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Sexual Ambiguity in As you like it - Essay Example

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The sexual ambiguity in As You Like It is portrayed mainly by Shakespeare’s use of relationships throughout the play. The focus of this essay will be on the sexual tensions and ambiguities present in the relationships between Celia and Rosalind, Orlando and Ganymede and Phoebe and Ganymede. …
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Sexual Ambiguity in As you like it
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Download file to see previous pages The first slightly questionable relationship the reader sees within the play is that of Celia and Rosalind. They are cousins, but when Orlando is leaving, Le Beau alludes to the fact that they do in fact share a bond that is out of the ordinary. The answer to the question of how close two individuals can be can often take physical and emotional dimensions. Rosalind and Celia are undeniably more than just friends. One can judge the relationship between the two as both emotional and physical. When Shakespeare introduces the two characters (Rosalind and Celia), Celia uses flowery expressions to describe Rosalind. She refers to Rosalind as “my sweet rose, my dear rose” ideally, one would expect such kind of descriptions to come from a man when describing a woman who is his lover. When Celia was later defending Rosalind against her father, she accepted that Rosalind is a turncoat following the fact that they had “slept together.” Having slept with Rosalind, Celia admits that she too should be branded a traitor if her friend, Rosalind is considered to be a traitor. The use of phrases such as “slept together”, as well as “inseparable” by a lady in reference to another lady is in itself complex enough as regards sexuality (Bloom 54). Normally, anyone would expect to hear a man use such terms when referring to his lover or when a woman is referring to her male lover, but in this case, here are two women exhibiting some uncommon sexual bond between them. How sophisticated can it be? The two sisters are presented as two swans that belong together and cannot be separated from one another. Further, Rosalind puts on male cloths to disguise herself against any probable assailant when they set off for the Forest of Arden from the palace. After choosing a male figure, Touchstone, to go with them, his presence as a male companion was enough security for them. They were no longer alone travelling through the forest. In spite of the presence of Touchstone, Rosalind readily agreed to put on male cloths, which puts into question gender role as she takes a masculine responsibility. Rosalind had no reason for disguising herself in male attire to keep off possible attackers because they had Touchstone at their disposal. The fact that she goes ahead to wear male cloths invokes a sense of sexual ambiguity in the play. The relationship between gender roles and attires is brought into focus through cross dressing. Rosalind easily slips into male attire, which enables her to move around with much ease, issue advice and mingle with other men easily without any trouble. The freedom accorded to her courtesy of her dress code gives her the authority to initiate courtship. Rosalind appears to be more active than her friend Celia, who remains largely passive as she retains her female identity. When the two friends are in the Forest of Arden, it is quite fascinating to see Celia, who assumes a female identity sits back and wait for fortune to knock at her door and deliver a man in her life. On the contrary, Rosalinda who dresses up like a man and takes a more masculine role actively seeks for courtship. Sexual ambiguity in the play As You Like It also manifests when Shakespeare presents scenes that contradict the possibility of any sexual relationship having taken place between Rosalind and Celia. As it later emerges, both friends, Rosalind and Celia, are much enthusiastic about getting involved in relationships with Orlando and Oliver. Rosalind and Celia are much willing to take in Orlando and Oliver as their male lovers. Their readiness to accept heterosexual relationships ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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