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Shakspeare, As you like it. Act IV, Scene III

1803, Engraving
Shakspeare, As you like it. Act IV, Scene III
Shakspeare, As you like it. Act IV, Scene III
Shakspeare, As you like it. Act IV, Scene III
Library Item
Item no
Shakspeare [Shakespeare]. As you like it. Act IV, Scene III
OLIVER: Under an oak, whose boughs were moss'd with age/ And high top bald with dry antiquity,/ A wretched ragged man, o'ergrown with hair,/ Lay sleeping on his back: about his neck/ A green and gilded snake had wreathed itself [...]

The engraving depicts a dramatic turning point of the play. This is the point when the evil brother repents his sins, and one of the main conflicts begins to resolve. Again, this scene is only described in the play by Oliver but the artist – not bound to the limits of the stage – could illustrate it word-by-word. In the deep dark forest, in the middle of the night Oliver was attacked by a snake and a lioness was also lurking about. His brother, Orlando came upon him and saved him from both, even though Oliver refused to educate him well, thus taking away his future from him.
Here Orlando is pictured as a dauntless warrior. He wears somewhat archaic clothing and sandals, and of course, in his neck there is the chain given to him by Rosalind. He charges towards the lioness with determination. Oliver lies at the base of a dead and ominous tree with the snake slithering on his body. His position is a clear homage to the Laocoon group sculpture.
The illustration depicts the frightening, suspenseful nature of the situation, which is only told in the drama, not shown. In this frozen moment the viewer cannot be sure about the hero’s faith.
W. C. Wilson
63 x 49.5 cm
Art and Design Library
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