Why is Rosalind the "strongest" woman in As You Like It?   

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shakespeareguru's profile pic

shakespeareguru | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Rosalind also, thanks to Shakespeare, is able to bypass the "weakness" of a woman's position in society because she spends the majority of the play disguised as Ganymede.  As such, she is able to move freely (One of the initial reasons she adopts the disguise is so that she and Celia will be better protected on their own.) about the Forest of Arden without any fear of the sort of danger that might be visited upon a woman travelling alone.

She is also able to be wittier and smarter (especially about Love) than Orlando, taking a position superior to him as his "tutor" on the subject of wooing a woman.  In this case, she is in the strongest position of any woman in a Shakespeare comedy.  Not only does she get her man,  but she teaches him to be exactly the lover she desires.

So, Rosalind's disguise as Ganymede helps promote her in "strength" to an equal footing with the men in the play.

shaketeach's profile pic

shaketeach | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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It must be remembered that in his comedies, Shakespeare shows us remarkable women.  Rosalind is certainly one of them.

Perhaps the best reason for this is that on the throne of England was a queen and not just any queen but Elizabeth I who was an extremely well educated and powerful woman.

Rosalind is witty and strong and also well educated.  She understands human nature and teaches Orlando what love is all about.  Through her, other characters also learn this lesson.

In Rosalind, Shakespeare has embodied these wonderful qualities of his queen.

herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

As we know, Elizabethan women were considered as a very essential part of the household, but a silent and consenting part at that. Rosalind's character is very radical for its time and place in that she is the wittier character in the whole place (therefore, the most intelligent), she was opinionated, she held back nothing, and even the men who were near her seemed weak and silly in comparison.

It is just very interesting to analyze how an Elizabethan play gives one woman so many rights and opportunities to speak out, confer, explain, and give an opinion when women were always seen and not heard. Hence, Rosalind is the Elizabethan icon for modern feminism.

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