In As You Like It, why does Celia use the term wrestle in Act I scene 3?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is always important when trying to deduce the meaning of specific words to look at them in context. At the beginning of Act I scene 3 of this famous pastoral comedy, Rosalind is unusually silent, having fallen in love with Orlando. Celia jests with Rosalind about this, urging her to try and cheer herself up. Having said how difficult it is for her to overcome her love-sick mood, Celia urges Rosalind to "wrestle with they affections," which represents a wrestling pun meaning to try to overcome or overthrow one's passions. This wrestling pun, linking wrestling and falling in love stresses the way that romance and aggression can be linked. Note how Rosalind responds to Celia's suggestion:

O, they take the part of a better wrestler than myself.

Rosalind follows this verbal pun by arguing that her affections are actually stronger and more cunning in wrestling than she herself is, thus pointing towards the way she feels unable to vanquish or overcome her feelings of love. Having fallen in love, she finds herself dominated and overpowered. The wrestling puns help to reinforce this.

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