Crossing Over Gender Normative Lines In As You Like It

1303 words, 6 pages

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William Shakespeare’s comedic play As You Like It confronts its audience members with the ridiculousness behind gender norms – specifically those placed upon women. Although the play is written with the purpose to entertain and humor playgoers, there is something embedded within the play that makes it so much more profound. Emerging at the center of all the action is Rosalind, the daughter of the banished Duke Senior, who challenges what it means to be a woman both in the court and outside of the court. Disguised as a man named Ganymede, Rosalind journeys to the Forest of Arden where she takes control of her own, womanly life. The more Rosalind comes into contact with society’s lines of gender and acceptable behavior, the more she... View More »

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His ability to weave this kind of character into his play is made possible because of its comedic nature. The subject is taken lightly, but it is possible that it got his audience thinking about women’s roles in society.
As Rosalind ventures into the Forest of Arden, her abilities to empower herself as a woman are only heightened by her disguise as a man named Ganymede. With her disguise, she is given even more of an opportunity to express herself in a way that would be deemed inappropriate by others if they knew she was really a woman. When Orlando arrives one hour later to their first meeting, she does not hesitate to vocalize her concern and irritability. She says to him, “Nay, an you be so tardy, / come no more in my sight. I had as lief be wooed of / a snail” (4.1.54-56). Not only does she chastise him for his tardiness, but also insults him. Although she is in a man’s disguise, Rosalind is still feeling these annoyances as a woman and is therefore still very outspoken about them; it is possible to assume that even without her disguise, she would still bring up these issues of tardiness to Orlando. She is well aware of how worthy her time is and is insulted by Orlando’s negligence. Her disguise as a man just makes it more socially acceptable to speak to Orlando in such a way. Rosalind’s representation in this scene is a complex one because the audience is fully aware that her character is actually a woman; therefore, it makes them wonder whether or not her behavior is or is not socially acceptable. Shakespeare may be prompting his audience to think of how they may ...

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deverell walter howard a scene from as you like it john collier in the forest of arden

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