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As You Like It

William Shakespeare
Summary Act I, scenes ii–iii
Summary Act I, scenes ii–iii

Indeed, it is this very freedom that Rosalind seeks as she departs for the Forest of Ardenne: “Now go we in content, / To liberty, and not to banishment” (I.iii.131132). By christening herself Ganymede, Rosalind underscores the liberation that awaits her in the woods. Ganymede is the name of Jove’s beautiful young male page and lover, and the name is borrowed in other works of literature and applied to beautiful young homosexuals. But while the name links Rosalind to a long tradition of homosexuals in literature, it does not necessarily confine her to an exclusively homosexual identity. To view Rosalind as a lesbian who settles for a socially sanctifying marriage with Orlando, or to view Celia as her jilted lover, is to relegate both of them to the unpleasantly restrictive quarters of contemporary sexual politics. The Forest of Ardenne is big enough to embrace both homosexual and heterosexual desires—it allows for both, for all, rather than either/or.