In what instances does Rosalind expose her admirable wit and innate sense of propriety in Shakespeare's pastoral, romantic comedy As You Like It?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rosalind certainly does expose both her wit and her sense of propriety in many places throughout the play. One example of her using her wit to reference her sense of propriety can be seen in Act 4, Scene 1 when she, pretending to be Ganymede, has Orlando court Ganymede while pretending Ganymede is Rosalind. Early on in the scene, she asks him what he would say to her if she really was Rosalind and he really was wooing her. His response is to say that he would kiss Rosalind before he spoke to her. Rosalind exposes her sense of propriety by warning that he had better talk to her first and then kiss her when words have failed him. A chaste, unmarried noble woman like Rosalind in Shakespeare's day would consider being kissed by any man to be an attack on her virtue; hence, Rosalind is showing her sense of propriety by warning him not to take kissing so lightly. What's more, her warning is very witty in that she relates a lover to good speakers, or orators, who spit when they are out of things to say, as we see in her lines:

Very good orators, when they are out, they will spit; and for lovers lacking--God warn us!--matter, the cleanliest shift is to kiss. (IV.i.75-77)

Another example of Rosalind using her wit to defend her sense of propriety can be seen in her response to Phebe's rejection of Silvius. She openly states that Phebe is being vain, self-absorbed, and cruel to reject Silvius, showing us that Rosalind is very much against this type of behavior. She even tricks Phebe into marrying Silvius by making her promise that if she decides not to marry Ganymede, then she will marry Silvius instead. This trick is an excellent example of Rosalind using her wit and applying it to her sense of propriety.

sunithasrivastava | Student

Rosalind is admirable when she was accused by her uncle of treachery. She defends that she can't be a traitor as that idea is still not born in her mind.This shows her moral upright.

Then Duke Frederick says, that mere words can't prove one's innocence, so, he can't trust her. Upon questioning him on what ground he calls her a traitor, he tells her that being a daughter of her father is enough to be a traitor. She answers with full confidence that treachery is not inherited. She means to say it can't be taught or derived by her parents.She tackles her uncle with wit.

Wit is also seen when she put forwards the plan of disguising as shepherds from the saftey point of view.

Even after having heated argument with her uncle she doesn't loses her temper, rather, she requests him not to have such opinion about her just because she is poor.

When Rosalind and Celia elope from Duke Frederick's court they had to travel a long way on foot, resulting in tiredness. Being a female, even Rosaling feels exhausted but as she was in men's clothing, she tells them(Celia and Touchstone) that she has to supress her inability to walk further.

In another instance, on hearing the love story of Silvius, she feels the pain tenderly, but hides the fact that she has the same feeling for Orlando.

When she was teased by Aliena(Celia) in the forest the womanly feeling come out on her face and start blushing.

She scolds Phebe for not accepting Silvius proposal. In fact, she saw herself as Phebe and Silvius as Orlando. If she was approached by Orlando, in such case she would not have turn down the request. So out of anger, she scolds Phebe.

Again, when Oliver brings bloody napkin, she faints fearing that Orlando had been hurt badly. If she were a boy, he would have courage to tolerate the scene of bloody napkin.

So, by all these instances, we come to the conclusion that, she was possessing wit, moral order and femininity.



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As You Like It

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