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As You Like It

William Shakespeare
Summary Act IV, scenes i–ii
Summary Act IV, scenes i–ii

Rosalind might be construed as a spoilsport, out to ruin everyone else’s fun by exposing the crumbling foundations of their love fantasies, but there is much more to her than this simplistic interpretation. Certainly, even her closest confidante Celia misunderstands her, claiming that Rosalind, in her attempts to drain the excess of Orlando’s romanticism, has succeeded in disparaging the entire female sex. Rosalind’s goal is less to represent the female gender than to show Orlando that, just as there is no such thing as a perfect and heroic love, there is also no such thing as an ideal and ideally worthy woman. By stripping Orlando and herself of the ideals that preoccupy him, Rosalind prepares them both for love in the real world, for a love that strikes a balance between the transcendent and the familiar, and for a love that blends the loftiness of Silvius’s poetry with the baseness of Touchstone’s desires. Thus, Rosalind’s attacks on Orlando’s idea of love are not an attack on love itself. After all, Rosalind herself is clearly and deeply in love. Her attempts to furnish Orlando with a more realistic understanding of love are a means of ensuring that their relationship will thrive in a world less enchanted than Ardenne.