In Shakespeare's comedy As You Like It, why does Celia suggest that she and Rosalind should change fathers?
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In Act I, Scene 3 of William Shakespeare's comedy As You Like It, Celia, daughter of Duke Frederick, suggests that she would be willing to exchange her father with the father of Rosalind, Celia's cousin and daughter of the previous, rightful Duke, whom Frederick has overthrown. Frederick, fearing that Rosalind is becoming too popular with the populace, wrongfully accuses her of treason and orders her to leave his court and join her banished father. When Celia protests, the following exchange occurs:
- FREDERICK You are a fool. You, niece, provide yourself.
If you outstay the time, upon mine honour,
And in the greatness of my word, you die.
Exeunt DUKE and LORDS
- CELIA O my poor Rosalind! Whither wilt thou go? 495
Wilt thou change fathers? I will give thee mine.
I charge thee be not thou more griev'd than I am.
Celia’s response is significant for a number of reasons:
- It indicates her deep disapproval of her father’s behavior.
- It indicates the depth of her love for Rosalind.
- It indicates some sympathy on her part for Rosalind’s banished father.
- It helps raise the issue of love, a major theme of this play.
- It helps prepare us for her willingness to follow Rosalind into exile.
- It helps introduce the theme of change in a play that will be all about change, including changes of costume and character.
- It shows her capacity for sympathy.
- It helps establish her as one the virtuous characters in the play.
- It reinforces our already negative reaction to Frederick: if he has lost the sympathy of his own virtuous daughter, he deserves no sympathy from us.
- It implies that Celia, not her father, is the character who possesses a true sense of “honor.”
- It helps us realize that it is Frederick, not his daughter, who is the true “fool” in this scene.
- It helps prepare us for a play in which female characters will often show a good deal of independence, initiative, and virtue
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