Summary and Analysis Act III: Scene 3


There are other, less romantic lovers in the Forest of Arden. For example, there is the “poetic” and philosophical Touchstone and the earthy Audrey. Yielding to instinct, Touchstone has wooed and has finally won Audrey, perhaps Shakespeare’s most dull-witted country wench. The pair hurry along to meet Sir Oliver Martext, the vicar of the neighboring village, and are followed by Jaques, who is, as might be expected, amused by the incongruous pair. When Sir Oliver arrives, they discover that there is no one to give the bride away, so Jaques offers his services, but he recommends that they be married by a priest as “this fellow will but join you together as they join wainscot.” Touchstone, however, would prefer it that way because, as he says in an aside, “not being well married, it will be a good excuse for me hereafter to leave my wife.” So he decides to find a proper person to marry him and Audrey, and he goes off with Audrey and Jaques, merrily singing and leaving behind a bemused Sir Oliver.


Audrey, very much like Corin and, later, like William, is a realistic, country person. All are contrasts to the pastoral lovers, Silvius and Phebe. The relationship between Audrey and Touchstone is very realistic; this couple is concerned with sexual love, not with chaste, romantic, “poetic” love. Touchstone says, “We must be married, or we must live in bawdry.” Contrast this realism with the verbal excesses of Silvius: “Then shall you know the wounds invisible / That love’s keen arrows make,” Silvius says to Phebe. His words are colored with an abundance of poetic “romance”; occasionally, Orlando also reaches these poetic heights.

Touchstone’s wooing of Audrey is particularly humorous because she never understands the sparring verbal wit of Touchstone at all. This doesn’t bother her unduly, however, and it is her very lack of concern that amuses Jaques, who also finds Touchstone’s utterances full of profound wisdom, still one richer vein of humor in this merry comedy.