Discuss the significance of disguise in "As You Like It"?

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare tells us in "As You Like It" that:

  • "All the world's a stage
  • And all the men and women merely players".

The characters in this story are trapped by the roles that society requires of them.  Orlando, as a younger brother, is subservient to his brother.  Rosaline, as a woman, is subservient to men and not in control of her own destiny.  The only way for the characters to escape their "roles", ironically enough, are to take on disguises of other roles.  The become other people in order to escape from their lives.  In doing so, they become liberated.  Rosaline is able to express herself fully as a man in ways she is not allowed to do as a woman.  She is able to teach Orlando how to act to win her own heart, though that would be unacceptable if he knew she was a woman.  Orlando, free from his role as younger brother, is able to express his feelings, wishes and desires without the fear of being rebuffed.

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As You Like It

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