Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 788
Orlando has learned that Oliver has fallen in love with Aliena at first sight. He is incredulous at the news, but Oliver assures his brother that his love is genuine and asks for his permission to marry. He tells Orlando that after he is married he plans to give him their father's house "and all the revenue that was old Sir Rowland's." Furthermore, Oliver plans to "here live and die a shepherd." Orlando grants his consent. He tells Oliver that the wedding will take place the next day and bids him to invite the Duke and his followers.
Rosalind enters, still disguised as Ganymede. After she exchanges greetings with Oliver he departs. She tells Orlando that she had been distressed to hear of the wounds he suffered in his battle with the lioness, but Orlando is more worried about his romantic affairs. Rosalind remarks upon Oliver and Aliena's love for each other and predicts a happy marriage. Orlando replies that he is sad to "look into happiness through another man's eyes," for his own romantic situation seems far less promising.
Rosalind asks if she couldn't again serve as Orlando's Rosalind on the day of the wedding. But Orlando answers that he can "no longer live by thinking." Rosalind assures him that she has a solution to his problem. Since the age of three, she comments, she has "conversed with a magician" who has taught her the secrets of his art. She promises that when Oliver marries Aliena, Orlando will marry his Rosalind as well. She pledges to produce the real Rosalind the next day. Orlando is skeptical, but Ganymede reaffirms "his" promise and tells Orlando to dress in his best clothes and invite his friends to his own wedding.
Silvius and Phebe enter, and Phebe promptly criticizes Ganymede for showing her letter to Silvius. Rosalind tells her that it was her intention to be "despiteful and ungentle." She remarks that Silvius is a faithful shepherd and tells Phebe to love him, for he worships her. Silvius again declares his love for Phebe, but the shepherdess protests that she is in love with Ganymede. Orlando then proclaims his love for Rosalind. With Phebe's infatuation in mind, Rosalind announces that she is "for no woman." The lovers repeat their declarations until finally Rosalind wearies of their sighing: "Pray you, no more of this; 'tis like the howling of Irish wolves against the moon." She pledges to help Silvius if she can; she tells Phebe that she would love her if she could and requests a meeting the next day, promising, "I will marry you if ever I marry a woman, and I'll be married tomorrow." To Orlando, she remarks that she will satisfy him if ever she satisfied a man; she assures him that he will be married the next day. She also promises Silvius that he will be married at the same time.
In Scene 3, Touchstone announces to Audrey that they, too, will be: married on the morrow. Two Pages enter, and Touchstone requests a song. The Pages respond by singing "It was a Lover and his Lass," a merry song that celebrates love, marriage, and the pastoral, When the Pages have finished, Touchstone criticizes the song and their singing: "I count it but time lost to hear such a foolish song. God b' wi' you, and God mend your voices."
The notion of love at first sight again appears in Oliver's love for Aliena. In Lodge's Rosalynde, Aliena fell in love only after the hero's older brother had rescued her from a gang of thieves. Here we have what seems like an obligatory pairing; even Orlando asks wonderingly, "Is't possible?" However it is also a union with a number of precedents. Rosalind and Orlando also fell in love at first sight, and Phebe became similarly enchanted at her first encounter with Ganymede.
The comic confusion resulting from Rosalind's disguise reaches a climax in Scene 2. Much of the humor in this scene lies in repetition. Each of the lovers reprises his or her declaration of love until finally Rosalind wearies of their "howling" and promises a solution to everyone's problems. She has enjoyed the opportunity to have a last bit of fun with her masculine identity, but now she knows that the masquerade must end the next day.
Note the contrast between "It was a Lover and his Lass" in Scene 3 and Amiens's songs in the second act. Here there are no allusions to winter and rough weather; it is a song of spring and young love, with subtle evocations of the theme of time. This song sets the tone for the wedding scene that follows; each lover will be paired with his lass in joyous finale.
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