The Character of Rosalind in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It
The title of William Shakespeare’s romantic comedy As You Like It, is indicative of the maladjusted perceptions of the characters in the play. Each character in one way or another holds true to off-base viewpoints regarding relationships concerned with love that stir up conflict and strife amongst the characters. This disharmony that plagues the play is only ultimately resolved through the initiative of the character Rosalind. Rosalind is the only balanced character in the play in regards to the fact that she isn’t blinded by the emotions of lust and hate which are the main operatives in obscuring the other characters’ perceptions. Rosalind’s actions, coupled with the imposed predicament of her banishment, directly and indirectly bring about the balancing of the other characters previously jostled perceptions.
The main concern and ordeal that Rosalind deals with in the play is her genuine love for Orlando and her consequential fear that he is just a love-diseased youth who is in a state of mere infatuation with her. In their first encounter, Orlando is unable to even speak to Rosalind due to his acute feelings of desire and awkwardness: "What passion hangs these weights upon my tongue? I cannot speak to her, yet she urged conference. O poor Orlando, though art overthrown"(I.II.249-251). Rosalind is likewise enamored with Orlando but is cautious due to the fact that she barely knows him. This sentiment is illuminated by her cousin Celia: "Is it possible, on such a sudden, you should fall into so strong a liking with old Sir Rowland’s youngest son"(I.III.26-28). It is here where Rosalind’s main predicament of the play is born. She is even-keeled enough to prevent herself from suddenly jumping into a relationship with Orlando because they know nothing about each other and she is unsure if he is mature enough to handle such a responsibility, but she nonetheless cannot discount the fact that she truly desires Orlando and possibly already loves him.
Rosalind’s banishment into the forest by Duke Frederick forces her to take on the guise of a male, which to pardon the obvious insipid pun, is a true blessing in disguise. Under this deception she is able to freely interact with Orlando on a purely platonic level and delve into his innermost feelings for her. Even though Rosalind is flattered by the fiery poetry inscribed on the trees of the forest she is nevertheless put off by the unbounded passion that encompasses it: "Ay, but the feet were lame and could not bear themselves without the verse and therefore stood lamely in the verse…I was never so berhymed since Pythagoras’ time, that I was an Irish rat, which I can hardly remember"(III.II.166-168, 173-175). It is not until she is made aware that the poetry is of Orlando and he too is in the forest, does she devise the plan of using her dual role of Ganymede to her advantage. Through her encounters with Orlando under this...