Discuss the relationship between Celia and Rosalind in As You Like It.

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William Shakespeare was an English playwright who lived from April 26, 1564 to April 23, 1616. His pastoral comedy, As You Like It, was first published in 1623. It is an account of Rosalind and Celia ’s journey through the Forest of Arden, on the way encountering all sorts...

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William Shakespeare was an English playwright who lived from April 26, 1564 to April 23, 1616. His pastoral comedy, As You Like It, was first published in 1623. It is an account of Rosalind and Celia’s journey through the Forest of Arden, on the way encountering all sorts of interesting characters.

In As You Like It, Rosalind and Celia are both young women who come from the same wealthy, aristocratic family. Celia is the daughter of Duke Frederick while Rosalind is the daughter of Duke Senior, Duke Frederick’s banished brother. The two cousins share a very close and possibly homoerotic relationship. In Act I, Scene II, in fact, Celia introduces Rosalind as “my sweet rose, my dear rose”. Additionally, in Act I, Scene II, Celia states that she could “love no man in good earnest” when asked about her thoughts on falling in love.

Rosalind takes on the more traditionally masculine role in their relationship. This is evidenced in her willingness to disguise himself as a man to offer them both protection in the forest. Thus, Rosalind becomes the male Ganymede while Celia chooses to disguise herself as the shepherdess Aliena. Rosalind is also shown to be more brave and adventurous than Celia. While Celia is not as gutsy as Rosalind, however, she proves to be very loyal to her. This loyalty leads her to disobey her father and join Rosalind in the Forest of Arden, where Rosalind’s father, Duke Senior, has held court since his banishment.

While the play hints heavily at an erotic relationship between the two, Rosalind and Celia do not end up with each other. In the end, Rosalind marries Orlando while Celia marries Orlando’s brother, Oliver.

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As the play opens, Rosalind and Celia are cousins and very close friends. Both come from aristocratic backgrounds: Rosalind is the daughter of the deposed Duke Senior, whose brother, Celia's father, Ferdinand, has usurped his throne and banished Duke Senior.

The relationship between Rosalind and Celia explores the loyalty and love that can permeate strong female friendships. Their bond is especially intense and has been called homoerotic by some literary critics. In act 1, the two friends are described as “coupled and inseparable”; they always share the same bed (a common practice in Elizabethan times, but one also noted as a symptom of their closeness), and Celia extravagantly offers to give Rosalind the rule of the kingdom after Celia's father dies. People in the court notice that their bond is far tighter than that of ordinary friendship. Thus, when Ferdinand banishes Rosalind, Celia feels no choice but to join her dearest friend in exile in the Forest of Arden.

The same-sex friendship assumes gender-bending qualities in Arden as Rosalind disguises herself as a male to offer them both protection in the forest. She becomes the "man" Ganymede, while Celia takes on the guise of the shepherdess Aliena, a typically female role. After they assume distinct gender identities, they also begin to assume traditional gender roles, with Rosalind more fully taking on the dominant traits associated with "maleness" and becoming an important agent of the happy resolution of the play.

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