What do Rosalind and Celia discuss about fortune and nature in Act 1 Scene 2 of "As You Like It"?

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ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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In Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” Act I Scene II opens with Celia and Rosalind discussing the banishment of Rosalind’s father.  Celia tells Rosalind that she should cheer up and realize that she is deeply loved and will inherit the crown when her uncle dies.   Celia promises to have Rosalind gain the crown and Rosalind says that for Celia’s sake she will be more cheerful.  The two women then decide to take on the topic of Fortune. Celia wants to mock fortune until “she” begins to give out her gifts more evenly.  Rosalind responds by saying that fortune is unfair and gives gifts to the wrong people.  The women believe that fortune is especially hard on women.  They debate the concept of what fortune is and what is given by nnature. The main idea is that fortune makes some women beautiful but they have low morals and are sluts,  while the good ladies are created ugly.  Rosalind says that those gifts are not from Fortune but from Nature.  Rosalind says that nature determines how we're made, and Fortune decides what happens to us." Celia continues the argument by saying that Nature may make a woman beautiful but then Fortune can cause her to be burned, thus making her ugly.  The debate is interupted by Touchstone and the women decide that Fortune has created this interuption to play a trick on Nature by interupting two witty women with a "natural fool."

I would we could do so; for her benefits are mightily
misplaced: and the bountiful blind woman doth most mistake in
her gifts to women.

'Tis true; for those that she makes fair she scarce makes
honest; and those that she makes honest she makes very

Nay; now thou goest from Fortune's office to Nature's: Fortune
reigns in gifts of the world, not in the lineaments of Nature.

No; when Nature hath made a fair creature, may she not by
Fortune fall into the fire?--Though Nature hath given us wit to
flout at Fortune, hath not Fortune sent in this fool to cut off
the argument?


Indeed, there is Fortune too hard for Nature, when
Fortune makes Nature's natural the cutter-off of Nature's wit."


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