Oliver: Where will the old duke live? 
Charles: They say he is already in the Forest of Arden, and a many merry men with him; and there they live like the old Robin Hood of England. They say many young gentlemen flock to him every day and fleet the time carelessly, as they did in the golden world. 
(Act 1, scene 1, lines 112–18)

While discussing the recent usurpation of the ducal seat, Oliver asks the court wrestler, Charles, where the exiled Duke Senior will go. Charles relates the news that Senior has retired to the nearby Forest of Arden, where he lives with a growing court of gentlemen who see the retreat as a therapeutic opportunity for leisure. This is the first moment in the play that clearly establishes the countryside as a pastoral retreat from the city. Arden is a place of legend, as Charles indicates with his references to Robin Hood and to the mythical lost “golden” age so often lamented by the Greeks. Arden is also a symbolic paradise, the name of which clearly links the classical Arcadia to the biblical Eden.

Corin: And how like you this shepherd’s life, Master Touchstone? 
Touchstone: Truly, shepherd, in respect of itself, it is a good life; but in respect that it is a shepherd’s life, it is naught. In respect that it is solitary, I like it very well; but in respect that it is private, it is a very vile life. Now in respect it is in the fields, it pleaseth me well; but in respect it is not in the court, it is tedious. . . . Hast any philosophy in thee, shepherd? 
(Act 3, scene 2, lines 11–22)

In this amusing exchange, representatives of the country and the city go head to head. When Corin, an older shepherd, asks Touchstone, a professional fool, what he thinks about life in the country, he gets a confusing response that he cannot possibly comprehend. Touchstone’s answer is a strangely erudite spoof on philosophical reasoning. He proceeds by evaluating different aspects of “this shepherd’s life” one at a time. But with each aspect, he offers two opposing responses. By refusing to reconcile each opposition, Touchstone effectively mocks the supposedly sophisticated “philosophy” of the city, even as he also makes fun of Corin’s rustic lack of refinement.

Duke Senior: But what said Jaques? 
Did he not moralize this spectacle? 
First Lord: O yes, into a thousand similes. 
First, for his weeping into the needless stream: 
“Poor deer,” quoth he, “thou mak’st a testament 
As worldlings do, giving thy sum of more 
To that which had too much.” . . . 
Anon a careless herd, 
Full of the pasture, jumps along by him 
And never stays to greet him. “Ay,” quoth Jaques, 
“Sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens. 
’Tis just the fashion. Wherefore do you look 
Upon that poor and broken bankrupt there?” 
Thus most invectively he pierceth through 
The body of country, city, court, 
Yea, and of this our life, swearing that we 
Are mere usurpers, tyrants, and what’s worse, 
To fright the animals and to kill them up 
In their assigned and native dwelling place. 
(Act 2, scene 1, lines 45–66)

In act 2, scene 1, an unnamed lord recounts a hunting scene that took place in the forest earlier in the day. After a deer was shot, Jaques wept over it, grieving for the fact that it was forced to “[give] thy sum” to those who already “had too much.” Later, when a group of deer passed by and paid him and the dear deer little mind, Jaques likened their disinterest to the cruel indifference of “fat and greasy citizens” of the city. Afterward he apparently went on to complain more generally about how Duke Senior, freshly exiled after his brother usurped his throne, has himself now become a usurper and tyrant, killing and displacing the native inhabitants of the forest. Jaques’s diatribe against city people demonstrates how he thinks of himself as an outsider. Yet as someone who has himself come to the country from the city, his diatribe also shows a degree of hypocrisy.