Analysis of the Character of Rosalind, the heroine of William Shakespeare's As You Like It

 In his tragedies William Shakespeare excels in the characterization of tragic heroes, in the comedies his artistic excellence is well marked in the portrayal of woman characters. ‘’They are the sunlight of the plays obscured at times by clouds and storms of melancholy and misdoing, but never subdued or defeated.” the world of Shakespearean comedy is world made safe for women. In Rosalind, the heroin of As You Like It, there is true womanliness with heroic courage and feminine charm, with strength, brilliance, unselfishness and high spirit. She is ideal of what we will wish the woman of our heart to be. She has been romantically drawn with great artistic skill. 

Helen Mirren 
Acting as Rosalind
Rosalind dominates As You Like It which strikes a perfect balance between the worlds of the city and the country, verbal wit and physical comedy, and realism and fantasy. So fully realized is she in the complexity of her emotions, the subtlety of her thought, and the fullness of her character that no one else in the play matches up to her. Orlando is handsome, strong, and an affectionate, if unskilled, poet, yet still we feel that Rosalind settles for someone slightly less magnificent when she chooses him as her mate. Similarly, the observations of Touchstone and Jaques, who might shine more brightly in another play, seem rather dull whenever Rosalind takes the stage.

The endless appeal of watching Rosalind has much to do with her success as a knowledgeable and charming critic of herself and others. But unlike Jaques, who refuses to participate wholly in life but has much to say about the foolishness of those who surround him, Rosalind gives herself over fully to circumstance. She chastises Silvius for his irrational devotion to Phoebe, and she challenges Orlando’s thoughtless equation of Rosalind with a Platonic ideal, but still she comes undone by her lover’s inconsequential tardiness and faints at the sight of his blood. That Rosalind can play both sides of any field makes her identifiable to nearly everyone, and so, irresistible Rosalind is a particular favorite among feminist critics, who admire her ability to subvert the limitations that society imposes on her as a woman. With boldness and imagination, she disguises herself as a young man for the majority of the play in order to woo the man she loves and instruct him in how to be a more accomplished, attentive lover—a tutorship that would not be welcome from a woman. There is endless comic appeal in Rosalind’s lampooning of the conventions of both male and female behavior, but an Elizabethan audience might have felt a certain amount of anxiety regarding her behavior. After all, the structure of a male-dominated society depends upon both men and women acting in their assigned roles.

Rosalind is full of witticism which can cover wide range of topics: Here is few learned ones:

ROSALIND Sir, you have wrestled well, and overthrown
More than your enemies.
As You Like It, Act 1, Scene 2

ROSALIND Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love.
As You Like It, Act 4, Scene 1

ROSALIND Do you not know I am a woman? When I think, I must speak.
As You Like It, Act 3, Scene 2

ROSALIND O, how full of briers is this working-day world!
As You Like It, Act 1, Scene 3

ROSALIND Men are April when they woo,
December when they wed; maids are May when they are maids, but the sky changes when they are wives.
As You Like It, Act 4, Scene 1

ROSALIND If it be true that 'good wine needs no bush,' 'tis true that a good play needs no epilogue.
As You Like It, Act 5, Scene 4, Epilogue

ROSALIND Thou speakest wiser than thou art ware of.
As You Like It, Act 2, Scene 4

 Thus, it is fair to say, Rosalind dispenses with the charade of her own character. Her emergence as an actor in the Epilogue assures that theatergoers, like the Ardenne foresters, are about to exit a somewhat enchanted realm and return to the familiar world they left behind. But because they leave having learned the same lessons from Rosalind, they do so with the same potential to make that world a less punishing place.

 Rosalind‘s multifarious qualities places her among the immortals. Her heart seems a perennial stream of affectionate cheerfulness. She is also endowed with an active intellect disciplined by culture, which is rich in renaissance spirit.

Hi Friends!

In Rosalind you will find purity, passion and freedom of an ideal princess.
Her character is an abiding interest among the critics and readers.As a genuine reader we can not miss These  points of arguments :

1. The dominating figure of the play with all the charms of a heroine.
2.Her sparkling wit and humour.
3.Her intellectual femininity which is a clear sign of Renaissance.
4. Her sportive gaiety and natural affection as mentioned by Hazlitt.

            Ardhendu De


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An English Teacher;    M. A.(English) , D. Ed., B. Ed., UGC- NET Qualified

"Dear Readers/ Students, I am a huge fan of books, English Grammar & Literature. I write this blog to instill that passion in you." 

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