When Oliver avers that he has no idea of Orlando’s whereabouts, Duke Frederick gives Oliver twelve months to find Orlando. Failing that, Oliver will be banished and his land and properties confiscated. Oliver avows that he had never loved his brother--to no avail. Indeed, the confession only lowers Oliver’s worth in the Duke’s eyes.
In love, despite being in exile, Orlando writes verse praising Rosalind and attaches them to every tree that he comes across in the Forest of Arden.
When Corin asks Touchstone how the shepherd’s life suits him (Ganymede and Aliena have purchased Corin’s master’s sheep farm), Touchstone compares it unfavorably to a life in court to the extent he argues that Corin’s life is unholy as it lacks culture and breeding. Corin argues, however, that what might be ideal for a court would be ridiculous in a sheep cote and vice-versa. They are thus debating when Ganymede (Rosalind) appears, reading a number of pages of verse each of which dotes on Rosalind. Touchstone mocks her for taking any of it seriously only to be chided to bite his tongue.
By and by, Celia (Aliena) appears, reading yet another verse in praise of Rosalind. Rosalind engages Celia. Rosalind is ostensibly contemptuous of the poems but eager to know who the versifier is. Celia gives a hint, making Rosalind blush. Eventually, Celia divulges the versifier’s identity but not before teasing Rosalind to a state of utter anticipatory excitement. Anon, the versifier himself is espied, and Rosalind decides to engage him while pretending to be an insolent servant which her disguise denoting her as Ganymede will lend credibility.
Meanwhile, Orlando and Jaques are having a difference of opinion with regards the nature of love and life in general. They part, one arguing that the other is too cynical and the other arguing the one is too optimistic. By and by, Ganymede engages the one, making an elaborate argument about the nature of time which impresses Orlando. Orlando is impressed even more when Ganymede rebuts Orlando’s claim that he is in love. Orlando insists that he is in love, however, prompting Ganymede to invite Orlando to his sheep farm where he promises that he will cure Orlando of his sickness (for love is a sickness and a madness, or so Ganymede argues).
Impressed by Touchstone’s wit that commends more by avoiding insults than flattering with complements, Jaques follows on the heels of Touchstone and Audrey, a goat herd, who are on their way to get married. By and by, Sir Oliver Martext, a vicar of a county parish, who has been assigned with the duty of marrying the couple appears on the scene. He refuses to perform the ceremony, however, citing the absence of a father-figure who is to give the bride away. Jaques steps up at this point to fulfill the father-figure role only to dissuade Touchstone from going ahead with the ceremony, arguing that getting married under a tree and being married by a questionable figure like Sir Oliver Martext aren’t optimal if a long, happy marriage is sought. Thus persuaded, Touchstone dismisses Sir Oliver Martext, and he and Audrey follow Jaques who will presumably counsel them.
When Rosalind laments the fact that Orlando has failed to keep his promise and visit, Celia argues that men’s vows of love are variable and can’t ever be taken for gospel. Regardless, Rosalind praises Orlando’s manly qualities to the extent that she has decided to preserve her disguise, despite having met her father, the old Duke, so that she might continue engaging Orlando up close and without inhibitions that being Ganymede affords her. Anon, Corin, the old shepherd, who is now employed in Aliana’s (Celia’s) service, appears. As Aliana has often wondered what had become of Silvius and his love, Corin has come to invite Aliana to be a witness to Silvius and Phebe who are currently involved in a lover ‘s dispute. Rosalind joins them, arguing that the best remedy for people who are afflicted by love is to observe others who are afflicted by love.
Silvius declares his love for Phebe--to no avail. Phoebe promises, however, to acknowledge Silvius’ suffering if she should ever fall in love in vain. At this juncture, Ganymede (Rosalind) steps in to chide Phebe. Ganymede chides Phebe for rating herself too highly. He argues that Phebe isn’t really deserving of a man as good as Silvius, and that Phebe ought to reciprocate Silvius’ love while she has the chance. When Ganymede leaves, Phebe resolves to write a letter reproofing Ganymede. Or so she tells Silvius whom she applies for help with regards the delivering of the letter, which letter will actually be a declaration of love. (Phebe has fallen in love with Rosalind, thinking that she is indeed Ganymede.)