Shakespeare's Use of the Idea of Disguise in "As You Like It"

1211 Words5 Pages
Shakespeare uses the idea of disguise in many of his plays. It is used as an escape from the characters’ personalities and sometimes for comic effect. In As You Like it, the disguise becomes very comical as in the time it was written only men could act on stage. This could lead to much confusion and comedy in the roles of those in disguise. Disguise can give the freedom to a character to act how they like and a chance for them to show their views. It was in the 16th Century that there became an increased sense of self consciousness and identity. This led to people creating an image for themselves. If one can create a self, they can create many different versions of themselves each showing a different aspect of that person. This links in very well with As You Like It because in the play, Rosalind creates many different disguises of herself. At one point she is disguised as a boy acting as Rosalind. Rosalind and Celia are the main focus for disguise in As You Like It. To ensure safety on their travels in the forest of Ardenne, they disguise themselves – Rosalind as a boy named Ganymede and Celia as a peasant named Aliena. Their names are also important to disguise. Aliena is similar to the Latin ‘Alius’ meaning other. Ganymede was a Trojan mythological hero. Rosalind also uses her disguise to test Orlando’s (the man she loves) feelings for her.

One central point is Rosalind’s disguise as a boy. When Rosalind is not disguised she finds it hard to act how she likes without discrimination. For example before Orlando wrestles with the court wrestler, Touchstone says that it is not a sport for women to watch;

“It is the first time that ever I heard breaking of ribs was sport for ladies.”

As a woman, Rosalind is expected to conform ...

... middle of paper ...

...ey are in the forest. There is no major reason for them to be disguised other than the fact that they are in the forest. When they sing and dance, they are revealing what they want to be. In the town, the courtiers are restricted to their life of seriousness. The forest enables them to act how they like.

To conclude, I believe that the characters do reveal themselves through disguise but not entirely. The personality of Rosalind was revealed through the way she enjoyed to trick people, the personality of the courtiers was revealed by their playful attitude in the forest and the personality of Orlando was shown by the fact that he did not disguise. To him everything is in the open and he has no secrets. Love is the only disguise. However, by looking at the different aspects of the characters’ personalities in their different roles, their behaviour is fully revealed.
Open Document