Essay about The Issue of Gender in "As You Like It"

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One of the most intriguing aspects of As You Like It by William Shakespeare concerns the issue of gender. This issue generates a lot of interest and discussions due to its complexity. The main reason for such a concern in the play is the cross-dressing and role-playing. The central love interest between Rosalind and Orlando calls into question the conservative wisdom about men and women and their gender roles. It also challenges our presumptions about these roles in courtship, love, and relationships.
At the center of this courtship is a very complex ambiguity, which is difficult to fully appreciate without a production with which to compare. Here, we have a man, playing a woman, who has dressed herself up as a man who is pretending to be a woman, who is then courting Orlando. It’s quite a complex list of roles. In modern times, even if a young male actor were to not play the role of Rosalind, the theatrical irony remains far beyond the complexity of most plays. This theatrical irony is particularly relevant in Act Four, Scene One. In this scene, Orlando and Rosalind/Ganymede are on stage together. Rosalind, dressed as Ganymede, meets with Jaques for the first time. He explains that he prefers to be glum and somber because he has seen the world, and that his contemplations on what he has seen and experienced make him sad. Rosalind tells him that she prefers a fool, who keeps her happy to experience, which makes her sad. Orlando arrives and Rosalind says goodbye to Jaques. Orlando then approaches her and calls her Rosalind. She reprimands him for being an hour late and then accuses him of not truly being in love. Rosalind finally tells Orlando that she is in the right state of mind and is in good enough humor to woo her. He t...

... middle of paper ... make opinions and observations about them. It also makes us as readers and viewers think about true love and what it means. I found this play to be incredibly interesting, insightful, and an overall wonderful text to read and analyze.

Works Cited

Gerlach, Jeanne, Rudolph Almasy, and Rebecca Daniel. “Revisiting Shakespeare and Gender.” Revisiting Shakespeare and Gender. The Women in Literature and Life Assembly of The National Council of Teachers of English, 1996. Web. 23 Apr. 2014.
Montrose, Louis A. “The Place of a Brother” in As You Like It: Social Process and Comic Form.” Shakespeare Quarterly 32.1 (1981): 28-54.
Shakespeare, William, and Juliet Dusinberre. As You like It. London: Arden Shakespeare, 2006. Print.
Shakespeare, William. As You Like It. The Norton Shakespeare: Essential Plays. Eds. Stephen Greenblatt et al. New York: W.W Norton, 2009. Print.

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