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As You Like It: Representation of Love Essay


What do you find interesting about Shakespeares representation of different types of love in As you like it?

William Shakespeare paints the trials and tribulations of Rosalind and Orlando on the brooding canvas of the court and a jovial one of the country. Rosalind and Orlando two ardent lovers segregated in the realms of the comedy which is characterised by mistaken identities, deceptions and transformations. There is a wide spectrum of the representations of love in As you like it the portrayal of true and unconditional love felt between Rosalind and Orlando juxtaposed to the lusty and physical infatuation shared by Touchstone and Audrey. Shakespeare provides the characters with the opportunity to articulate their personal and philosophical sentiment about the subject, expressing views about the different types of love experienced not only by the characters, but also in life in general.

Rosalind and Orlando have a romantic love adorned between them which is initially represented similarly to the situation of Romeo and Juliet the circumstances of two families ostracised by an ancient vendetta producing two star-crossed lovers. Rosalind is bound by her usurping uncle who detests Orlandos father.

My fathers rough and envious disposition,

sticks me at heart.

This suggests that the progression of Rosalinds love with Orlando seems initially unattainable. At the preliminary acquaintance with Orlando she presents him with her necklace as a symbol of support and a cue to court her. Orlando remains tongue-tied at this gesture which portrays his requited feelings towards her. The way in which they meet and fall in love is traditional, Rosalind is won over by Orlando's manly labours and good looks at his wrestling match , and performs her feminine obligation of mercy by trying to dissuade him from what appears to be such a disastrous venture. It is true love at first sight, another traditional feature of such a romance. Celia believes Rosalinds ardour towards Orlando is merely lasciviousness. The phrase,

Is it possible, on such a sudden, you should fall into so

gstrong a liking wit old Sir Rolands youngest son

This represents Celias shock at Rosalinds claims to be in love with him when they have only momentarily met. However, a new dimension is added by Rosalind's disguise as Ganymede and her suggestion that Orlando pretend to court her. The words,

A lean cheek, which you have not; a blue ye and sunken,

which you have not; an unquestionable spirit, which you have not;

a beard neglected which you have not.

But you are no such man;

you are rather point-device to your accoutrements, as loving

yourself than seeming the lover of any other.

This states that when in love there is no time to be besotted on your appearance as you are profoundly thinking of your lover. This is the way in which Shakespeare gives Rosalind the chance to test the authenticity of Orlandos love to her. She is compelling him in a subtle manner to prove his love for her.

Orlando's attraction to her in her boyish guise is unexpected and accomplishes the humorous aspect of the play. At times Rosalind unintentionally abandons her guise of Ganymede, reflecting her true thoughts for Orlando. At the sight of Orlandos blood she faints and pretends to have been acting. There is a real chemistry between Orlando and Ganymede which can only be derived to ones imagination of Orlandos true sexuality or his innate response to Ganymedes genuine identity. There are sentences laden with innuendo, such as "Fair youth, I would I could make thee believe I love," However, in spite of her self-assurance before Orlando, the audience is totally in sympathy with her, knowing her true love for Orlando, which she accidentally demonstrates many times.

The lack of love between Orlando and Oliver is due to the hierarchy of positions within the de Boys household where Oliver has acquired all the wealth and status and deprives Orlando of the love of a true brother.

Although Oliver has acknowledged that his brother is a good person he is still within himself to feel utmost hostility towards him. The following phrase distinguishes this;

I shall see an end of him, for my soul - yet I know not why - hates

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