Act 2, Scene 1 — Duke Senior and his merry men in the Forest of Arden!

Learning objectives: to learn about the “pastoral” in English Literature; to develop your ability to appreciate settings in a play.


Starter: why might writers set stories in forests? What does a forest suggest or connote?


Why does Duke Senior think that life is better in the forest than at court? Why can life in the countryside be very violent?

What is Duke Senior like as a person?

What Jacques think of life in the forest compared with that of life in the town? What is Jacques’ mood and attitude?

Literary criticism:

The scenes in the Forest of Arden are “pastoral” in tone; that is they show life in the countryside as being very pleasant and nice, almost perfect. There is a long tradition of writing about the pastoral in English Literature. Can you think of any films/books/poems/stories you’ve read which show life in the country as being very nice? Who is Duke Senior and his men rather like? (Clue: he robbed from the rich and gave to the poor!)

Creative response:

Write a poem or paragraph which describes someone who lives their life in a forest.




About @wonderfrancis

Francis Gilbert is a Lecturer in Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, teaching on the PGCE Secondary English programme. He also teaches the Creative Writing module on the MA in Children’s Literature, which is run by Maggie Pitfield and Professor Michael Rosen. Previously, he worked for a quarter of a century in various English state schools teaching English and Media Studies to 11-18 year olds. He has, at times, moonlighted as a journalist, novelist and social commentator. He is the author of ‘Teacher On The Run’, ‘Yob Nation’, ‘Parent Power’, ‘Working The System -- How To Get The Very Best State Education for Your Child’, and a novel about school, ‘The Last Day Of Term’. His first book, ‘I'm A Teacher, Get Me Out Of Here’ was a big hit, becoming a bestseller and being serialised on Radio 4. In his role as an English teacher, he has taught many classic texts over the years and has developed a great many resources to assist readers with understanding, appreciating and responding to them both analytically and creatively. This led him to set up his own small publishing company FGI Publishing ( which has published his study guides as well as a number of books by other authors, including Roger Titcombe’s ‘Learning Matters’ and anthology of creative writing 'The Gold Room'. He is the co-founder, with Melissa Benn and Fiona Millar, of The Local Schools Network,, a blog that celebrates non-selective state schools, and has his own website, He has appeared numerous times on radio and TV, including Newsnight, the Today Programme, Woman’s Hour and the Russell Brand Show. In June 2015, he was awarded a PhD in Creative Writing and Education by Goldsmiths.
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