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Analysis of Shakespeare's "As You Like It"

Seminararbeit 2005 7 Seiten

Anglistik - Literatur



1 Introduction

2 Teaching a Lesson
2.1 The Role of Rosalind and her Cross-Dressing
2.2 The Effect of Rosalind`s Disguise

3 Final Conclusion

4 Works Cited

1 Introduction

The first scene of act IV shows us mainly Rosalind who wants to teach Orlando a lesson in love by trying to give him a more realistic view on this topic which is not that easy for her as she is truly in love with Orlando.

This scene can be divided into three main parts and four subparts.

The scene starts of with a conversation between Rosalind, disguised as ´Ganymede`, and Jaques who is trying to explain his melancholy. Rosalind is asking some interesting questions and makes a fool out of Jaques in the end. The next part starts off with Orlando entering the scene and Jaques leaving. It can be divided into four subparts as Rosalind refuses Orlando at first before she teaches him a lesson in love. Afterwards they are having a mock-wedding before Orlando leaves Rosalind again to dine with Duke Senior. The third and last part consists of a conversation between Rosalind and Celia. The most important and interesting part in this scene is the conversation between Rosalind and Orlando. Orlando arrives for his lesson in love but he is too late and starts of by asking Rosalind to forgive his tardiness. She immediately refuses him by suggesting that his love is worse than a snails, “for though [a snail] comes slowly, he carries his house on his head” (IV.i.84.14-15). Orlando seems to be a bit confused and wants to kiss Rosalind before speaking. She refuses him again by telling that he should save the kiss until the conversation lacks. Because of being refused again and again Orlando claims that he will die. Rosalind`s response is quite clear. She disproves Orlando`s statement by telling him that, despite the poet`s romantic imagination, no man in the entire history of the world has died from a love-related cause (IV.i.85.17-20). Rosalind continues by accepting and returning Orlando`s declarations of love and urges Celia to play a priest and marry them. Afterwards Orlando has to leave as he is invited to dine with Duke Senior, but promises to be back within two hours. Rosalind warns him not to be a minute late and tells Celia that only cupid can fathom the depth of her affection (IV.i.88.20-22).

2 Teaching a Lesson

When she is disguised as ´Ganymede` Rosalind takes her chance to talk to Orlando and teach him a lesson in love. The question that is evoked by reading this act is if Rosalind only teaches Orlando a lesson or the reader as well and whether she will be successful or not.

2.1 The Role of Rosalind and her Cross-Dressing

When Rosalind talks to Jaques, she chastises him for his oppressively melancholy remblings by saying “those that are in extremity of either, are abominable fellows, and betray themselves to every modern censure, worse than drunkards” (IV.i.83.2-3). She would rather be merry than gaining experience that makes her sad (IV.i.83.22-24). Her words do not only criticise Jaques` behaviour. Furthermore they serve as a general criticism of the extremes the characters go to in the play. You can see that by having a closer look at Jaques, Touchstone and especially Rosalind herself. Rosalind plays a nearly perfect role, disguised as Ganymede and trying to pretend to be a male. Rosalind and Orlando have very different opinions when it comes to love. While Orlando seems to be a dreamer, Rosalind sees everything in a more realistic way and tries to convince him to see things her way and be furnished with a more realistic understanding of love. It is like a tutorship in order to instruct the man she loves in how to be a more accomplished lover. She would not have been able to teach Orlando a lesson like that as a woman. She is scared that their relationship might not last in the real world. Rosalind tries to show her beloved Orlando that there neither is something like a perfect and heroic love nor an ideal and ideally worthy woman. This shows us that women can bring things down to earth (cf. Meredith, Cooper ed. 1918: 119). So she wants to teach Orlando that it is always complicated when it comes to love and that he has to put more effort in this relationship to make it last in the real world because they will have to go back there sooner or later and leave their pastoral, paradise-like world behind. She just wants to be prepared for the real world where things are not as easy as in the Forest of Arden and tries to ensure that their relationship will thrive in a world less enchanted than the pastoral world.

The wooing game ´Ganymede` is playing seems to be like a wrestling match and can be compared to the wrestling match at the beginning of the play (I.ii.34.15). The only difference is that Orlando, who has overthrown Charles first, is now outplayed by Rosalind. He can not win because he is ignorant of her disguise. Rosalind truly exploits the advantage of her disguise to take the initiative to woo and floor Orlando in the lists of love. She makes a complete fool out of Orlando and hides behind her disguise. Orlando who truly believes that he is talking to ´Ganymede` has no chance and can not answer Rosalind`s questions. He is a bit helpless and all the attempts to be nice and trying to tell her what she wants to hear do not work. Rosalind is testing his love in a playful and funny way by playing around with the sexes. Orlando is really handsome and Rosalind fell in love with him by first sight. He seems to be so affectionate when he talks to Rosalind what does not influence Rosalind`s thoughts and her opinion.



ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
346 KB
Institution / Hochschule
Universität Kassel
Shakespeare As you like it Literature



Titel: Analysis of Shakespeare's "As You Like It"