The Issue Of Gender In "As You Like It"

1568 words - 6 pages


One of the most intriguing aspects of As You Like It by William Shakespeare concerns the issue of gender. This issue generates a lot of interest and discussions due to its complexity. The main reason for such a concern in the play is the cross-dressing and role-playing. The central love interest between Rosalind and Orlando calls into question the conservative wisdom about men and women and their gender roles. It also challenges our presumptions about these roles in courtship, love, and relationships.
At the center of this courtship is a very complex ambiguity, which is difficult to fully appreciate without a production with which to compare. Here, we have a man, playing a woman, who has dressed herself up as a man who is pretending to be a woman, who is then courting Orlando. It’s quite a complex list of roles. In modern times, even if a young male actor were to not play the role of Rosalind, the theatrical irony remains far beyond the complexity of most plays. This theatrical irony is particularly relevant in Act Four, Scene One. In this scene, Orlando and Rosalind/Ganymede are on stage together. Rosalind, dressed as Ganymede, meets with Jaques for the first time. He explains that he prefers to be glum and somber because he has seen the world, and that his contemplations on what he has seen and experienced make him sad. Rosalind tells him that she prefers a fool, who keeps her happy to experience, which makes her sad. Orlando arrives and Rosalind says goodbye to Jaques. Orlando then approaches her and calls her Rosalind. She reprimands him for being an hour late and then accuses him of not truly being in love. Rosalind finally tells Orlando that she is in the right state of mind and is in good enough humor to woo her. He tells her he would rather kiss her than converse with her, but she asks Orlando what he would do if she happened to refuse. He claims he would die of love and overwhelming emotion. Rosalind laughs at his innocence and tells him that it is practically impossible to die for love-related reasons.
Orlando finally asks her if she will love him. Rosalind says she will, and then asks her sister Celia, who is still in disguise, to pretend to marry the two of them. Orlando takes her hand and they perform a simulated wedding ceremony. Rosalind then asks him how long he foresees their relationship lasting. Orlando claims “forever and a day” (Shakespeare, 4.1.123). Rosalind replies, “men are April when they woo, December when they wed” (Shakespeare, 4.1.124-125). She then gives Orlando a speech about the way that women truly act once they are married and committed to one man for the rest of their lives. Juliet Dusinberre demonstrates that Rosalind’s authority in the play grows from new ideas about women and reveals that Shakespeare's heroine reinvents herself within As You Like It (Dusinberre).
Louis Montrose interestingly describes Orlando as “naively romantic” in this scene in his article “The Place of a Brother” in As You Like It:...

Find Another Essay On The Issue of Gender in "As You Like It"

What challenges does As You Like It present to out conceptions of gender identity?

1365 words - 5 pages Present day conceptions of gender would appear to be different to what they were in Shakespeare's day. Clear cut divisions of male, female and neuter are apparent. One would need to look back to the time of Shakespeare to try and see the different view of gender identity. Using the play As You Like It and the characters portrayed within it one might be able to see how our concept of gender may well be challenged. Gender role in this play does

Language of Love in Shakespeare's As You Like It

1816 words - 7 pages : University of Kentucky Press, 1995. Odell, George C. D. Shakespeare from Betterton to Irving. Vol. 2 New York: Dover Publications, 1966. Russell, Anne E. "History and Real Life: Anna Jameson, Shakespeare's Heroines and Victorian Women." Victorian Review: The Journal of the Victorian Studies Association of Western Canada. 17.2 (Winter 1991): 35-49. Shakespeare, William. As You Like It. in The Riverside Shakespeare. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin company, 1974. Terry, Ellen. Four Lectures on Shakespeare. New York: Benjamin Bloom, Inc., 1969.    

Revelations of Rosalind's Character in As You Like It

545 words - 2 pages As You Like It is a comedic play written by William Shakespeare. Act 3; scene 3 is a long scene in which Rosalind’s character is revealed in many ways. Shakespeare uses indirect methods of characterization to reveal Rosalind’s personality. Shakespeare shows Rosalind is unaware, love-struck, and crafty by using the indirect methods of a character revealing themselves through their words, private thoughts, and actions. Rosalind is oblivious

Aging In the Reanissance and As You Like It

1836 words - 7 pages Aging In the Reanissance and As You Like It       Life starts upon the exit from the mother's womb. From that moment, time marches on until the inevitable death occurs to take one once again from the world of the living. Life and death fascinated various playwrights and authors of the Renaissance. Shakespeare made his interest in aging known in many of his plays and sonnets. He approaches this continuing theme from many angles. In many of

"What does 'As You Like It' suggest about romantic love and marriage?" - An essay discussing the presentation of love and lovers in Shakespeare's 'As You Like It'

1034 words - 4 pages The majority of characters in As You Like It end up as lovers, and the play ends with a quadruple wedding. On the path to this quadruple wedding, there are many dialogues between lovers, in which we are exposed to different opinions about what romantic love is, and what marriage means.As You Like It suggests that love occurs instantly, or it is not love; that love has no boundaries; that lovers are utterly obsessed with their love, to the point

Shakespeare's Use of the Idea of Disguise in "As You Like It"

1282 words - 5 pages Shakespeare uses the idea of disguise in many of his plays. It is used as an escape from the characters’ personalities and sometimes for comic effect. In As You Like it, the disguise becomes very comical as in the time it was written only men could act on stage. This could lead to much confusion and comedy in the roles of those in disguise. Disguise can give the freedom to a character to act how they like and a chance for them to show their

The Role of the Forest in Midsummer Night's Dream and As You Like It

1396 words - 6 pages William Shakespeare often compares imagination and reality in his plays. He explores this comparison through the role and purpose of the forests in Midsummer Night's Dream and As You Like It. Midsummer Night's Dream focuses on imagination and escape, while As You like It focuses on reality and self discovery. Imagination plays a key role in Midsummer Night's Dream. Puck, a fairy servant and friend of Oberon watches six Athenian men

Shakespeare's As You Like It - Importance of the Secondary Characters

1556 words - 6 pages As You Like It:  The Importance of the Secondary Characters       As You Like It, by William Shakespeare, is a radiant blend of fantasy, romance, wit and humor. In this delightful romp, Rosalind stands out as the most robust, multidimensional and lovable character, so much so that she tends to overshadow the other characters in an audience's memory, making them seem, by comparison, just "stock dramatic types". Yet, As You Like It is not

Shakespeare's As You Like It - The Many Flavors of Love

1489 words - 6 pages As You Like It:   The Many Flavors of Love         As You Like It is remarkable among Shakespeare's plays for ending with four marriages, something of a record even among comedies. Love is a central theme of the play, although in some of its variations it cannot quite be said to be romantic! The love relationships may, at first glance, appear to be stock types: Rosalind and Orlando representing romantic hero-heroine love, Silvius and

As You Like It

875 words - 4 pages In William Shakespeare’s, ‘As You Like It,’ the tension between appearance versus reality is the result of the deceptive nature of the circumstances the characters of the play find themselves in. When Rosalind dresses as a male figure, she disguises her true identity and challenges the conventions of the preconceived ideas of gender roles. Thus, in several aspects, the subversion of the role she adopted through disguise eventually becomes more

As You Like It

905 words - 4 pages good qualities reflect badly on himPassive verbs "keeps me" "lets me" and "bars me" highlight Orlando's powerlessnessOliver has rejected social convention in his usurping of the chain and the social obligations it representsOrlando is debased emphasized by animal imageryOne's environment is capable of either inhibiting or nurturing an individual's sense of belonging. In As You Like It, Shakespeare establishes a stark dichotomy between the "painted

Similar Essays

Gender And Politics In Shakespeare's As You Like It

1842 words - 7 pages Gender and Politics in As You Like It        William Shakespeare and the new millennium seem to be diametrically opposed, yet his works are having a renaissance of their own after 400 years in the public domain. Why have some major film producers revisited his works when their language and staging would seem to be hopelessly outdated in our society?Perhaps because unlike modern writers, who struggle with political correctness, Shakespeare

Gender And Social Norms In Shakespeare's As You Like It

1706 words - 7 pages Gender and Social Norms in As You Like It        Shakespeare based his comedy As You Like It primarily on three other works.  Its plot follows the basic structure of Rosalynde, published in 1590 by Thomas Lodge.  The Tale of Gamelyn, written by an unknown author in the mid-fourteenth century, is a violent Middle English narrative that was found among Chaucer's papers and provides further details for Shakespeare's work.  With the Forest of

Gender And Coming Of Age In Shakespeare’s As You Like It

1841 words - 7 pages Gender and Coming of Age in Shakespeare’s As You Like It Shakespeare introduces the protagonists of his comedy, As You Like It, as youths mourning the absence of their fathers: Orlando remarks on the consequences of his father’s death and Rosalind first appears despairing over her father’s exile. He closes the play with the marriage of these youths. The absence of their respective fathers centrally figures into their courtship and

How Does William Shakespeare Use Gender Confusion And The Art Of Disguise In ‘As You Like It’ And ‘Twelfth Night Or What You Will’?

1813 words - 7 pages Many of Shakespeare’s plays involve some form of disguise as a plot device and in my opinion the two which use this to the greatest effect are ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘As You Like It’. In addition, of all of Shakespeare’s works these two plays are two of most significant with regards to relying on gender confusion for comic effect. In this essay I will explore both the similarities and differences that can be found within these plays and the