Notes to As You Like It, Act 3, Scene 3




Note on the notes:



4. my simple feature: my plain appearance.

5-6. warrant: protect.  what features?: —Audrey is a simple country girl with no education, and it's hard to tell just what alarms her about the word "feature." Does she think it means "teacher"? "pasture"? "creature"?

7-9. I am here with thee and thy goats, as the most capricious poet, honest Ovid, was among the Goths.: —Touchstone here makes a multi-witticism. "Capricious" meant "ingenious, witty," which describes both Touchstone and the great Roman poet Ovid. "Capricious" also meant what it does now, "whimsical, unreasonable," which Touchstone is being in marrying someone who is as unlike him as possible. In addition, the root word in "Capricious" is "caper," Latin for "he-goat" (compare to the name of the constellation of the Goat, Capricorn). And goatishness is associated with lasciviousness (see the phrase, "old goat"), so that it's strongly suggested that Touchstone's motivation in marrying Audrey is simply sexual, which may remind us that Ovid is most famous for his sensual love poetry. Furthermore, in Shakespeare's time, "goat" and "Goth" sounded very much alike, and Ovid was indeed exiled from the center of the civilized world, Rome, to an outback region (the Black Sea shore of present-day Romania) filled with barbarian Goths, as Touchstone, the courtly fool, is now wandering about with Audrey, who is such a country girl that she doesn't understand a bit of his wit.

10. ill-inhabited: i.e., inappropriately housed in lowly lodgings.

11. Jove in a thatched house: —Ovid, in his Metamorphoses, tells the story of how Jupiter and Mercury, disguised, stayed as guests in the cottage of poor but honest Baucis and Philemon. Jaques' general point is that knowledge of classical literature (including the works of Ovid) is inappropriate for a fool such as Touchstone.

13. seconded: aided.  forward: precocious, of quick and eager intelligence.

15. great reckoning in a little room: i.e., high bill in a lowly tavern.

17. honest: honorable, true.

18. true: honorable.

20. feigning: 1) imaginative, 2) lying.

26. honest: chaste.

29. hard-favor'd: ugly.

32. material: full of "matter," good sense.

33. fair: beautiful.

36. foul: ugly.

43. Sir: courtesy title for a priest.  Martext: —His last name suggests that Sir Oliver is ignorant of the holy texts that he is supposed to teach and preach.

49. stagger: hesitate, waver.  attempt: undertaking.

50-51. But what though?: but what of that?

51. horns are odious: —Horns are odious because they grow on the foreheads of cuckolds, to their great shame. This bit of folklore is the occasion for many jokes in the play, all of them emphasizing the foolishness of the whole idea and its associated obsessions.

52-53. necessary: inevitable.  many a man knows no end of his goods: i.e., many a man thinks his wealth is inexhaustible.

54. dowry: the wealth that a wife brings into a marriage.

55. getting: 1) earning, 2) begetting.

57. rascal: lean, worthless deer.

61-63. by how much defence is better than no skill, by so much is a horn more precious than to want: i.e., as it is better to be on guard against losing what you have than to be indifferent, so it is better to have a cuckold's horn than to lack one. —In other words, it's better to have a wife (even if she makes you a cuckold) than to be a bachelor, because when you have a wife, you have something worth defending.

65. dispatch us: finish off our business, i.e., marry us.

73. You are very well met: i.e., it's good that you are here.

74. God 'ild you for your last company: God reward you for the last time you kept company with me. —That time was described by Jaques in Act 2, Scene 7, lines 12-34.

75-76. even a toy in hand here: it's just a trifling matter that is underway here.  nay, pray be covered: i.e., no, [you don't need to take off your hat to me,] please put your hat on. —Of course, Jaques hasn't doffed his hat, and wouldn't doff his hat to anyone; Touchstone is slyly making fun of Jaques' pomposity.

78-80. bow: yoke.  curb: the strap attached to a horse's bridle under the jaw.  —The oxen's bow, the horse's curb, and the falcon's bells are all used to control the animal, so Touchstone seems to be saying that we are controlled by our desires.

85-86. can tell you what marriage is: instruct you in the responsibilities of marriage.

90. I am not in the mind but I were better: i.e., I think it might be better for me.

97. married: i.e., properly married in church, by a qualified priest.  live in bawdry: i.e., fornicate.

99. 'O sweet Oliver . . . :. —Scholars agree that at least some of these lines are from a ballad current in Shakespeare's time.

103. Wind: wander, go.

106. fantastical: full of ridiculous notions.