1 Goltilkis

Rosalind As You Like It Essays


1. Introduction

2. Rosalind’s Character
2.1. Rosalind described by other characters
2.2. Rosalind as she describes herself
2.3. Explicit description by Rosalind

3. Conclusion

4. Bibliography

1. Introduction

“As You Like It” is the only play of Shakespeare that I have actually seen on stage in a little theatre in Saxony. I was quite fascinated by this modern staging and therefore I decided that this play would be it for me.

I really fell for Rosalind when I watched the play and so I will dedicate my research paper to her. To my mind, Rosalind is a very complex character and she is represented very human-like, with deep insights into her soul, feelings and thoughts. She is a very sympathetic heroine which makes it easy to feel for and also with her.

In the following chapter I will try to analyse her in three different ways. First I will have a closer look at the other characters trying to find out how they characterise Rosalind in their speeches and what they think of her. It will be interesting to see, in what way their opinions differ from each other or of course in what way they are similar.

The second part will deal with Rosalind herself. As she is the main character, she does have to say quite a lot of things, be that wise, comical or emotional speeches. I will try to pick the most important ones and see what they reveal about Rosalind’s inner feelings and her character of course.

The third and last part is about Rosalind’s non-verbal behaviour. I will try to find out something about her attitude towards other people and of course what all her actions tell us about herself. I will also try to find out some forboding things and the reasons for her doing.

In my conclusion I will combine all my findings and sum them up so that there will be a (hopefully) complete picture of Rosalind’s character at the end.

2. Rosalind’s Character

2.1. Rosalind In The Words Of Others

The first thing we learn about Rosalind, is something which is hidden in the words of Celia: “I praythee, Rosalind, sweet my coz, be merry.” (I, ii, 1). This introductory sentence let us know, that they both are related to each other, that they are in fact cousins, and that Rosalind is sad for some reasons, which are specified later in the text. It also tells us, that they both must have a close and sisterly relationship as Celia addresses Rosalind very kindly and gentle. This supposition is confirmed in the dialogue between the two cousins that follows that quotation and also in all the other scenes and acts, where the two of them appear, e.g. in I, iii, 68ff (Celia to her father, the new Duke):

If she be a traitor,

Why so am I: we still have slept together,

Rose at an instant, learn’d, play’d, eat together;

And wheresoe’er we went, like Juno’s swans,

Still we went coupled and inseparable.

Later on in the same scene Celia tells her dad, that she “cannot live out of her [Rosalind’s] company” (I, iii, 82) and she says to Rosalind: “Know’st thou not the Duke Hath banishe’d me, his daughter?” (I, iii, 90f). That also shows, that they are truly inseparable and that Celia thinks very highly of Rosalind. This attitude really seems to infect the audience/reader immediately and Rosalind becomes a very special heroine right from the start.

Duke Frederick, who only plays a minor part in the play, and who is rather an evil character also concedes that Rosalind is a very noble young lady, when he tells his daughter Celia (I, iii, 73ff):

She is too subtle for thee; and her smoothness,

Her very silence and her patience,

Speak to the people, and they pity her.

Thou art a fool. She robs thee of thy name;

And thou wilt show more bright and seem more virtuous

When she is gone. [...]

Although earlier Le Beau has said similar things about Rosalind to Orlando, this little speech reveals much about her character, as we do learn, that she is popular among the people, virtuous and intelligent, kind and gentle and so on. It is supposed to work against Rosalind but it actually does the contrary: Celia still cannot part from Rosalind and we (the audience/reader) feel even more with her.

A key figure in the question of Rosalind’s character is of course Orlando. It only takes him a few moments to fall in love with Rosalind. He praises her throughout the play and from the very beginning he addresses her as “fair princess” (I, ii, 152), an adjective that expresses a vast number of very positive character-traits as well as a positive outer appearance. His physical reactions to the presence of the young lady compensates the impression, that he immediately fell for her; he is unable to say anything to Rosalind (I, ii, 236ff):

What passion hangs these weights

upon my tongue?

I cannot speak to her, yet she urg’d conference.

O poor Orlando, thou art overthrown!

This love on first sight also shows, that Rosalind must be a very beautiful, charming young girl. Otherwise Orlando could not have fallen in love with her, because it takes much longer to explore the inner values of a person than just a few moments, which makes me believe, that he fell for her appearance.

Orlando’s poems in III, ii even strengthen the good impression of the play’s heroine. Rosalind is compared with jewels (“From the east to western Inde, no jewel is like Rosalinde.” III,ii, 78f) and also with famous women in history(III, ii, 132ff):

[...] Nature presently distill’d

Helen’s cheek, but not her heart,

Cleopatra’s majesty,

Atlanta’s better part,

Sad Lucretia’s modesty.

Thus Rosalinde of many parts

By heavenly synod was devis’d,

Of many faces, eyes and hearts,

To have the touches dearest priz’d.

Heaven would that she these gifts should have,

And I to live and die her slave.

This makes her look an incredible lady and it does of course show how deeply Orlando is in love with her, even though his poems are not the best.

Orlando is actually not the only one, who is touched by Rosalind. Phebe also falls in love with her, but at a time when Rosalind is disguised as Ganymede. It is kind of curious to see this happen, as Phebe is in fact humiliated by the “sheperd”. She does not care though, on the contrary, she seems to like this degradation and prefers it to Silvius’ love declarations (III, v, 64f):

Sweet youth, I pray you chide a year together;

I had rather hear you chide than this man woo.

Now it becomes clear, that Rosalind’s charme does not fade while she is disguised but seems to be there in the same concentration than when she is herself. She is also praised as a boy and that makes her even more irresistable.

I think the only bad thing that is said about Rosalind in the entire play is a little comment made by Jaques, when he says: “Rosalind is your love’s name? [...] I do not like her name.” (III, ii, 248 & 250) This objection though does not aim at the character of Rosalind, just at her name and that is something for that she is not responsible. It is in fact something, that she cannot change (even though she calls herself Ganymede, does not mean that she could change her name in reality).


Shakespeare's As You Like It - Rosalind and Celia Essay

3116 Words13 Pages

As You Like It - Rosalind and Celia

A search for feminist criticism on William Shakespeare's comedy, As You Like It, uncovers a range of different aspects of the play and its players, but none is as well represented as the nature and dynamics of the relationship between Rosalind and Celia. Among other topics are cross dressing or female transvestism and male self-fashioning, which extrapolates on the mode of dress being an identity. A feminist view on Shakespeare examines the poet's defense of virtue in the play. Quite a few articles focus on Rosalind alone. These varyingly discuss Rosalind in relation to gender issues, romantic power, eroticism, specific performances of actresses portraying Rosalind as well as one piece…show more content…

Further, she reminds us that Celia is the only character capable of matching Rosalind's "repartee"(97).

As Calvo advises us, according to two female critics as well as actresses who have played the two women's roles: "There is a balance in the roles of Celia and Rosalind. Both are central to the fabric . . . but each is central to well defined and very different parts of the play"(99).

Calvo cites the feminist critics as having similar opinions. Elaine Hobby sees Rosalind's most important re4lationship as being with her cousin Celia (99). Celia defends Rosalind to her father and decides on the pastoral escape. However, once Rosalind changes to manly garb, Celia assumes the weaker role stating, "I cannot go no further"(II.4.7).

Another feminist critic, Susan Carlson, also sees that "the most steady love of the play is that between two women, Rosalind and Celia"(100). She notes the contrast between the "love, trust and warmth of their woman's world and the harsh world depicted in I.1 (100). Carlson also sees the third scene in Act I as the "climax of the play's celebration of woman's love"(101). She states the significance that the "voice of achievement is Celia, not Rosalind"(100).

But Carlson differs with Hobby and other feminists as to when the turning point in the women's relationship comes. She feels

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