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In Act I, Scene 3 of Shakespeare's As You Like It, Duke Frederick orders his niece, Rosalind, to leave his court. He wrongly accuses her of treason. Significantly, his own daughter, Celia, protests the banishment of Rosalind. She says that when Rosalind’s father was originally banished, Frederick himself decided to allow the young girl to stay behind:
- Celia. I did not then entreat to have her stay;
It was your pleasure, and your own remorse;
I was too young that time to value her, 475
But now I know her. If she be a traitor,
Why so am I: we still have slept together,
Rose at an instant, learn'd, play'd, eat together;
And wheresoe'er we went, like Juno's swans,
Still we went coupled and inseparable. 480
This response is revealing about Cecilia’s character for a number of reasons, including the following:
- She shows her skill in arguing. Rather than defending Rosalind immediately and personally, she reminds her father that he was initially responsible for Rosalind staying at court. She therefore puts him in a position in which he must now contradict his own earlier decision.
- She implies that she is now more mature than she was as a child, whereas it is obvious to us that Frederick himself is the character presently behaving immaturely.
- She shows her confidence in her own judgment.
- She shows her willingness to defy even her father in order to stand up for virtue and right conduct.
- She shows the value she places on friendship, an important ideal in the Renaissance.
- She shows the lengths to which she is willing to go to defend her friend; she is even willing to accuse herself of treason in order to prove that her friend is innocent of the charge.
- She shows why she trusts her own judgment so much. She makes it very clear that she knows Rosalind far more intimately than Frederick does.
In her allusion to “Juno’s swans,” she implies that she is learned, so that her reaction here is not simply one of passion
In Shakespeare's As You Like It, when Duke Frederick unexpectedly banishes Rosaline in Act One, scene three, Rosalind has no choice but to obey: he threatens her with death if she does not go. However, Celia, Frederick's daughter, does not take this announcement quietly. In fact, she defies her father, who is a very powerful, but evil man. When he banishes Rosalind, Celia first reasons with him—Rosalind is like a sister to Celia. When he refuses to budge, Celia says:
Pronounce that sentence, then, on me, my liege:
I cannot live out of her company.
It is at this point, when Duke Frederick will not change his mind, Celia tells Rosalind that if she is to be banished, they will search for Celia's uncle, Rosalind's father:
Why, whither shall we go?
To seek my uncle in the Forest of Arden.
Celia secretly devises a plan to disguise Rosalind and herself, and go to find Duke Senior (Rosalind's father—Frederick's brother, who Frederick usurped and banished as well) in the Forest of Arden. Dressing as poor people (and Rosalind as a boy), Celia says they will be safe traveling without an escort—though they will take Touchstone, a jester her Frederick's court, who will help them.
I'll put myself in poor and mean attire,
And with a kind of umber smirch my face;
The like do you; so shall we pass along,
And never stir assailants.
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