Act I, Scene 1
Orlando is feeling salty because his older brother won’t let him partake in any gentlemanly pursuits. Since their father died, Oliver has been in charge of his younger brothers. The middle brother gets to go to school and successfully build his future. Orlando, however, is kept at home where he isn’t allowed to do anything. He’s treated like one of Oliver’s animals.
Of course, he expresses his frustrations to his loyal servant Adam (who I’m sure is treated much better than Orlando). He sends Adam away though as soon as Oliver approaches. Oliver doesn’t understand what is bothering Orlando. If he doesn’t like his situation, he should just change it. When Orlando asks how, exactly, he should change his situation with no money and no support, Oliver reminds him where he is and who he’s talking to. This makes Orlando even saltier and he points out that he is just as much their father’s son as Oliver is. Just because the law sees Oliver as superior doesn’t mean he actually is.
Now Oliver is salty and things escalate pretty quickly, culminating in Orlando choking Oliver. Adam pops back in to try and calm the situation, but fails. Orlando insists that if his brother will not provide him an education, to at least give him the money his father left him. Oliver won’t do that because Orlando will just come ask for more money later. Oliver sends Orlando away and tells Adam to go with him, referring to Adam as an old dog. Adam is pretty offended that the master he has been loyal to for years is insulting him.
Oliver calls in another servant, Dennis, to bring in his guest, Charles the Duke’s wrestler. Charles and Oliver chit chat a little bit about the goings on at court. Turns out the Duke overthrew and banished his brother. Now he keeps his niece at court to entertain his own daughter.
Charles is going to be wrestling challengers tomorrow and is concerned because Orlando intends to compete. Orlando is much smaller than Charles and he is worried Oliver will be angry when Charles beats up his little brother. Turns out Oliver SUPER doesn’t care. In fact, he would be content if Charles killed his brother. Charles is quite relieved to hear that he won’t be in any hot water over beating up Orlando.
Once Charles leaves, Oliver reveals that he hates his brother for no good reason. People like Orlando better and that bothers him, but he’s about to get a serious beat down, so it’s all good.
Act I, Scene 2
Celia asks Rosalind to be happy, but Rosalind is having a hard time doing that seeing as her father has been banished to the forest of Arden. Celia thinks that Rosalind should be happy because she is with Celia. Their love should be enough. Rosalind sarcastically quips that she will just stop being sad for herself in order to be happy for Celia. Celia assures her that once Celia’s father dies, Celia will return the title to Rosalind. That seems to turn things around and they decide to focus their energy on something fun. Rosalind suggests love, but Celia shoots that idea down. They decide instead to mock fortune. This starts a fun debate over the function of Nature vs Fortune.
Touchstone enters, but the ladies are too busy discuss Nature and Fortune to let him speak. Celia finally asks him what he wants. He explains that Celia needs to go to her father. Touchstone is the clown so he quibbles over the meaning of words and starts going on about a knight with some pancakes and mustard. He finally reveals that he is talking about someone that Frederick, Celia’s father loves. Celia thinks Frederick should be given more respect because her father loves him.
Before this debate can continue any longer, Le Beau enters with the hot gossip. The ladies have been missing out on some great wrestling. They don’t really care and take the opportunity to be quippy with Le Beau. He is frustrated but continues telling them about the wrestling and how Charles broke some guys ribs. The ladies aren’t too upset about missing that. It doesn’t matter how they feel about wrestling though because the next match is coming to them.
Duke Frederick comes in, expressing concern for the next young wrestler, Orlando. He asks the ladies to try to talk Orlando out of fighting. They try to tell him that he thinks too highly of his abilities and they will beg the Duke to stop the wrestling. He asks them not to do that, but to send their well wishes with him into the match. They agree to do just that.
They wrestle and Orlando actually wins. The Duke asks who he is and he reveals he is the son of Rowland de Boys. The Duke doesn’t like Rowland because he was friends with the banished Duke. Rosalind and Celia feel bad that Duke Frederick was so rude to Orlando. Rosalind gives him her necklace. It quickly becomes clear that Rosalind and Orlando like each other…a lot. After the ladies leave, Orlando admonishes himself for not being able to talk to Rosalind.
Le Beau warns Orlando that he should leave. The Duke is a hot-head and likely to take his anger out on Orlando. Before he leaves, though, Orlando confirms that he was talking to Rosalind, the daughter of the banished Duke.
Act I, Scene 3
Celia can’t figure out what is wrong with Rosalind. At first, she thinks it’s grief over her banished father. But no, Rosalind isn’t worried about that at all because she’s in love with Orlando.
Duke Frederick comes in and banishes Rosalind. Rosalind asks what she did wrong. He doesn’t trust her and thinks she is a traitor. She insists she isn’t a traitor just because he doesn’t trust her. He banishes her because she is her father’s daughter. She points out that she was his daughter the whole time, but that doesn’t seem to bother him. Celia begs him to let Rosalind stay for her sake. He had Rosalind stay when he first banished the Duke and she didn’t really care at the time, but now she and Rosalind have grown very close. He assures his daughter that it will be better if Rosalind goes because people tend to like her better, so now Celia will look better without Rosalind around. Celia insists that if he banishes Rosalind, he should banish her too. The Duke thinks that’s silly and leaves.
Celia is so upset and thinks that she should be more upset because her love for Rosalind is so intense. They decide to flee into the woods together. In order to travel safely, Celia will dress as a peasant woman and Rosalind will dress as a man. They will also bring Touchstone with them.
Act II, Scene 1
The banished Duke is actually pretty content with his current situation. He doesn’t have to worry about the underhanded goings on of court life. He, instead, gets to enjoy the simple pleasures of nature.
He thinks they should go hunting for deer, even though he feels guilty for hunting the animals in their own forest. Jaques also laments how they hunt the deer. He saw an injured deer the other day and wept. He thinks of them as usurpers of the forest.
The Duke enjoys when Jaques is all sad and contemplative, so he wants to go find him.
Act II, Scene 2
Duke Frederick wants to know what happened to his daughter and Rosalind. No one seems to know where they went, but Touchstone is gone too. There is also a ladies maid who overheard them praising Orlando. The Duke demands to see Orlando immediately.
Act II, Scene 3
Adam rushes to Orlando praising him for his virtues. Orlando is somewhat taken aback by the desperate praises from Adam. Adam reveals that Oliver is planning to kill Orlando and he should flee. Orlando doesn’t want to go though because he has no money and he’s way too awesome to be begging for a living. Adam gives him the 500 crowns he was saving for retirement. They decide to flee together.
Act II, Scene 4
Rosalind (disguised as a man), Celia, and Touchstone are tired and hungry from their journey into the forest. A shepherd, Corin, and a young man, Silvius, enter discussing Silvius’s love life. Silvius is one of those young men that thinks no one has ever loved anyone as deeply as he loves Phebe.
Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone feel for the young man. Once he is gone, they approach Corin and ask for some food. He doesn’t have much to give. He is poor and the owner of his farm is selling it. He’s about to lose everything. They offer to give them gold to buy his farm. That seems like a pretty good deal in exchange for food and shelter. Corin invites them back to the farm.