As You Like It

Which Side of the Fence? Questioning Sexuality in As You Like It

In a romantic forest setting, rich with the songs of birds, the fragrance of fresh spring flowers, and the leafy hum of trees whistling in the wind, one young man courts another. A lady clings to her childhood friend with a desperate and erotic passion, and a girl is instantly captivated by a youth whose physical features are uncannily feminine. Oddly enough, the object of desire in each of these instances is the same person. In As You Like It, William Shakespeare explores the homoerotic possibilities of his many characters. At the resolution he establishes a tenuous re-affirmation of their heterosexuality. In this essay I will show how individual characters flirt with their homoerotic inclinations, and finally reject these impulses in favor of the traditional and socially accepted heterosexual lifestyle. I will explore male to male eroticism through the all-male court in the forest and through Orlando's attraction to Ganymede. I will inspect female to female attraction through Celia's attachment to Rosalind and through Phebe's instant attraction to the effeminate boy, Ganymede.

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In Duke Senior's forest retreat, Shakespeare creates a setting ripe with homoerotic potential. In the first lines Duke Senior speaks...

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