Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Writing for 30 May, As You Like It

Let us step up our game a little bit.  One page or so is fine.


What is the point of AYL 3.3?  How is Touchstone's "the truest poetry is the most feigning" (3.3.16) central to the play, and true generally?

Act 3 scene 3 which follows the side “love” story of Touchstone the clown and Audrey a countrywoman, acts as a foil to the ongoing romances between other characters. This scene is placed directly in the middle of the unfolding ploy created by Rosalind, disguised as Ganymede, with Orlando. It seems to interrupt the more romantic part of the play instead with something rather raunchy. Touchstone and Audrey’s relationship is not very conventional, and the wedding they were attempting to have then in there in the forest was not either. In this scene, Touchstone and Audrey go back and forth with insults, and for the most part, Audrey confuses them for compliments. Audrey is not impressed with Touchstone’s “features” and Touchstone refers to Audrey as ugly and a slut. Amongst all this, however, Touchstone says he wishes Audrey were poetical, which, again, she does do not understand. He explains saying, “the truest poetry is the most feigning, and lovers are given to poetry, and what they swear in poetry may be said as lovers they do feign.” In simpler terms, Touchstone is saying that poetry is very fake and frequently used by lovers, and in their poetry, they come up with a bunch of lies.
                To relate this scene back to the play as a whole, for one, we can see how Orlando, who claims to be very much in love with Rosalind, writes poetry, which he has put on display, attached to trees in the forest. Touchstone’s explanation of poetry works to discredit Orlando’s poetry as something that is not truthful. Touchstone may also be pointing out on a bigger scale, that love itself is not very truthful. Orlando and Rosalind met but once and instantaneously, they are both in love with each other. Rosalind, as Ganymede, creates an even greater lie in her disguised state with the man she claims to love. Within this, we eventually see that Orlando does not keep his promises that Ganymede/Rosalind created for the sake of showing his love, like showing up on time.
                Touchstone’s marriage to Audrey seems to be the “honest” one in the play despite the fact the play uses that word to represent chastity to which Audrey is not. Touchstone and Audrey both blatantly describe one another as unattractive yet they still intend to get married. Touchstone is warned about the imminent failure of their marriage and that likely, Audrey will be unfaithful, but he still wants to get married. At the very least, Touchstone takes the advice of Sir Oliver Martext and waits to get married by a priest in a church, in hopes of better omens for their marriage.

                The other romances are not nearly as honest. In the end, they all happen because of a trick Rosalind/Ganymede came up with for everyone to marry each other. Rosalind and Orlando do not know each other very much but nonetheless are obsessed with each other. Oliver and Celia have only just met but experienced love at first sight. Silvus wants to marry Phoebe but after being rejected and Ganymede/Rosalind scolds Phoebe for doing so, she then finds herself wanting to marry Ganymede instead. There is certainly a lot of poetry, or lies, surrounding the other marriages in the play.


AYL 3.5: Ganymede-Rosalind excoriates Phoebe, her sharpest line "Sell when you can, you are not for all markets" (60). What larger message does this line and scene have for the play?

In this scene, Silvius begs Phoebe to reconsider her harsh denouncement of his affections.  As per her nature, she ignores this request and proceeds to mock his words.  This interaction urges Ganymede/Rosalind to speak up on the behalf of Silvius.  She criticizes Phoebe’s severity by pointing out that she is no great beauty and would be lucky to obtain Silvius.  Then she compares her to the goods in a marketplace and explains that there are better products (women).  For this reason, Phoebe should be happy with what she can get and not attempt to have more than she deserves. 
            While this insult is directed at Phoebe, it can be seen as part of the overall message of the play.  Throughout the story, multiple people refuse to accept their current situations and as a result, conflicts evolve that nearly cause their lives to end up worse than before.  Like Phoebe, this is all because they believe they deserve more than what has been allotted to them at the time.  However, had they accepted their current situation in life than the major events of the play would never have happened.  It was because Oliver was jealous of his brother that he almost died at the hands of a lion in the forest of Arden.  Similarly, Duke Frederick nearly loses his daughter forever after usurping the throne and then banishing his niece Rosalind.  
            As these examples attest, Shakespeare is suggesting that people should be thankful for what they have.  Demanding more than is deserved will often result in less satisfaction than before.  Additionally, only after a person has changed their ways can he/she truly be happy.  The success of these transformations can also be seen when Oliver and Duke Frederick have their life altering encounters in the woods.  Only then were they able to truly be content, allowing the play to end happily.  


Ganymede-Rosalind's impromptu seminar on love for Orlando's benefit would seem counterintuitive, since she insists that no one has ever died for love (4.1.82-94) and then seems to wax misogynist, since Celia makes the remark about the bird and her nest (175-79). What is the point of this scene, and is Celia right?

I am going to be honest when I say I am just not 100% sure about this scene and what it is really coming across as saying, but I am going to try. The fact that Ganymede-Rosalind gives this seminar to Orlando but yet is really kind of going against everything she is saying the whole time left me rather confused. She starts off talking about how no one has ever died for love, but then gives two examples of Greek mythology people who died for love. Troilus, although he had his brains smashed out in battle, was in love. According to the foot note he was the lover of Cressida. After doing a little bit of research you will realize he was in this battle to be able to have her as his wife. Therefore he died for love. The next example she gives is Leander, who was the lover of Hero. The footnote tells us that he swam every night to visit her but in the end drowned. Ganymede-Rosalind makes the point to Orlando that Leander would not have died had he stayed in place, or rather at home, which may be true. But he did in fact die for love.
            Not only does she seem to be saying things that do not support her, she almost seems to be telling Orlando all the bad things that come with loving someone. The whole point for her going to Orlando is to convince him that he should follow his heart and give in to his feeling for Rosalind and help him learn to express himself, but then she is telling him all these awful things that happen to people who are in love. In the same time she is bashing on women, saying if it wasn't for them those Greek mythology people would still be alive. She is basically saying love will cause you to die. Therefore I feel like this scene is basically her making bad decisions and saying things that could affect her fate with Orlando. But in all this she is just having Orlando pretend that she is Rosalind, and she is rejecting him. But yet I am still confused how this is going to help Orlando.
            The part with Celia, however, does confuse me. She seems to be telling Rosalind that everything she said about love being bad is wrong, but all at once I am not sure that is how I am too take this scene. While I think that is the purpose, I could be out of context. At this point Celia seems to be getting angry at Rosalind for the way she portrayed herself. I would agree that she did not do so well as acting the part and building Orlando’s confidence.


Orlando arrives in AYL 4.3, and he seems to be cured of his awfulness! Huh? These things never happen in real life, do they? What does he say that seems to justify this miraculous conversion?

When Oliver arrives in the forest in 4.3, his demeanor is surprising. Based on the way the audience saw Oliver treat Orlando in Act 1, they might expect him to enter the scene heated and aggressive, ready to hunt down the younger brother he resents. Instead, Oliver’s manner is mild, and at Orlando’s request, he is seeking the boy who has been roleplaying as Rosalind with him. Oliver explains to Rosalind and Celia that his miraculous change of heart came about because Orlando saved him from a lioness. He was sleeping on the ground, and she was lying nearby, eyeing him, ready to attack if he should stir. Though Orlando turned his back twice, his kindness and good nature ultimately won, and he defended his sleeping brother from the lion, and suffered an injured arm for it. Oliver is ashamed of his old attitude, but is glad for his conversion, which “so sweetly tastes,” (4.3.136).

n reality, such an extreme reversal is unlikely. However, that Orlando should happen upon the opportunity to demonstrate his innate nobility and save his brother is a contrivance not outside the realm of possibility for Shakespeare. Indeed, the “life-debt” trope is relatively common in western literature—a protagonist finds himself presented with an opportunity to save the life of an opposing character, does so, and as a result the opposing character is endlessly grateful and indebted to him. In this case, Orlando saves Oliver, and Oliver eschews his old contempt for him and agrees to deliver the bloody handkerchief to Rosalind with Orlando’s explanation for why he could not meet her.


How does Shakespeare resolve his plot complexities in the final scene (5.4). Why does he seem to think that Rosalind's Epilogue is necessary--in the persona of the boy actor playing her? "If I were a woman."

                        Shakespeare’s main objectives for act 5 scene 3 seem to be primarily focused on tying up the loose ends of the play. In this scene Shakespeare easily solves the complicated romantic entanglements through Rosalind as she manages to not only secure her own marriage to Orlando, but solves the issue of Phoebe and Silvius. As Ganymede, Rosalind promises that “Ganymede” shall marry Phoebe unless something occurs to cause Phoebe to change her mind. Of course minutes after this vow, she disappears and reappears as Rosalind once again causing Phoebe to realize that her love is actually a woman. This is strangely reminiscent of Olivia and Viola in twelfth night, whereupon realizing that Viola was a woman, Olivia transferred her affections to the nearest available male love interest.
            Nevertheless the love knot is solved and marriages between Rosalind and Orlando, Phoebe and Silvius, Touchstone and Audrey, and even Celia to Oliver take place. Shortly after the marriages take place the exile plot is tied up as it is revealed the Duke Fredrick had a religious revelation and has conveniently carted himself off to a monastery leaving behind his crown, his army, and even his own daughter. These are clean simple endings appropriate for a comedy, however Shakespeare seems to be focused on simply getting the play done and over with. 
            The final performance is done by Rosalind who gives the epilogue. This scene is interesting because it seems to break the fourth wall as Rosalind addresses the audience. She acknowledges that it is unusual for a woman to deliver the epilogue breaking the traditional theatrical customs in that day and age. She asks the audience to enjoy the play appealing to both the men and women individually. To the women she declares they like the play as much as possible, “for the love they bear to men”. To the men she breaks character essentially by saying if “she” were a woman she would kiss all the handsome men and beguile them into loving the play. This is of course in reference to the fact the Rosalind is indeed a woman. This break in character seems rather odd as clearly it is an attempt to make clear that as a man he would not kiss them since religiously that would be considered completely inappropriate in that day and age.
Yet Shakespeare does not seem to care at any other moment in the play when the men playing women were kissing the other men and making declarations of love to each other. Perhaps when it came to addressing the audience themselves Shakespeare felt that it was necessary to make this distinction in order to avoid offending anyone. Thus “Rosalind” completes her speech curtsies and exits thus ending the play. 

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