Summary and Analysis Act IV: Scene 2


Several of Duke Senior’s followers have been hunting, and one of them has killed a deer. Jaques suggests that they “present him to the Duke, like a Roman conqueror,” and they carry out their slaughtered trophy, singing “What shall he have that kill’d the deer?”


This scene is a sequel to the last scene. Jaques again assumes his pose as critic-at-large. It is characteristic of him to criticize a song before it is sung, and this song, one might note, is concerned with the horns of the deer. This is a sexual reference to a man’s being a cuckold — that is, the husband of an unfaithful wife, a situation which the Elizabethan audiences never tired of as a source for comedy. Throughout all of literature, the cuckolded husband has been the butt of many comedies.