?As You Like It? – Character Changes Essay, Research Paper
Character Changes in “As You Like It”
Many characters undergo a change in William Shakespeare’s play, “As You Like It”. Duke Senior goes from being a member of a court to being a member of a forest and Orlando changes from a bitter, younger brother, to a love-struck young man. The most obvious transformation undergone, is undoubtedly that of Rosalind. Her change from a woman to a man, not only alters her mood, candor, and gender, but also allows her to be the master of ceremonies.
Celia and Rosalind are fairly happy in the court of Celia’s father, Duke Frederick. However, much to her surprise, the Duke banishes Rosalind from his court because of his dislike for her. Celia, not allowing her beloved cousin to “go it alone”, decides to accompany her to where ever she may roam. They decide to search out Rosalind’s father, Duke Senior, in the forest of Arden. Before they depart, Rosalind decides that the forest, being a treacherous place full of danger, demands that she dresses as a man, while Celia remained a woman.
“Were it not better, Because that I am more than common tall,
That I did suit me all points like a man? A gallant curtal ax upon my thigh,
A boar spear in my hand, and- in my hear Lie there what hidden woman’s fear there will-
We’ll have a swashing and a martial outside, As many other mannish cowards have
That do outface it with their semblances.” (1:3 ll. 112-120)
At first glance, this transformation is a mere change of clothes and the addition of weapons, but it goes much deeper. To Rosalind, the taking on of a man’s appearance requires certain things. She believes that while dressed as a man, she cannot bring shame to the image of men. A good example of this is in Act 2, Scene 4, where she says, “I could find in my heart to disgrace my man’s apparel and to cry like a woman; but I must comfort the weaker vessel, as doublet and hose ought to show itself courageous to petticoat. (ll. 4-7). This is not the only time she mentions a doublet and hose. It seems almost that the doublet and hose are the actual source of strength for a man, as in the next example when Rosalind is begging Celia for an answer, saying, “Good my complexion! Dost thou think, / though I am caparisoned like a man, I have a Doublet and hose in my disposition?” (3:2, ll.191-193)
Shakespeare’s play “As you like it,” is a comedy about the changes the characters undergo. Although several characters undergo significant changes, the most apparent are in the character Rosalind, who is kicked out of her uncle’s kingdom and is forced to dress as a man, and falls in love with Orlando.