Back to: As You Like It by William Shakespeare
Rosalind is one of the loveliest pictures painted by Shakespeare. She is full of grace, humor, and frankness. In the play ‘As You Like It’, Rosalind is the female protagonist and rightly one of the brightest heroines.
Her “tender heart is coupled with a spirit so brave.” Throughout the play, she daringly disregards all shallow convention. With such a delicate sensibility and a fine intellect, she easily wins every reader’s heart.
In terms of physical appearance, as her lover Orlando describes, “from the east to western Ind, no jewel is like Rosalind.” In the play, we learn that she has “Helen’s cheek, but not her heart; Cleopatra’s majesty; Atlanta’s better parts; Sad Lucretia’s modesty.”
She is a supreme case of all feminine virtues. Her wit surpasses her beauty. It keeps her heart light and forever lovely. Her wit also surrounds her with cheerfulness. Whenever the situation becomes gloomy, her witty humor turns it into brightness.
Verity wrote, “Hers is the keenest sense of fun…coupled with a clever brain and aptitude of speech.” In the forest, when she gets gloomy, she seeks the company of Jaques who is supposedly melancholic.
She replies to everyone in a fitting manner. When Jaques is talking to her, she replies, “to have seen much and to have nothing, is to have rich eyes and poor hands.”
Rosalind’s character is bold and courageous. As Harold Bloom said, she doesn’t wait for the man to make love to her. She can express her feelings boldly and as first. She doesn’t bear injustice in silence.
When Duke Frederick banishes her, she replies that “your mistrust can’t make me a traitor: tell me where on the likelihood depends.” When he accuses her of treason, she replies again “treason is not inherited my lord…my father was no traitor.” It shows the courage of Rosalind on the face of tyranny.
Rosalind is a supreme woman and ironically more ideal when she is in male attire. Her disguise improves her freedom of speech. She says to Celia, “Do you not know that I am a woman? When I think I must speak.”
Whatever she says and does, in her core lies “a passionate love as pure and all-absorbing as ever swayed in a woman’s heart.”
Rosalind’s character is the very essence of love. To the very end of the play, she keeps enchanting us with her subtle words. She portrays a firm thoughtfulness and a superior height of “womanly dignity.”