Rosalind in As You Like It: Character Analysis, Monologue & Quotes

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  • 0:00 Who Is Rosalind?
  • 0:29 Character Analysis
  • 3:33 Rosalind's Monologue
  • 5:50 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Debbie Notari
Expert Contributor
Jenna Clayton

Jenna received her BA in English from Iowa State University in 2015, and she has taught at the secondary level for three years.

In Shakespeare's play 'As You Like It,' the character Rosalind is an example of ingenuity, good humor, and patience. She also proves to be a truly loyal friend. In this lesson, we will learn more about this admirable heroine.

Who Is Rosalind?

In Shakespeare's play As You Like It, Rosalind is the daughter of the banished Duke Senior whose brother, Duke Frederick, has usurped his rightful throne. Soon after, Duke Frederick banishes Rosalind, too. However, his own daughter, Celia, escapes with Rosalind to a cottage on the edge of the Forest of Arden. Through her wisdom and wit, Rosalind not only survives but thrives through her difficulties.

Character Analysis

The first good character trait Rosalind displays is her obvious humble spirit. She demonstrates this through her loyalty to her cousin Celia. Her father has just been exiled, and yet Rosalind is willing to stay in order to be a companion to her cousin. Rosalind must have felt torn between the father she loves and the uncle who cheated him out of his throne, but she doesn't show any bitterness. Rosalind and Celia have been inseparable since they were very young. Rosalind accepts this role, regardless of her own deep sadness over her father's banishment. She does admit her feelings to Celia in Act I, but resolves to forget the condition of her [estate], to rejoice in [Celia's]' (1.2).

Clearly, Rosalind's wit is sharp. She proves herself to be a fun companion, cousin, and friend to Celia. In the beginning of the play before the banishment, both girls tease about the enigma that women are either beautiful and loose, or unattractive and honest, and wonder why women can't be both honest and beautiful. In addition, both girls have great fun finding and reading the love notes to Rosalind hanging from tree branches in the Forest of Arden, not to mention the 'schooling' Rosalind gives to Orlando.

Rosalind also demonstrates both wit and ingenuity when she decides to disguise herself as Ganymede, a young gentleman. She escapes with Celia, who is disguised as a shepherdess. Rosalind's disguise is so good, that she even fools her father, who she meets later in the forest.

Again, we see her selfless nature as the girls and Touchstone (the court jester) journey towards the Forest of Arden. Rosalind is extremely weary, but her new role as Ganymede helps her keep her focus off her own problems. She says, 'I could find in disgrace my man's apparel and to cry like a woman; but I must comfort the weaker vessel, as doublet and hose ought to show itself courageous to petticoat: therefore courage, my heart to good Aliena!' (2.4). Regardless of her own weary discomfort, Rosalind takes her eyes off of her own feelings and focuses on the needs of others.

Rosalind decisively buys the cottage at the edge of the woods. Banishment may have disillusioned someone of lesser strength, but Rosalind takes charge and makes the best of a very difficult situation. She finds shelter and food for herself and her companions.

It is not clear why Rosalind maintains her disguise as long as she does in the play, but perhaps it is the disguise that provides her with the opportunity to test Orlando and see if he truly loves her. She definitely possesses strength of character to be able to keep up this guise in the presence of someone she really loves. She also demonstrates patience. It would have been so easy for her to reveal herself to Orlando sooner than she does, but she waits until the time is right. Finally, she organizes a quadruple wedding for Celia, herself, and two other couples in the middle of a forest, which cannot have been an easy task.

Rosalind's Monologue

Rosalind ends the play with this monologue:

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Additional Activities

The Character of Rosalind from As You Like It

Monologue Writing Activity

For this activity, there are two main parts to complete. Below you will find the tasks needed to complete the assignment. Make sure to complete the following tasks in the same order as presented.

Part 1: Analysis and Summary

  • Read Rosalind's monologue at the end of As You Like It.
  • Analyze the monologue, and determine the meaning of Rosalind's words.
  • Summarize the meaning of her monologue in 2-3 paragraphs.

Part 2: Rewrite the Monologue

  • Paraphrase Rosalind's monologue one sentence at a time.
  1. When you paraphrase, transform Shakespeare's more complex language into common everyday language that you would use today.
  2. After you have rewritten the monologue, write a brief description explaining how the message of Rosalind's monologue connects with the character traits that she displayed earlier in the play.

Example of how to re-write a section of Rosalind's monologue (Part 2):

The original sentence: I charge you, O women, for the love you bear to men, to like as much of this play as please you.

Rewritten sentence: Ladies, I hope you enjoyed the play. If you didn't, that is fine, too.

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