William Shakespeare's As You Like It As a Study of Perception and Misperception

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William Shakespeare's As You Like It As a Study of Perception and Misperception

The concepts of perception and misperception are common themes in many of Shakespeare's plays and can be found in his comedies, tragedies and histories alike. Shakespeare explores these often-parallel elements through several different forms in his work, such as disguise, mistaken identity and blindness, and events caused by these can lead to amusing, confusing or sometimes tragic consequences, depending on the nature of the plays themselves.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines 'perception' as 'the ability to see, hear or become aware of something through the senses,' 'a way of regarding, understanding or
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The forest of Arden is a particular example of how the perception of the same thing can vary greatly between different people in As You Like It and can change completely in the mind of one person. The forest is the place to which Rosalind's father, Duke Senior, is banished, and to which Rosalind and Celia flee following the wrath of Celia's father, Duke Frederick. Indeed, it is the setting for much of the action in the play and comes to mean several things to several characters.

The forest represents nature in the standard opposition between that and civilisation, which is represented by the other setting in the play, the court. Arden is perceived by characters such as Duke Senior and his followers as an idyllic and uncorrupted place, whereas the civilised world is seen as irrationally cruel and ruined by humankind. The Duke expresses this with his speech eulogising the forest, 'hath not old custom made this life more sweet than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods more free from peril than the envious court?…this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books
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