Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Does Rosalind Woo Herself?

"Self-wooing, my liege, is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting."
The local teen group is performing As You Like It at our local library today, so I've been brushing up on the story. Since it's so common to make the Robin Hood connection with Duke Senior (going off to live in the safety of the forest, away from his enemies, enjoying life with his friends, etc..) I was wondering whether a comparison existed with another classic story, Cyrano De Bergerac.

For those not familiar with the story, Cyrano loves Roxanne but cannot bring himself to tell her his true feelings. She loves Christian, but Christian has no skill at poetry and is afraid to woo her, so Cyrano literally hides in the shadows and feeds Christian romantic things to say to her, effectively wooing Roxanne for himself, in Christian's name.

How does this compare to As You Like It?  Let's look.  Rosalind is dressed up as the boy Ganymede when she runs into Orlando. Orlando acknowledges that he loves the lady Rosalind, but does not have the kind of poetry to woo her. Rosalind, as Ganymede, tells him what to say to get the girl.

It's got some similarities -- Cyrano hiding in the bushes is very much like Rosalind hiding under the disguise of Ganymede.  "But!" Bardfilm points out, "Cyrano's intent was never to teach Christian how to woo Roxanne, but to win her himself."

This is true. But still, are they all that different? Rosalind has this idea of her dream man, and knows exactly what he will say and do to woo her.  Orlando is basically the mannequin in this story going through the motions of turning Rosalind's dreams into reality. She plays both the role of Cyrano and Roxanne, and Orlando is literally the middle man. She can't marry herself. She needs a man. So she turns Orlando into the man that she wants, without him ever realizing it.

I don't know, maybe it's a silly idea, but sometimes those are fun too.

1 comment:

Iona Cameron said...

I'd never really looked at it like that before, but looking back, i can certainly see where that idea comes from and I'm sure that in some performances it can definitely be exaggerated to be a main theme. In my personal opinion, in the way I look at it, I usually see that Rosalind is more teaching what love is to Orlando rather than making him the perfect man for her. As when she first sees him in the forrest, he is trying to serenade his Rosalind and he envisions her as a type of Goddess, he has her on a pedestal, but she knows that in love one can't do this as otherwise it becomes more an obsession rather than love and if they did get married when he was picturing her in this light, he would only be disappointed when she didn't live up to his exceedingly high standards.
And so when she comes across him in disguise she decides to show him what love with her would really be like, that it is harder and needs work but that it is also so worth while, indeed she does teach him what to say, but more because he has never felt that way before and just doesn't understand how to form it in words. By the end she teaches him that they should always be equals in love and so when she reveals herself to him, that is how they are in marriage - equals.
At least, that is how I see it.