As You Like It: A Dream Play

By: Laura B. Vogel

Abstract: The title As You Like It suggests satisfaction of the audience’s fancies. We propose that the play’s construction incorporates the strategy of dreams, in which a dream wish is disguised by dream work: here the “wish” is the consummation of Rosalind and Orlando’s mutual desire, and the dream work includes elision of logic, magical thinking, displacement, condensation, and symbolization. The audience become dreamers, and the improbable plot the dream. The dream-like qualities of the play are enhanced in the Forest of Arden, the realm of snake and lioness and fairy-tales, a territory that evokes wishes and fears. Shakespeare’s use of condensation accounts for some of the variability in interpretation and perception of the plays.