmetrically arranged sentences, adds to its aesthetic appeal. Additionally, the metaphor of life as a stage, known as “Metatheatre,” enhances the thematic depth of the passage.

Lastly, the character Jaques’ description of old age as a state devoid of teeth, sight, taste, and everything else, followed by the ironic appearance of Adam, a hearty old man, serves as a clever use of “Presentational Imagery,” adding a layer of humor to the scene.

Trendy Phrases from Comedy Concerts: “…하면 뭐하겠노…, … 하겠지…”

There was a popular phrase in comedy concerts during the 2010s.

  • “If you get a job, what are you gonna do?
  • You’ll probably make a lot of money. If you make a lot of money, what are you gonna do?
  • You’ll probably feel good and buy some beef.
  • If you buy some beef, what are you gonna do…”

In this format, which continues like this, it once gained widespread popularity throughout Korea.

A similar structure of sentences can be found in the works of Shakespeare. In one of Shakespeare’s comedies, “As You Like It,” the following dialogue appears:

  • “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 knew the reason but they sought the remedy…”

The technique of continuing from what was said in the previous sentence to the next sentence is applied here, known as “Anadiplosis.”

“Antimetabole (Mirror Structure)”

Some lines exhibit various structures. The form called “Antimetabole” refers to a “Mirror Structure,” where sentences follow the pattern “A – B, B – A.” Examples of this include:

  • “Your gentleness shall force more than your force move us to gentle.”
  • “The more pity that fools may not speak wisely what wise men do foolishly.”

Of course, besides the mentioned parts, there are many other interesting aspects. However, when encountering the original text, it’s worth noting that while Modern English and Renaissance-era English are similar, there are slight differences. Especially, the concepts of intransitive and transitive verbs often differ.

Therefore, when reading Shakespeare’s works in the original text, there are instances where one might assume, “Wouldn’t this be used naturally in Modern English?” Such differences can sometimes lead to misunderstandings, particularly in exams like TOEIC, where “grammar” is assessed as an important element, potentially resulting in a negative impact.

“As You Like It”