This paper is a analysis of an excerpt from the point of Rosalind's inquiry, ''Why, whither shall we go?''(1.3. 39).... to her conclusion of, "Now go we in content /To liberty, and not to banishment." (1.3. 44).
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Duke Frederick has ordered for the banishment of Rosalind from the court, and not even Celia, his daughter's plea to pardon Rosalind can make him change his mind. Rosalind and Celia are executing their escape plan to the forest of Arden. They plan to achieve this through disguising themselves. It is agreed that Rosalind will dress up like a man as she is slightly taller than Celia, who plans to dress like a dirty woman. She notes that, "I'll put myself in poor and mean attire." (1.3.42).
Rosalind agrees to take up the name Ganymede to match 'his' male gender. In the reading, she notes that, "I'll have no worse a name than Jove's own page/ And therefore look you call me Ganymede." The name Ganymede is an allusion of a young and handsome man who was Zenus' lover (Encyclopedia Mythica, 2012). Celia also picks a name for herself, "No longer Celia, but Aliena."(1.3.46). Her name alludes her current status as an alien or stranger on the run in search of freedom and liberty together with her friend.
The forest of Arden, their planned destination, indicates a symbolic value ascribed to a place of freedom and liberty. In earlier text reading, Charles mentions to Oliver that the old duke is also living in the forest of Arden, like the Robin Hood of England, accompanied by many other men. All those heading to the forest, including Rosalind, are from Duke Frederick's court, which symbolizes a confined environment that is more dictatorial. It is therefore a belief that the journey to the forest symbolizes the beginning of self awareness process that is full of happiness and fulfilment. Rosalind desires to find her way into freedom and liberty, most probably from the society that is embedded in deep male chauvinism. The text says, "Now go we in content /To liberty, and not to banishment." (1. 3. 44).
Through this excerpt, the theme of gender and its role in the society is also highlighted. Rosalind is worried about what will happen to them during the escape as they risked being kidnapped and raped. The reading highlights, "Alas, what danger will it be to us, Maids as we are, to travel forth so far! Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold." ( 1.3. 41). In order to avert impending danger, Celia comes up with an idea to put on dirty and less attractive clothes. Rosalind however, has a much better idea of disguising their gender through cross-dressing, an idea that Celia quickly embraces as brilliant. It is symbolic that Rosalind, taking a man's role is the one who comes up with the brilliant idea that was adopted and executed. It reflects men's role in the society as critical thinkers, creative, innovative, and excellent decision makers who set the guidelines for women to follow.
Rosalind's decision to disguise herself is a clear expression of her desire to be in control of her situation and future through attaining her own freedom. She defies the odds by pretending to be a man and acquiring temporary characteristics associated with men such as authority and confidence, while dismissing the popular notion that women are always the weaker, submissive, and voiceless gender. This is also an indication that the gender roles in the society can be reversed or changed to fit the situations that one may find him/herself in occasionally.
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