In Act 3 scene 5 of As You Like It, how does Phoebe defend herself against the charges levelled against her by Silvius?

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It is hard not to feel some sympathy for Silvius in his position of suffering from unrequited love for Phoebe. At the beginning of this scene, he again bombards Phoebe with his love, asking her for even a word of kindness, making a comparison with an executioner and the way that he asks pardon before killing his victim, and asking Phoebe if she will be "sterner" than this by not giving him even a word of kindness.

Phoebe does everything she can to convince Silvius that she is not interested. She tells Silvius that she runs away from him because she does not want to "injure" him and has no interest in being his "executioner." She wishes that her eyes would be able to wound Silvius, but recognises that eyes do not have the power to wound in the way that Silvius suggests. Silvius then responds by saying that if she falls in love one day then she will be able to understand the pain that Phoebe suffers. Phoebe responds to this by saying that until this time comes, Silvius must keep away from her:

But till that time

Come not near me. And when that time comes,

Afflict me with thy mocks, pity me not,

Amnd till that time I shall not pity thee.

Note how Silvius plays the role of the conventional pastoral lover, whom, some critics argue, is more in love with love itself than with Phoebe.

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As You Like It

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