Does the use of an 1850s Victorian setting achieve an effective understanding of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It when presented to a 21st century audience?
This dissertation aims to look into the way in which the central themes and dynamics present within Shakespeare’s As You Like It may be presented to a contemporary 21st century audience. This will be done by investigating the historical time period of the Victorian 1850s due to the heavily comparable similarities between the play’s themes and the social dynamics of Victorian life. The use of a historical setting will provide audiences of the 21st century with a clear understanding of the issues present within the play but will still be clearly understood thanks to the increasingly popular presence of television period drama that already exists. By using extensive textual analysis to draw out the specific areas within the play that highlight the key themes within the play these can therefore be illuminated effectively through the use of comparison next to a Victorian backdrop. Through further visual research presented in the form of accompanying portfolio, this study will allow for a visual representation of the mood, atmosphere and initial artistic ideas formed during the process of designing the world for As You Like It. The written element of the study will research further into the dynamic of gender within the Victorian period and the way in which the characters reflect the social responsibilities expected of their sex, as well as the social hierarchy which dictated the way the Victorian people lived and how class played such an influential role in their lives much the same as the way these issues affect the characters of As You Like It.