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Scene Summaries With Notes
Act I, Scene 1
The opening scene of the play is set in the orchard of Oliver. He is the eldest of the three sons of the late Sir Rowland De Boys; his brothers are Jaques and Orlando. As the play opens, Orlando is complaining to Adam, his old faithful servant, about the unfair treatment meted out to him by his oldest brother, Oliver. Orlando says that his late father left a thousand crowns to be used for his education. Although Oliver pays for the education of the middle brother, Jaques, he has refused to pay for Orlando's education. Instead, he keeps him "rustically at home" in a near poor condition.
When Oliver enters, Orlando accosts him, almost violently. He demands that he be educated like a gentleman or else be given the inheritance left by Sir Rowland. Oliver grudgingly promises to give him the money. He then rudely orders Orlando and Adam out of his sight. Alone, Oliver contemplates getting rid of Orlando without giving him his inheritance.
Dennis, Oliver's servant, enters and informs his master that Charles, Duke Frederick's wrestler, has arrived. When Charles is shown in, he and Oliver discuss the affairs of the court. It is learned that Duke Senior has been banished by Duke Frederick, his younger brother. Supposedly, Duke Senior and some of his lords are living in the Forest of Arden, where they behave like Robin Hood and his band of merry men. Duke Senior's daughter, Rosalind, has not been allowed to accompany her father to the forest, because Duke Frederick's daughter, Celia, is fond of Rosalind's company.
The conversation shifts to the wrestling match that is to take place the next day. Charles tells Oliver that it is rumored that Orlando will wrestle with him. Charles is worried that Orlando will be injured and tells Oliver that he should try to dissuade Orlando from participating in the match. The wicked Oliver paints a horrible and untrue picture of his youngest brother and urges Charles to break Orlando's neck. Charles agrees to do his best.
The scene ends with a short soliloquy by Oliver in which he expresses the real reason for his hatred of Orlando. He is terribly jealous of Orlando's many noble qualities and fears that the people love his younger brother more than himself.