Thursday, September 19, 2019
Rosalind and the Masks in Shakespeares As You Like It :: Shakespeare As You Like It Essays
Rosalind and the Masks In this essay I would like to focus on Rosalind's - or rather Ganymede's - preoccupation with the outward show of things. Whether this is a result of her cross-dressing, the reason for the same, or the playwright's way of revealing his presence is not as yet clear to me, but Rosalind's constant insistence on the truth of masks and on the other hand her readiness to doubt this same truth fascinates me. When she decides to dress up as a boy, Rosalind seems to think a mannish outside sufficient to convince the world at large (I.iii.111-118). She is "more than common tall" and therefore all she needs is a "gallant curtle-axe", a "boar spear" and a "swashing and a martial outside" to hide her feminine anxiousness. Taking it for granted that noone will have the hunch to look beyond her male costume, she reasons that since cowardly men are able to hide these feminine qualities, she should be able to pass off as a man, simply by behaving mannishly. Being so totally dependent on her own disguise not being found out, it is funny how she proceeds to doubt anyone who does not put on an outward show fitting to their claims to feeling. The first to be put on the stand in this fashion is Orlando. As Ganymede Rosalind refuses to accept Orlando's claim to being the desperate author of the love-verses (s)he has found hanging on the trees on the grounds that he has no visible marks of love upon him. A lean cheek, which you have not; a blue eye and sunken, which you have not; an unquestionable spirit, which you have not; a beard neglected, which you have not (...) Then your hose should be ungartered, your bonnet unbanded, your sleeve unbuttoned, your shoe untied, and everything about you demonstrating careless desolation. (III.ii.363-371) He is, in other words, not exactly the picture of the despairing suitor. Neither does Jaques measure up to Rosalind's expectations of the melancholy traveller. She greets him with a "they say you are" (IV.i.3), and sends him off with the order of: Look you lisp, and wear strange suits; disable all the benefits of your own country; be out of love with your nativity, and almost chide God for making that countenance you are; or I will scarce think you have swam in a gondola.