He describes the advantages of forest life to be far greater then court life and the audience gets the feeling that life is far more easy going and relaxed in the country as opposed to the busy, eventful life they led in the court. The duke says ‘hath not old custom made this life more sweet. ’ But despite the romanticized nature of the duke’s description of forest life, it also has realistic references such as the ‘winter wind’ and the ‘poisonous toad’.
This passage also gives an insight into the duke’s character. The duke is able to look at the benefits of forest life after having lived in court and having been so unjustly exiled from it. This shows great patience, wisdom, and resilience on his part. His sensitivity towards those around him is highlighted when he says it distresses him that they hunt venison it its own land. The first lord then goes on to introduce Jacques despite his absence on stage.
He recalls Jacques’s exaggerated and dramatic response to the dying deer and how he begins to moralize the abandonment of the deer by its herd. This over-dramatic nature of pastoral life is used as comic relief to balance out the drama that took place in court life, and to an extent its innocence which is shown by the fact that the great tragedies taking place in the forest is dying venison. This in turn highlights the more evil and tragic nature of court life where you have scheming and murderous brothers.
On a larger scale, this scene also presents a contrast between the two brother duke Frederick, and duke senior. In act 1 duke Frederick is shown as a self-involved, paranoid, and power-obsessed character who lacks the generosity, forgiveness, and wisdom that his elder brother, duke senior possess. This scene in general provides an insight into duke senior’s character and presents a contrast between pastoral and court life while providing the audience with a break from the courts vices.