56 pages 1 hour read

William Shakespeare

As You Like It

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1599

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Before Reading

Reading Context

Use these questions or activities to help gauge students’ familiarity with and spark their interest in the context of the work, giving them an entry point into the text itself.

Short Answer

1. Shakespeare’s As You Like It likely premiered in 1599, at a time when women still played a largely subordinate role to men in English society. Drawing from your studies in history and literature as well as ideas from film or novels, compile a list of 6-8 pieces of information about women in 16th and 17th century England—their daily lives, potential roles in society, manners of dress and speech, or other areas. You might consider female characters in other Shakespearean plays for ideas, as well as historical figures from the period such as Queen Elizabeth I.

Teaching Suggestion: Students might work independently or in pairs to compile lists, then share their ideas on the board or display for discussion (and fact-checking, if needed). Though women were generally subordinate to men in 16th and 17th century England, there were also notable exceptions to this rule: This century saw two important female monarchs assume the English crown—Queen Mary and later her half-sister Queen Elizabeth I. Elizabeth, in fact, rose to become one of the most important monarchs of English history, consolidating her country’s naval power and setting the stage for the unification of English and Scottish crowns.