Shakespeare 2 Essay

Submitted By Chloe-Bradley-Dodd10
Words: 1355
Pages: 6

“Shakespeare’s presentation of the character Jaques ultimately detracts from the audience’s enjoyment of As You Like It.” Discuss with close reference to Act Two Scene Seven, Act Three Scene Two and Three and Act Five Scene Four, how Shakespeare utilises the character of Jaques within the context of the play.
The character Jaques delights in being sad- a somewhat disparate role in the play. Jaques possessing such melancholy brings him to believe he is the perfect one to be Duke Senior’s fool. Such a position leads Jaques to be of the knowledge that he can “speak his mind”, and the criticism that follows forth will “Cleanse the foul body of the infected world”, however Duke Senior is aware of Jaques’ ways and in actual fact he may do less than abrade sins that Jaques himself has committed. He purposefully seeks out experiences that are depressing. One thing Jaques lacks, in comparison to King Leare’s Fool, is the keenness and insight of Shakespeare’s most accomplished jesters. If anything he is an aspiring fool, not a professional.
Just about everything depresses the character Jaques “"I can suck melancholy out of a song, as a weasel sucks eggs," he brags. Jaques even refuses to take part in the wedding festivities at the end of the play. This is a significant factor within the play, Jaques’ refusal of activities emphasises the fact the character expresses notions that everything is an act; the way in which people behave and the play itself. Which leads to his “All the world’s a stage”, speech. The play itself casts doubt on the ideas in the speech; Jaques insists that man spends the final stages of his life in “mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything”. When Jaques says "all the world's a stage," he draws our attention to the theatricality of day-to-day living and he also reduces human life to an acting role, which is a pretty cynical thing to do. Of course, Shakespeare also draws our attention to the fact that Jaques really is nothing more than an actor performing a role on a stage. Shakespeare loves reminding his play-going audiences that they're at the theatre – he does it in just about all of his plays, including Hamlet and The Taming of the Shrew. Jaques' role in the play is more of an observer than an actor. Early in the play, Jaques remains a mystery to the audience, being discussed extensively by fellow characters. Once he appears, Jaques' thematic importance and memorable presence in As You Like It is quite impressive. Though much about Jaques' past is obscure - his conversations with Rosalind shows that he lost his optimism while traveling the world. Whatever the root of his bitterness, Jaques always places himself outside the group of happy characters who populate Arden. His function seems to be to provide a sharp foil for the wit of other characters, but also to create a shadow within the sunny forest. Jaques is a constant reminder that in the real world time is not suspended, and grief, sorrow and death provide a counterpoint to all human joys, a kind of embodied presentiment of Poussin's 'et in arcadia ego'.
We sort of see why Nobel Prize winning playwright George Bernard Shaw found him "exasperating" and hated Jaques's penchant for "sham moralizing." On the other hand, we think the great thing about the character is the fact that Shakespeare knows Jaques is full of nonsense. Why else would Shakespeare name the guy "Jaques" (pronounced jay-kweez), a word that basically means "toilet"? It seems like Shakespeare is pretty up front about Jaques.
Jaques has no particular interest in being part of an established society. He creates his own role and his own destiny. By his mere presence in the play we are made aware of the infinite choices that confront human beings in their lives. Rosalind is the only other character in As You Like It who really challenges established roles, but whereas she (in all likelihood) returns to court and is satisfied with the new development (after all, she…