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Language of Love in Shakespeare's As You Like It

Powerful Essays
As You Like It is love: The Language of Love

The most obvious concern of As You Like It is love, and particularly the attitudes and the language appropriate to young romantic love. This is obvious from the relationships between Orlando and Rosalind, Silvius and Phoebe, Touchstone and Audrey, and Celia and Oliver. The action of the play moves back and forth among these couples, inviting us to compare the different styles and to recognize from those comparisons some important facts about young love. Here the role of Rosalind is decisive. Rosalind is Shakespeare's greatest and most vibrant comic female role. She is clearly the only character in the play who has throughout an intelligent, erotic, and fully anchored sense of love, and it becomes her task in the play to try to educate others out of their false notions of love, especially those notions which suggest that the real business of love is adopting an inflated Petrarchan language and the appropriate attitude that goes with it.

Rosalind falls in love with Orlando at first sight (as is standard in Shakespeare), becomes erotically energized, and remains so throughout the play. She's delighted and excited by the experience and is determined to live it to the full moment by moment. One of the great pleasures of watching Rosalind is that she is always celebrating her passionate feelings for Orlando. She does not deny them or try to play games with her emotions. She's aware that falling in love has made her subject to Celia's gentle mockery, but she's not going to pretend that she isn't totally thrilled by the experience just to spare herself being laughed at (she even laughs at herself, while taking enormous delight in the behaviour which prompts...

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