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as you like it

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In William Shakespeare’s, ‘As You Like It,’ the tension between appearance versus reality is the result of the deceptive nature of the circumstances the characters of the play find themselves in. When Rosalind dresses as a male figure, she disguises her true identity and challenges the conventions of the preconceived ideas of gender roles. Thus, in several aspects, the subversion of the role she adopted through disguise eventually becomes more honest than deceitful. Rosalind was able to fully contain her new character engaging in the deceit in the short and long term of the play. The idiosyncratic nature of the play essentially advocates social struggles of gender roles and the truth behind manifestation. Shakespeare’s play investigates, the prejudiced assumptions humans have on one another suggesting that the roles that they play are a mere part of the theatricality of everyday life leading to the exploration of the truth behind love, and disguise versus deception.

The theatricality of everyday life is explored throughout the play. The world, as it may seem, is indeed one giant theater. Each individual goes through stages of their lives, conforming to a certain part of society in distinctive ways. Everyone is a victim of his or her own disguise, suggesting that subversion to a certain appearance can eventually become the reality. This is shown through one of the most dominant characters in the play, Rosalind. When she becomes banished from the court in which she resided, she leaves not with dismay but with strong idiosyncratic opinion of the male dominated court.
‘Now we go in content… To liberty and not to banishment.’ (Act I, Scene III)
When leaving the court, Rosalind dresses as a male figure primarily to escape the haunting...

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... of the importance of the distinction between appearance and reality, Shakespeare concluded the play on a note of Rosalind seeking sanction from the audience, which espouses the melodramatic world that was created in the play. Rosalind was a very powerful character. She was able to experience emotions not confined by the preconceived role her gender assigned her.

The tension that Shakespeare created between appearance versus reality was a reflection of the prejudiced assumptions individuals have on one another. The foundations Shakespeare built of characters and settings deciphered, that circumstances are not always a they seem. In fact everyone is being deceived, emphasising how quickly one can form a judgment based on appearance. Coming to the conclusion that in fact,
‘All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players…’(Act II, Scene VII, pg. 43)
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