Cross dresser, poetry critic, tease, and dispenser of advice to the lovelorn, the heroine of William Shakespeare's play As You Like It.

In Act I, Rosalind is living in the palace with her uncle, Duke Frederick, who has usurped her father's rightful place and banished him to the Forest of Arden. This does not last long: Frederick banishes Rosalind, too, for granting her favor to Orlando, son of one of Frederick's enemies. Fleeing to the Forest of Arden with her cousin Celia and the clown Touchstone, Rosalind disguises herself as a boy, calling herself "Ganymede", and takes up as a shepherd.

Before long, however, Rosalind and her companions begin finding doggerel verses nailed to trees: love poems to Rosalind!

"If a hart do lack a hind,
Let him seek out Rosalind.
If the cat will after kind,
So, be sure will Rosalind.
Winter garments must be lin'd,
So must slender Rosalind..."
TOUCHSTONE
This is the very false gallop of verses: Why do you infect yourself with them?
ROSALIND
Peace, you dull fool! I found them on a tree.
TOUCHSTONE
Truly, the tree yields bad fruit.
Celia finds that the wince-inducing poet is none other than Orlando himself. Indeed, coming upon Rosalind in the forest, Orlando, fooled by his dearest love's disguise as a man, confesses as much:
ROSALIND
But, in good sooth, are you he that hangs the verses on the trees, wherein Rosalind is so admired?
ORLANDO
I swear to thee, youth, that by the white hand fo Rosalind, I am that he, that unfortunate he.
ROSALIND
But, are you in so much love as your rhymes speak?
ORLANDO
Neither rhyme nor reason can express how much.
Thus does Rosalind find that Orlando returns her regard. Still, she decides to have a bit of fun with him, offers to "cure" Orlando of his affliction: Orlando is to pretend that "Ganymede" is indeed Rosalind, and try to woo "him". "Ganymede" will spurn Orlando and treat him so badly that Orlando will surely give up. "Ganymede" claims to have "cured" other such lovelorn fools.

Confused enough yet?

So for the rest of the play, Orlando says sweet nothings to "Ganymede".

Anyway, things get sillier and sillier, more and more people get involved in this love polygon (a local shepherdess, Phebe, has fallen in love with "Ganymede"):

PHEBE
Youth, you have done me much ungentleness, To show the letter that I write to you.
ROSALIND
I care not, if I have: it is my study to seem despiteful and ungentle to you: You are there followed by a faithful shepherd; look upon him, love him; he worships you.
PHEBE
Good shepherd, tell this youth what 'tis to love.
SILVIUS
It is to be all made of sighs and tears; -- And so I am for Phebe.
PHEBE
And I for Ganymede.
ORLANDO
And I for Rosalind.
ROSALIND
And I for no woman.
SILVIUS
It is to be all made of faith and service; -- And so I am for Phebe.
PHEBE
And I for Ganymede.
ORLANDO
And I for Rosalind.
ROSALIND
And I for no woman.

Peals of Elizabethan laughter ensue. The play winds down towards its rather saccharine ending: Pretenses are revealed, every character realizes his or her true love for some other character, with a mass wedding at the end.

Why do I saddle you with this stuff, you ask? To put is simply, the rather thin plot of As you Like It makes Rosalind's antics the most interesting thing in the play. Shakespeare spent half of the play making Rosalind subtly hint at things we still hint at.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.