Why do Rosalind and Celia disguise themselves when they leave the court in As You Like It?

Rosalind and Celia disguise themselves when they leave the court in As You Like It in order to pass unnoticed in the Forest of Arden. The journey to the forest will not be a simple one. On the contrary, it is fraught with danger. And so instead of traveling as themselves, Rosalind and Celia will go in disguise as, respectively, Ganymede and Aliena.

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The tyrannical Duke Frederick has decided to banish his niece Rosalind from the ducal court. There is no good reason for this outrageous action; Frederick is only doing it because he's insanely jealous of the huge popularity that Rosalind enjoys. What he particularly hates about his niece is that she reminds her of Duke Senior, Frederick's brother whom he banished to the Forest of Arden. So long as Rosalind's around, Frederick will never feel secure on the throne, and so he makes the fateful decision to banish her.

Frederick's daughter Celia is horrified at her father's tyranny, and tries to intercede with him on Rosalind's behalf. But it's all to no avail. As Celia can't prevent her father from banishing Rosalind, she decides to go with her to the Forest of Arden. This is a risky strategy, at best, one that's fraught with considerable danger. If Celia is caught defying her father there's no telling what might happen.

Celia will run off with Rosalind, then, but only in disguise. Rosalind, too, will disguise herself so as not to attract attention. This way, the two young ladies can be together without arousing suspicion. But they will have to adopt convincing disguises if the subterfuge is going to work. If anything, though, Rosalind and Celia's disguises—Rosalind becomes a man called Ganymede and Celia a shepherdess by the name of Aliena—are a little too convincing, as they cause all manner of confusion throughout the rest of the play.

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