realism into the proceedings, further reinforced when, in response to his avowal of eternal love, she bids him:

"Say ‘a day’ without the ‘ever’. No no, Orlando, men

Are April when they woo, December when they wed;

Maids are May when they are maids, but the sky

Changes when they are wives." (IV.1.135-8)

His over-extravagant opinion that if reject he will die (IV.1.84) is also revealed to be an illusion. Parallel to this is the mockery of the old-style pastoral love as represented by Phebe and Silvius. Like Orlando, Phebe is schooled by Rosalind to accept reality.

In further contrast is the unromantic marriage of Touchstone (who is marrying for sex) and Audrey (who is marrying for respectability).

But despite all the mockery, Rosalind’s love for Orlando is shown to be sincere. We believe her when she proclaims to Celia:

"O coz, coz, coz, my pretty little coz, that thou didst

Know how many fathom deep I am in love! But it

Cannot be sounded: my affection hath an unknown

Bottom, like the Bay of Portugal" (IV.1.190-3)

The notion of romantic love is therefore endorsed without illusion.

Built into the structure of the play is also a critique of the basic assumptions of the romantic genre upon which it depends. However, As You Like It simultaneously upholds these illusions, even offering alternatives, even that of Jacques (ie not the marrying kind). These different perspectives serve to pre-empt and channel the audience’s scepticism so that the ending can be enjoyed by the romantic and the unromantic, the idealistic and the cynical, who can take the play and its romantic theme as they like it.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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