Duke Senior, the banished Duke, speaks highly of the life spent in nature, arguing that there’s nothing about it that flatters and gives one a false impression of one’s true worth which are sadly commonplace to a life spent in a civilized court. He regrets though that people must inflict pain on nature when venison is sought which prompts one of the lords attending on him to mention Jaques. According to this lord, Jaques has been observed lamenting a deer which had been struck with an arrow, and cursing man for encroaching upon the deer’s domain which encroachment Jaques has been heard to argue is as ignoble as a usurper supplanting a ruler’s rightful place. Intrigued, Duke Senior decides to have a talk with Jaques who is especially intellectually stimulating when he is in such a misanthropic mood.
Distressed at his daughter‘s missing status, Duke Frederick supposes that some of his own people must have a hand in allowing her to run away. When one of his lords in attendance supposes that Orlando might be in her company (as the cousins have been heard speaking highly of Orlando), the Duke orders for someone to go fetch Orlando, and in the event that he’s nowhere to be found to get his brother Oliver who will be commissioned to find Orlando.
Upon meeting Orlando, Adam strongly urges Orlando to flee, to avoid returning to his brother’s house at all costs, arguing that Oliver, who having heard of Orlando’s triumph in the wrestling match, has vowed to kill Orlando by whatever means necessary. When Orlando doubts that he could live on the run like a beggar, much less like a criminal, that he would rather subject himself to his brother’s hostility, Adam proposes that they flee together and live off Adam’s savings and that he--Adam--though old will do yeoman’s work in serving Orlando. Commending the old man for his true and diligent spirit, which is seldom seen now, Orlando agrees to the plan.
Despite being hungry, tired, and dispirited, Rosalind (now Ganymede) resolves to be seemingly undaunted and full of spirit as befitting her disguise and for Celia’s sake. Even Touchstone, the fool, is dispirited, however, and they are thus languishing when they realize that they have arrived at the Forest of Arden. By and by, they come across two shepherds who are indigenous to the area, one old the other young, who are discussing about the nature of love. Apparently the younger one is in love with a girl named Phebe and is consequently too distracted to get any work done. Presently, Ganymede addresses the older one, who is named Corin, and asks him if he could provide some food and shelter in exchange for gold. Corin replies that he’s in no position to provide either as he is only a servant. He mentions, however, that Ganymede may be able to buy his master’s assets which are on sale which assets if bought should provide Ganymede and Aliena with all the food and shelter that they might need.
While setting the table, Amiens indulges Jaques with a song. Amiens indulges Jaques because he wants Jaques to stay put as the Duke has been looking for Jaques all day. As Jaques falls asleep under a tree, Amiens finishes setting the table under that same tree which is where the Duke will have his meal today.
Having arrived at what is presumably the Forest of Arden, Adam collapses out of sheer exhaustion and begs Orlando to leave him and to let him die. Orlando exhorts Adam to hold out a little longer, promising Adam that if the forest has any living creature in it that he--Orlando--will either die confronting the living creature or render the living creature food for Adam’s benefit. Removing Adam to an area less exposed, Orlando goes in search of food.
Duke Senior orders one of his lords to go find Jaques when Jaques appears of his own accord. Jaques has been consorting with a fool (Touchstone), and presently, praising the fool’s cynicism, Jaques proclaims that he has no other ambition in life but to be a fool himself so that he might make harping on man’s folly his life’s occupation. Duke Senior censures Jaques, arguing that there is little merit in finding fault in other people when the fault-finder himself has remorselessly committed those very faults. They are thus arguing when Orlando appears with his sword drawn. He threatens anyone with death should he try to oppose Orlando’s purpose. Duke Senior argues that Orlando’s purpose will be better served with a show of a civility and gentleness. Orlando sheathes his sword and apologizes, attributing his show of violence to his belief that violence and only violence would prevail in a place as wild and lawless as this. When Duke Senior welcomes Orlando to the banquet, Orlando excuses himself so that he might go and fetch Adam, the old man. By and by, Orlando returns with Adam and they are both welcomed to the feast. During the course of the meal, Duke Senior is apprised of Orlando’s identity and parentage, and as Sir Rowland was a dear friend of the Duke, Orlando’s presence is all the more welcomed.