Explain the meaning and also the pun mentioned in Rosalind's speech in ACT 1 SCENE 2WITH bills on their neck....... by these presents.'

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The quote by Rosalind in "As You Like It" is a pun. ( A pun is a joke which exploits different plausible meanings of a word. Another definition of a pun relies on the fact that  or the fact that there are words that sound alike but have different meanings.)

The pun exists in Rosalind's quote given the actual word which she is referring to is 'presence' (seen in the previous line spoken by Le Beau) and not "presents."

The meaning behind the pun used by Rosalind refers to the fact that while the men are being presented as "of excellent growth and presence", Rosalind recognizes them as common criminals. This comes from the fact that, during this time period, bills were used as a legal tool which allowed people to see what crimes a person had been charged with. Bills were often placed above a criminal placed in shackles so that everyone would know what they have been found guilty of.

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