As You Like It

Love, Women, and Falsity College

William Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ deals with falsity on multiple levels, primarily as incurred by love, and inherent within women. As women are false, and love makes one act in a way that is false, love itself is feminized, linked inextricably to gender. To transcend gender is to transcend the bounds of love, or so Rosalind as Ganymede would have the reader believe. Yet there are two ways Ganymede’s insight might be read: firstly, that Rosalind is enlightened enough as a woman to behave as men do, which is to say, to condemn women for their false natures, or, secondly, that her harsh judgement of women only proves that women are capricious creatures who feel no sense of loyalty or mercy to their own sex. It is Rosalind’s treatment of Phebe, however, that belies these judgments, showing this seeming falseness to be false in itself, or at the very least possessed of a deeper, more complex nature than Rosalind-as-Ganymede’s insights would seem to demonstrate.

Love, first and foremost, is characterized as a falsifying influence by both men and women, including Silvius, Touchstone, and Celia. As Silvius says to Ganymede, ‘If thou remember’st not the slightest folly / That ever love did make thee run into / Thou hast not lov’d’...

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