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Discuss how successfully the dramatic device of disguise is used in ‘As You Like It.’

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Discuss how successfully the dramatic device of disguise is used in 'As You Like It.' In 'As You Like It', the dramatic device of disguise is very important, because of the dramatic opportunities it presents. Shakespeare opens two opportunities: the characters can say what they would otherwise be unable to say, and hear what they would otherwise be unable to hear. The main character who uses disguise is Rosalind, although Celia does too, to a lesser extent. We first see these two characters in Act I Scene 2. In this scene, we find out background information of the characters, for example that Rosalind's father, the Duke, was banished. We also see Orlando and Rosalind fall in love, after they meet for the first time at the wrestling match in the gardens of the palace. Rosalind gives Orlando her necklace, giving him a sign that she has fallen in love with him. Rosalind: Wear this for me, Rosalind: Sir, you have wrestled well, and overthrown More than your enemies. Orlando also admits to himself that he has fallen in love with her, but gives no indication of such to Rosalind, as he remained silent. Orlando: What passion hangs these weights upon my tongue? I cannot speak to her, yet she urg'd conference. O poor Orlando, thou art overthrown! In Act I Scene 3, Rosalind admits to Celia how much she loves Orlando, and that she is not merely 'playing' at falling in love, as they had discussed in the precious scene. ...read more.


Act I Scene 2, and she can hear what she never expected to hear, because they are not bound by social expectations, as Orlando does not know Ganymede is Rosalind. Their relationship stays fun and lively, because he can be open and honest, and express his emotions, and she can willingly accept his proposals, for example in Act IV Scene 1: Rosalind: But come, now I will be your Rosalind in a more coming-on disposition; and ask me what you will, I will grant it. Orlando: Then love me, Rosalind. Rosalind: Yes, faith, I will, Fridays and Saturdays and all. In the play Shakespeare questions the rigid rules of society's wooing of that time, since he wrote the play with the idea of a traditional romance; (an archetype) a boy meets a girl, they fall in love, and marry happily ever after after overcoming several obstacles and misunderstandings. However, Shakespeare was forward thinking of his time, letting Rosalind orchestrate the wooing, which was very unconventional. As we can see from Act III Scene 4, Rosalind is a very strong and intelligent character, as she has tricked Orlando into wooing her, even though she is dressed as a man. She is also very witty, a characteristic she only feels able to express properly when she is disguised. She is perhaps the wittiest person in the play, apart from Touchstone, who is a professional comedian, after having been a fool or jester at the court for many years. ...read more.


Nowadays that is not true, and it is one of the only lines written by Shakespeare that does not transcend time. This is because Rosalind is now played by an actress, as acting is a very reputable profession. However, in 1599, the year the play was written, women were not allowed to become actresses. This inspires thoughts about the way women were and are treated, and how society has changed through time. In Shakespeare's time, women were supposed to be gentle, subservient, passive, etc. They were expected to marry, bear children, and raise them. They were constrained by society's rigid rules, especially women at court, like Celia and Rosalind, and had little freedom. Men had much more freedom, and could show their wit, intelligence and humour when they liked. However, it was seen as unfit for females to do the same. Even today, in modern countries in the western world, the two sexes are treated differently, but less so than in other countries such as Islamic ones. Women have more rights nowadays, and laws to protect those rights than in the 1600's. I think that Shakespeare has used the device of disguise very successfully, since he has not only added humour to the written play, but also through cross-dressing added humour. I think that I would have thought this play funny if I had the same sense of humour as people did then, and understood more of the puns and subtle jokes, that are typical of the Elizabethan times but are not found comical now. . ...read more.

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This is a good essay which shows evidence of wider reading and research into social and historical context.
Quotes are included to support comments.
More topic sentences are needed and in places the structure of the essay needs to be more logical.

Marked by teacher Katie Dixon 16/07/2013

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