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Word Count: 423
As You Like It features like so many of Shakespeares plays a professional clown Touchstone and its worth paying some attention to his role for what it contributes towards establishing and maintaining the upbeat comic spirit of the play For the jester is the constant commentator on what is going on His humour pointed or otherwise thus inevitably contributes to the audiences awareness of what is happening and the way in which other characters treat him is often a key indicator of their sensibilities Touchstone is one of the gentlest and happiest clowns in all of Shakespeare He comments on the action makes jokes at other peoples expense and offers ironic insights about their situation But throughout As You Like It such traditional roles of the fool are offered and taken with a generosity of spirit so that his remarks never shake the firm comic energies of the play When he ridicules Orlandos verses Rosalind laughs along with him When he points out to Corin in 32 that the shepherd must be damned for never having lived at court Corin takes it as good natured jesting which it is When Touchstone takes Audrey away from her rural swain William there are apparently no hard feelings although much here depends on the staging In this play the professional jester participates in and contributes to a style of social interaction which is unqualified by any more sober and serious reflections This makes Touchstone very different from the bitter fool of King Lear or from the most complex fool of all the sad Feste of Twelfth Night both of whom offer comments that cast either a shrewd melancholy or bitter irony on the proceedings Touchstone himself becomes the target of much humour by his immediate attraction to Audrey the foul country lass There is something richly comic here seeing the staunch apologist for the sophisticated life of the court fall so quickly to
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