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Essay on the Perfect Women of As You Like It and Much Ado About Nothing

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The Perfect Women of As You Like It and Much Ado About Nothing

Rosalind and Beatrice, the principal female characters of Shakespeare's As You Like It and Much Ado About Nothing respectively, are the epitome of Shakespeare's ideal woman. From these two characters, we can see personality traits and characteristics of what Shakespeare might have considered the perfect woman. Rosalind and Beatrice are characterized by their beauty, integrity, strength of character, intelligence, gaiety, seriousness, and warmth.

Shakespeare used Rosalind and Beatrice to portray his belief that the ideal woman is a woman of beauty. In the play As You Like It, poems were written to Rosalind by her lover Orlando praising her beauty and fairness. "All the pictures fairest lined are but black to Rosalind. Let no face be kept in mind but the fair of Rosalind."1 Phebe, another female character in this play, had a crush on Rosalind when she was disguised as Ganymede, a young boy in the forest. Obviously, this love was merely physical; Phebe was just attracted to Rosalind's good looks.

Beatrice is also a fair lady. Men were attracted to her, including Don Pedro, the prince of Arragon, who asked for her hand in marriage. Benedick, whom she married in the last scene, must have been attracted to Beatrice's beauty as well, because he swore to himself that the woman he would choose would have to be fair (II, iii, 29-33).

Shakespeare's ideal woman was one of integrity and strength of character as seen in Rosalind and Beatrice. Rosalind is virtuous. According to Monsieur Le Beau, a noble of the court in As You Like It, "... the people praise her for her virtues ... " (III, 284). Rosalind is described by Stanley Wells as "the full...

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