As You Like It Act IV, Scene 1
by William Shakespeare

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Act IV, Scene 1

Rosalind and Celia, still in their disguises, enter with Jaques, who expresses a desire to become better acquainted with Ganymede. Rosalind comments that she has heard that Jaques is "a melancholy fellow." Jaques admits this is true; he tells Rosalind that he likes melancholy better than laughter. Rosalind cautions against going to extremes of either melancholy or mirth, and Jaques retorts that "tis good to be sad and say nothing." In that case, Rosalind replies wittily, it is good to be a post. Jaques remarks that his melancholy was acquired during his travels abroad, but Rosalind is skeptical of his tale. Orlando enters soon afterward. Jaques bids farewell to Ganymede and departs.

Orlando, late for his rendezvous, casually explains to Rosalind that he has come within an hour of the appointed time. Rosalind chides him for being tardy; true lovers, she reminds him, arrive promptly. She tells him, "I had as lief be wooed of a snail," and she adds mischievously that a snail, like many husbands, has "horns." Women, she reminds him, can't be trusted to be faithful. Orlando protests that his Rosalind is virtuous. "And I am your Rosalind," Ganymede proclaims, elated by the compliment. Celia, worried that Orlando might realize the truth of this statement, quickly interjects, "It pleaseth him to call you so: but he hath a Rosalind of a better leer than you." However Orlando is none the wiser, and Ganymede bids Orlando to "Come, woo me." She asks Orlando what he would say if the "real" Rosalind were there. Orlando replies that he would kiss before he spoke. Rosalind tells him bluntly it would be better to speak first. After bantering merrily with Orlando, Ganymede plays the devil's advocate, telling him, "I will not have you."

Orlando protests that he would die if this were the case, but Rosalind replies skeptically that "men have died from time to time and worms have eaten them, but not for love." Orlando tells her he would not have his Rosalind "of this mind," for her frown might kill him. Ganymede then agrees to play Rosalind in a more receptive mood. 'Ask me what you will, I will grant it," she remarks. Orlando asks her to love him. Rosalind, as Ganymede, replies that she will, "Fridays and Saturdays and all," although she jests that she will also have twenty more men like him, since one cannot have "too much of a good thing." She then asks Celia to perform a mock marriage ceremony. Rosalind and Orlando exchange vows with Celia serving as "priest," but when they have finished, Ganymede cautions that women often change after they are married. She warns Orlando that his Rosalind will be jealous, clamorous, and giddy, will "weep for nothing," and will "laugh like a hyena" when he is trying to sleep.

Orlando tells Ganymede that he must leave for two hours to attend Duke Senior at dinner, but he promises to return. Rosalind warns him not to be late again, telling him that another lateness will prove him a "most pathetical break-promise" and a man unworthy of Rosalind's love. With a pledge to return on time, Orlando exits.

After he is gone, Celia chides Rosalind for having "misused our sex" in her role playing with Orlando. She jokingly threatens to pull off her doublet and hose to reveal her masquerade. Rosalind protests that she is more deeply in love than Celia realizes; My affection hath an unknown bottom, like the Bay of Portugal." She tells Celia that she cannot bear to be out of Orlando's sight and plans to "go find a shadow, and sigh till he come." While Rosalind is sighing, Celia will be doing something far more mundane: taking a nap.

Rosalind's reaction to Jaques is similar to Orlando's response in an earlier scene. Again, we are greeted by a classic conflict between youth and age. Rosalind would rather have a fool to make her merry than experience to make her sad. Her romanticism, like Orlando's, stands in sharp contrast to Jaques' cynical view of the world.

In this scene, Jaques attempts to define his melancholy as...

(The entire section is 1,489 words.)