Classified as a 'pastoral' comedy, in this charming play, alongside the story of romantic lovers, there runs a thin line of social criticism highlighting the cruelties and corruption of court life.
Rosalind, the most inspiring of Shakespeare's female characters, is the daughter of the banished Duke Senior. Orlando is the disinherited son of one of the duke's friends.
His estranged brother Oliver is behind his life. Orlando's manliness attracts Rosalind and they fall in love with each other. Oliver flees to the Forest of Arden to escape his brother's wrath. When Rosalind too is banished by Duke Fredrick, she disguises herself as a boy, calls herself Ganymede, and goes to the Forest of Arden to meet her father as well as Orlando.
She is accompanied by her cousin Celia and the jester Touchstone. What follows thereafter in the forest are situations that typically reflect the pastoral form of literature.
The play ends in the wedlock of the lovers, with the repentance of the evil-minded Duke, the restoration of the throne to Duke Senior and happy family reunions.
What is apparent and enjoyable throughout the story plot are the contrasts such as , natural world versus court life, realism versus romance, young versus old, good versus evil and the like.