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Relationships In Shakespeare's As You Like It

1450 words - 6 pages

Relationships in As You Like It

 
   "Pronounce that sentence on me, my liege. I cannot live out of her company"(Shakespeare quoted in Norton Anthology 1611). Who made these remarks about the dear Rosalind, was it Celia, the one whom she calls 'coz', or is Orlando the man that she is in love with? The question then becomes if Celia said these words what was her meaning. Is it that Celia is attracted to Rosalind as more than a friend or is this just an example of the female friendships of the time? This is a look at the different dynamics of relationships during the Renaissance. Those relationships of female friends, male bonding and homoeroticism in "As You Like It".

 

During the Renaissance the friendship between females was very important. At this time in history there came a time when a woman was no longer considered attractive to a man. When she reaches this point the friendship that she forms between herself and another female takes the place of a marriage. "The female friendship seems to appear in a specifically social form of female chastity which revises the characteristic masculinity of friendship rhetoric in the period" (Shannon 658). An example of the friendship that exists between Celia and Rosalind in "As You Like It" can be found in Act 3 scene 4 lines 1-5:

 

Rosalind: Never talk to me. I will weep."

Celia: Do, I prithee, but yet have the grace to consider that tears do not become a man

Rosalind: But have I not cause to weep?

Celia: As good cause as one would desire; therefore weep

(Shakespeare quoted in the Norton Anthology 1634)

 

In this conversation Celia takes on the masculine role even though it is Rosalind that is dressed as a man. Celia is very strong at a point in the play where Rosalind is facing some emotional troubles. As the more masculine of the two at this time, Celia tells Rosalind that maybe she should reconsider crying if she is trying to be a man. One can see the intense friendship that Celia and Rosalind share in the passage when Celia agrees that Rosalind does have a good reason to cry. The bond that is between female friends is analogous to the autonomy valorized in ideal male friendships (Shannon 658). Celia and Rosalind's friendship can also be example of the phenomenon of female friendship. The phenomenon of the female friendship that is so elusive in the writings of the Renaissance appears as an extraordinary dramatic effect, linking marriage and tyranny and enhancing the otherwise familiar disapprobation towards the absolute power of the patriarchal society (Shannon 658).

 

The bonding between males is something that is not an obvious in the writings of the Renaissance as other types of relationships. It has been noted that the structures of a patriarchal society have an "obligatory homosexuality" built in the male dominated kinship systems (Sedgwick 3). It is apparent in "As You Like It" that there is a bond between Adam and Orlando. The question is...

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