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Orlando finds it difficult to settle down to the peaceful life of the forest, for he can think of nothing except Rosalind, whom he loves dearly even though he has met her only once. He goes about the forest hanging love notes to her and carving love poems in the bark of trees. Jaques ridicules Orlando for his romanticism, for he dislikes love, innocence, and the beauty of springtime. Touchstone and Celia, seeing the love notes and poems, tease Rosalind because her name appears everywhere in the forest. Finally, Rosalind and Orlando come face to face in the forest, but since Rosalind is disguised as a boy, he does not recognize her. To tease him, Ganymede (the disguised Rosalind) encourages Orlando to pay suit to her as though she were the Rosalind of his poems.
Oliver comes to the forest seeking to kill Orlando. When he is threatened by a deadly snake and then a lioness, the kind Orlando saves his wicked brother. Softened by his escape, he falls in love with Aliena, and their wedding is arranged for the next day. In the meantime, Ganymede tells Orlando that she will by magic produce Rosalind and have him married to her.
The plot of the play is further complicated by the love of Phebe, a shepherd, for Ganymede; but Phebe is loved by Silvius, whom Phebe rejects to pursue Ganymede. Touchstone has also fallen in love and decided to marry Audrey, a country maiden. Audrey, however, is loved by William, a country fellow, who must be chased away by Touchstone.
All pairs of lovers are assembled in the forest at the request of Ganymede, who has promised to solve their problems. When they are gathered, Celia and Rosalind remove their disguises. Orlando is delighted to see the woman of his dreams. He is even more pleased when she marries him. Celia is also wedded to Oliver; Touchstone marries Audrey; and Phebe is united with Silvius. More good news arrives. Jacques tells Duke Senior that Frederick has been converted by a religious man and restored his dukedom. Everything ends on a happy note.
In the epilogue, spoken by Rosalind, she asks for the audience's pardon for the play's shortcomings. She appeals to the women to appreciate the play for the sake of the love they have for men. She tells men to appreciate it for the sake of the love they have for women.