As You Like It by William Shakespeare Act 5 Summary

As You Like It by William Shakespeare Menu

Scene 5.1 – In the Forest of Arden.

Touchstone has discovered that there is another young man, a forester named William, who lays claim to Audrey’s love. Audrey assures Touchstone that he has no claim to her. When the slow-thinking William approaches the pair to talk to them, Touchstone first seems to speak politely to William, then confuses and taunts him with his swift wit and fast talk, and finally threatens him: first in complicated language, then “translating” into simple words, he tells William that Audrey is engaged to marry Touchstone, and that if William does not leave her alone, Touchstone will kill him. The intimidated (and apparently harmless) William slinks away, and Corin enters to tell Touchstone that “Ganymede” and “Aliena” are looking for him. Along with Audrey, they go off to meet them.

Scene 5.2 – In the Forest of Arden.

Oliver and Orlando are friends again, and Oliver has extraordinary news for Orlando: he and “Aliena” (Celia) are in love, and want to be married tomorrow! He promises Orlando that he will give him all of their dead father’s estate, and live a humble life with “Aliena” in the forest. Orlando agrees to this.
Rosalind/”Ganymede” enters, and Oliver departs to tell “Aliena” the good news. Orlando and “Ganymede” discuss the swiftness with which Oliver and “Aliena” have fallen in love, but the conversation clearly has a double meaning: Orlando admits how unhappy it makes him to see his brother happy when he himself cannot marry the woman he loves. When “Ganymede’s” lighthearted suggestion that “he” stand in for Rosalind at the wedding is turned down flat, “Ganymede” grows serious: He tells Orlando that he knows something about magic, and that difficult as it may be to believe, he can bring Rosalind to Orlando tomorrow at the wedding, and Orlando will be able to marry her if he likes.
Phoebe suddenly bursts in, with Silvius in tow. She scolds “Ganymede” for having shown anyone else the letter she wrote him, but he scorns her back and tells her to love Silvius. The conversation degenerates into a long sequence in which each person pleads their love for someone else: Phoebe loves “Ganymede,” Silvius loves Phoebe, Orlando loves Rosalind, and “Ganymede” – as he says – loves “no woman.” Finally, “Ganymede” commands everyone to go home now, but to gather at the same spot the next day. Then, he promises Phoebe, he will marry her, if he ever marries a woman; he will satisfy Orlando, and make Silvius happy; and they all, including “Ganymede” himself, will be married tomorrow. Puzzled but pleased, promising to appear the next day, everyone departs.

Scene 5.3 – In the Forest of Arden.

Touchstone and Audrey are walking in the forest together, happily anticipating their wedding, which is to be held the next day. They come upon two of the Duke’s page boys, who sing them a pretty song about lovers in the springtime. Touchstone, with his typical acerbic wit, insults their singing with a complicated pun, and walks away with Audrey.

Scene 5.4 – In the Forest of Arden.

All the main characters have gathered in the forest: Duke Senior and his lords, Jacques, Orlando, Oliver, and Celia arrive to wait for “Ganymede,” who quickly arrives leading Phoebe and Silvius. “Ganymede” double-checks all the promises that have been made by the various parties: Duke Senior has promised to give his daughter Rosalind to Orlando, if “Ganymede” can somehow make her appear, and Orlando swears he will marry her if she does. Phoebe has vowed that she will marry “Ganymede” if he will agree – but if for some reason Phoebe herself should change her mind, she will have to accept Silvius instead. Silvius, for his part, will marry Phoebe at the drop of a hat. Re-confirming everyone’ s promises, “Ganymede” withdraws, promising to bring Rosalind in in a few moments.
Jacques joins the party, commenting cuttingly on the way in which the couples are lined up like animals going to the Ark. He has brought Touchstone and Audrey along with him, and introduces Touchstone to Duke Senior with great enthusiasm. Touchstone demonstrates his wit through a very involved, complicated joke which parodies the ritualistic manners observed by noblemen when they challenged each other to duels.
Suddenly, to the accompaniment of soft music, Rosalind enters – but she is now dressed as a woman, her disguise finally removed! She is accompanied by Celia, who has also taken off her disguise of rags and dirt, and also by Hymen – the Greco-Roman god of marriage, who has entered the play as a symbol of the weddings which are about to occur. Hymen presents Rosalind to the astonished Duke, and Rosalind tells both Duke Senior and Orlando that she gives herself to them, for she belongs to them both. Orlando and Duke Senior welcome her with amazement, but Phoebe, understanding what she sees, realizes that she must give up her love for “Ganymede.”
Hymen tells everyone that he will wrap up all these strange events by marrying the eight people gathered there, and he solemnly announces the unions of the pairs: Orlando and Rosalind, Oliver and Celia, Phoebe and Silvius, and Touchstone and Audrey. A marriage song is sung to celebrate the unions.
Duke Senior gladly welcomes Celia, whom he has recognized as his niece, and Phoebe tells Silvius that she’s decided she likes him after all. But suddenly, out of nowhere, a new character enters: it is Jacques de Boys, the third brother of Oliver and Orlando! He bears important news: Duke Frederick, the wicked brother of Duke Senior, had gathered together a large army to come and capture his brother in the forest. But in the outskirts of Arden, he happened to come across a wise, holy old man, who converted Frederick to the religious life. Frederick has decided to become a monk, and to restore to Duke Senior his crown and kingdom. Duke Senior gladly welcomes this news, and points out that they are fine wedding gifts for both Orlando and Oliver: he means that Oliver can have his lands again, which Duke Frederick had seized when he banished him from the palace (in Scene 3.1), and Orlando is now heir to a large kingdom – since he is Rosalind’s husband, he will become the next Duke after Duke Senior’s death. Duke Senior promises that all his friends will be rewarded when they return to civilization. In the meantime, he orders that the musicians strike up the music for a happy wedding dance.
But Jacques interrupts him, announcing his own plan to seek out the holy man who converted Duke Frederick and to become a monk himself. He turns to each of his male friends – Duke Senior, Orlando, Oliver, Silvius, and finally Touchstone – and wishes them happiness, though not without a touch of his usual dry humor. Duke Senior implores Jacques to stay with them, but Jacques says he is not made for dancing or pleasure, and he will await Duke Senior’s final orders at the cave headquarters. As he leaves, Duke Senior tells the band to finally strike up, and hopes that all the marriages will end – as they now begin – with joy.