Brett Brady on As You Like It, Act 3

Published by admin_main on Wed 29 Sep, 2010

12. In Act 3, Scene 3, Touchstone determines to marry the shepherdess Audrey, and his conversation with her makes yet another "pairing" of diverse characters. What is the basis of Touchstone's match with Audrey? In what ways are they similar, and what are their differences? How might they be a good match, in spite of the gap in understanding that divides them?

We are introduced to Touchstone as a witty, verbose jester and he remains so within his relationships. With that, we see his play on words and his ease in confusing the shepherdess Audrey. One amusing example is their conversation about being "foul."

Lines 31—38

Audrey: Well, I am not fair, and therefore I pray the Gods make me honest.

Touchstone: Truly, and to cast away honesty upon a foul slut were to put good meat into an unclean dish.

Audrey: I am not a slut, though I thank the gods I am foul.

Touchstone: Well praised be the gods for thy foulness! Sluttishness may come hereafter.

This is a great example of Touchstone's knowledge of language and his enjoyment of Audrey's lack thereof. You also get a hint of what is on Touchstone's mind when talking to Audrey. As the scene continues we find out why Touchstone wishes to marry Audrey. In lines 73-75.

Touchstone: As the ox hath his bow, sir, the horse his curb, and the falcon her bells, so man hath his desires.

Simply put I feel that Touchstone is full of lustful desires and he finds an easy target in Audrey. Although they are polar opposites in wit and background, they both have a simple human wish. They both want to be needed by someone. This is not the healthiest combination of people perhaps; however, it works for them. Touchstone is using Audrey for fulfillment of his sexual desires and Audrey more or less goes along with it because she feels wanted by someone, which may be the first time for her according to her descriptions. They are then convinced to be wed at a nearby church, but not before Touchstone argues they should just marry in the woods. He states to Jacques that if he is wed in the woods it will make it an ill marriage, which will make it easier for him to leave her. (lines 82-86) He speaks often of his plans of infidelity and of leaving Audrey in the future, which makes you have sympathy for Audrey in her situation. His plans however are quite contradictory: on one hand, he is determined to marry her to be able to feed his lustful desires, but at the same time he is not above leaving her whenever he sees fit, even after they marry. For Audrey however, these thoughts don't cross her mind, and if they do the reader is never let in on this. It could be either that her lack of intelligence doesn't allow her to think that far into things or she truly wants to marry Touchstone. Even though it seems that the two have little in common, the little that they do have in common will allow them to wed with happiness, at least for a time.


Permalink: http://www.ajdrake.com/wiki/tiki-view_blog_post.php?postId=1389