Essay, Research Paper: As You Like It


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The main themes of "As You Like It" are the pastoral ideal and the
ideal of romantic love. Forest of Aden is the primary setting where these themes
develop. Nature serves as a refuge from society where we can find solutions to
injustice and unhappiness. This play is a comedy and thus has a happy ending but
it is not a fairy tail. Shakespeare highlights the difference between reality
and illusion. Rosalind embodies the sensibility, the humor and the kind of love
that leads to a happy, harmonious living. She brings the plot to a resolution
when four contrasting romances end in marriage. The focus of the play is her
romance with Orlando. Rosalind wants to find a lover without losing her sense of
self in the process. Rosalind answers the questions about love, which arise
during the play. She is a lovesick maiden and yet she remains an intelligent,
witty, and strong character. Rosalind is also a good judge of character. She
sees through Jaque's seemingly deep thoughts and recognizes the wisdom of clown
Touchstone. Furthermore, she cleverly uses her disguise to get to know Orlando
and educate him about love. The meeting of Orlando and Rosalind is the most
important event in Act 1 of the play; it is love at first sight. Celia and her
cousin talk about falling in love just before the wrestling match. From
henceforth I will, coz, and devise sports. Let me see, what think you of falling
in love? Her words indicate that Rosalind is ready to face the danger of falling
in love. She infers that her father would approve of Orlando because her father
approved of his father Sir Rowland. Their meeting reveals a vulnerable side of
the Rosalind as she gives him a chain, says, "Gentleman, wear this for
me" and waits for him to continue the conversation. In Act Shakespeare
draws parallels between Rosalind's relationship with Celia and Orlando's
relationship with Adam. When Duke Fredrick banishes his niece from the court,
Celia makes a quick decision to go to the Forest of Aden with her cousin and to
look for her uncle. This illustrates the degree if love and loyalty between
them. Orlando's elder brother Oliver denies him education. When Orlando is
leaving for the forest Adam wants to go with him to serve and protect him.
Master, go on, and I will follow thee To the last gasp with truth and loyalty…
Yet fortune cannot recompense me better Than to die well and not my master's
debtor. (2.4. 70-75) Soon after entering the Forest of Arden Rosalind discovers
love poems that Orlando hang on the trees. She loses self-control as she reads
them one after another. When she finds out that Celia has seen Orlando she is
very excited and cannot stop asking her questions, "What did he when you
thou saw'st him? What said he? How looked he…" (3.2. 218-20) For a brief
period of time, she becomes a victim of infatuation like those she scorns. She
is betrayed by something she feels and finds it difficult to admit the truth in
love. Shakespeare thus illustrates that she is not ideal, that she has flaws
like all other human being. Rosalind's clever idea to dress up as Ganymede
enables her to have a double identity, which will give her the opportunity to
test Orlando's love. Her disguise probably prevents their immediate marriage.
"I will speak to him like a saucy lackey and under that habit play the
knave with him." (3.2.292-93) She does not however merely play games,
Rosalind she teaches Orlando how to love her. He must keep his promises and
respect her thereby proving that his love is real. She takes a cynical view of
romantic love to tease Orlando. Rosalind begins to tire of acting after the
momentary drop of her guise when she faints at seeing Orlando's bloody
handkerchief. When Orlando proves himself to Ganymede and saves the life of his
brother Rosalind is ready to make a commitment to him. She does not dispose of
her disguise until then because she realizes that only time will show if they
are really in love. Time refines their passion for one another. Rosalind is a
philosopher Rosalind like Jaque. Her practical love-filled perceptions of the
world contrast with his cynical views. Jaque likes to disagree with everyone
else. Both Orlando and Rosalind challenge his ideas. In the third act Jaque
tried to persuade Orlando that loving Rosalind is not worth his while. Jaque.
"The worst fault you have is to be in love." Orlando. "'Tis a
fault I will not change for your best virtue. I am weary of you." (3.2.
279-82) Rosalind tells Jaque that he is sad and melancholy because he chooses to
stay detached from the real life she says: "Fear you have sold your own
lands to see other men's… I had rather fool to make me merry than experience
to make me sad." Thus Jaque loses in this brief exchange. Touchstone is the
fool whom Rosalind would prefer to Jaque. She understands his wisdom: "You
speak'st wiser than thou art ware of." Touchstone tells her a story about
being in love with a girl. He gave the girl something and said "wear these
for my sake", which are almost the same words that Rosalind said to Orlando
in the beginning of the play. The love between Orlando and Rosalind is portrayed
as superior to other romances, which are more earthy. Touchstone and Audrey's
romance represents physical passion. He wants to marry her out of church so that
the marriage would be invalid. Silvius who is hopelessly in love with Pheobe,
represents pastoral love The diversity of characters' romantic sentiment creates
a balance in the play and makes one appreciate their silliness, spirituality and
extremities. Compared to Silvius' silly infatuation, Orlando's is more of a
courtly lovesickness. Rosalind outshines everyone else in the play with her
intelligence, wit and depth of feeling. Her humanity and sense of fun make her
the ideal romantic heroine. She seems to be centuries ahead of her time. She is
a woman who is absolutely the master of her own destiny and she remains in
control most of the time. Shakespeare has created an almost ideal heroine who
brings the play to its conclusion.
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