2 Jaques

The Two Jakes... NOT what we're talking about here...
The Two Jakes… NOT what we’re talking about here…

So, As You Like It… two characters named Jaques.


And, by the way, not pronounced like “Jack” or “Jacques”… no, pronounced two syllables, as either “JAY-kweez” or “JACK-wis” (has to be two syllables for the scansion to work right).

We’ve got the “main” Jaques, the follower of the banished and usurped Duke Senior, the lord who would be fool. The deliverer of the famed “All the world’s a stage…” speech in Act Two, Scene Seven.

And then we have Jaques de Boys, the middle son of Sir Rowland de Boys, who arrives without announcement in the last scene to first deliver some plot, and then to watch his brothers marry.

One a character with vitality, the other just delivering vital news.

But why the same name? And why this name?

Jaques is a variation of the French Jacques (which is related to the English James), which means “supplanter” or one who is lesser but replaces one who is greater. There is also the possibility that Jaques is derived from the Hebrew Jacob, or “may God protect.” Of course, those seem to be contradictory… had God protected the greater one, he would have never been supplanted.

I could see Frederick being named Jaques (or better, Jacques). But Duke Senior’s accompanying melancholic? Or Orlando’s older (but not oldest) brother? I don’t see the connection.

One of the major changes Shakespeare makes from the source material comes in the removal of a climactic conflict between the two dukes, with the usurper dying. Here, thought, we don’t even seen Frederick in the second half of the play (his last appearance on stage is in Act Three, Scene One). We only hear from Jaques de Boys of Frederick’s planned battle with Duke Senior and his later conversion.

It’s almost a deus ex machina.

Jaques de Boys. The god in the machine, bringing about a (somewhat contrived) happy ending. Jaques, the god protecting the “good” characters of the play, and not even punishing the “bad,” but rather allowing them to convert to good (both Frederick and Oliver, too).

With the arrival of this Jaques, the other departs.

It’s almost as if “happy ending” Jaques has supplanted the melancholy one.

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