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MonkeyNotes-As You Like It by William Shakespeare
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Act I, Scene 3

Summary

In one of the rooms in the duke's palace, Rosalind and Celia are seen in conversation. Celia is surprised at the immediacy and intensity of her cousin's passion for Orlando. She advises her to slow down and take charge of herself. Their conversation is interrupted by Duke Frederick, who enters to tell Rosalind that she must leave the court. Rosalind demands to know the reason. He calls her a traitor, to which Rosalind responds that his mistrust of her does not make her a traitor. Additionally, Celia vigorously defends her cousin to her father, but it is to no avail. The duke is determined to be rid of Rosalind and tells her that she must be prepared to die if she stays at court.

Celia, ever faithful to Rosalind, insists on going with her to the Forest of Arden. Since it is not wise for two young beautiful girls to travel alone through the forest, they decide to disguise themselves. Since Rosalind is taller than the average woman, she will disguise herself as a man and call herself Ganymede. Celia will wear the clothes of a country maid and call herself Aliena. Rosalind suggests that they ask Touchstone to accompany them. Celia agrees and says that she is certain that Touchstone will oblige them if he is asked.

Notes

The scene brings out the intensity of Rosalind's love for Orlando. She tells Celia that she is helplessly smitten by him, even though she has only just met him. Part of the reason she is attracted to him is because her own father, Duke Senior, loved his deceased father, Sir Rowland. Celia advises her to slow down and be less emotional.

There is a fine example of dramatic irony in the scene, for the audience already knows from Le Beau's report that Duke Frederick is ill-disposed towards Rosalind. As a result, the audience is not terribly surprised when the duke interrupts the ladies and tells Rosalind that she must leave the court immediately. Celia insists upon going to the Forest of Arden with her, and from this point forward in the play, the forest will be the setting for all the action. Shakespeare will show it to be a much more free and pleasant place than the court.

Celia and Rosalind prove that they are not unthinking scatterbrains in this scene. First, Rosalind challenges the duke's banishment, questioning about his reasons. When he claims she is a traitor, Rosalind is not afraid to stand up to him. In making their travel plans, both Rosalind and Celia prove their rationality. Because they know it could be dangerous to travel alone as two beautiful young women, they decide to disguise themselves; Rosalind will dress as a young man, and Celia as a country maid. Their disguises will complicate the plot later in the play.

The decision of the girls to take Touchstone with them is significant. First, it again proves their rationality, for they trust him as a chaperone. More importantly, it keeps the fool in the middle of the action to comment on the affairs of men and the state of society. It also puts him in a place to fall in love with Audrey and to exercise his wit. Shakespeare's decision to have Rosalind take on the name of Ganymede is also significant. Ganymede is a mythic Greek youth whose boyish good looks made him a favorite of the Greek gods. In the Renaissance, Ganymede is used in poetry and drama as a symbol of same-sex love. Later in the play, other young men will be attracted to Ganymede.

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