In Act III, Scene ii of As You Like It, how does Rosalind, disguised as Ganymede, defame women in her conversation with Orlando?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act III, Scene ii of As You Like It, Rosalind in disguise as Ganymede tells Orlando about an uncle, whom she made up, who fell in love in the city then retired to the country so as to mend a broken heart and give lectures about the wiles of women. Orlando asks her for details to which she replies that the information is only from those who are suffering from the sickness of love, which is demonstrated in a pale face and dreary "blue" eyes and slovenly grooming.

Orlando swears he is "love-shaken" and begs Ganymede for the "remedie": here he means remedy to the sickness of love, not necessarily to the emotion of love, which explains the seeming contradiction when later he says, "I would not be cured youth."

Of course Ganymede/Rosalind tells him some of the uncle's lessons about women, for it is all part of her plan to tease Orlando and at the same time gain both his companionship and romantic conversation about courtship. Some of the defaming things that the made-up uncle quoted by Ganymede/Rosalind said about women are:

  1. women love but won't confess it
  2. women are changeable in their behavior: one moment liking the suitor, the next moment proud; one moment full of tears, the next moment full of smiles; one moment feminine, next moment acting like an ape;
  3. grieving, fantastical, shallow, inconstant in their behavior as it changes from one thing to another.

Women are also compared to boys, who are immature and haven't developed reasoning powers, both are unpleasantly called "cattle."

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As You Like It

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