As You Like It

Call Me Rosalind: Gender and Gender Stereotyping in As You Like It

In the epilogue of As You Like It, Rosalind discusses the nature of real and performed gender identity in a final bid to resolve the gender confusion extant throughout the play. The events leading up to the epilogue make such resolution necessary, fraught as they are with the disguise of one's "natural" or off-stage gender and with the on-stage confusion of male and female roles. Though such confusion had its basis in theater practice in contemporary Shakespearean theater, the role of Rosalind was taken by a man many other layers of gender transformation exist within the play. For example, the male actor playing Rosalind acts the part of the male Ganymede opposite Orlando; in the role of Ganymede, he "pretends" to be Rosalind to cure Orlando of his love. When these intra-play transformations occur for example, when Rosalind the character dresses as the male Ganymede they shed light on the broader questions raised by gender transformation in the play. As the actors disguise their genders frequently, gender comes to seem arbitrary when performed, able to be shifted at will. As Rosalind says to Orlando, "I would cure you, if you would but call me Rosalind, and come every day to my cote, and woo...

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