Shakespeare: It Analytical Paper

BBC Television Shakespeare’s: As You Like It, was released in 1978. This was a screenplay written by William Shakespeare. In Lecture 9: Sex and Genderbending, we learned that Crossdressing was written into the script to tackle the issue of “Performing” masculinity in the play. Genderbending was an occasional theme in Shakespeare’s plays. This film tells the story of Rosalind, who disguises herself as a man on a mission to find her banished father, Duke Senior, in the forest of Arden because she was banished as well.

Shakespeare stretches the concept of gender and sexuality in this film. Rosalind cross-dresses to teach Orlando how to love a woman and uphold his gender roles of love and honesty.

In a Scholarly criticism of Shakespeare’s screenplay “As you like it,” This article addresses the issue of gender and sexuality in this film. Valerie Traub helps us grasp of a better understanding of Rosalind’s character. In the film, Rosalind is playing a man named Ganymede, who is playing a women name, Rosalind.

In the film Rosalind experiences and receives sexual desires from both genders. Valerie Traub explains in her analysis that Rosalind blurs gender and sexuality lines specifically with regards to Phoebe. Phoebe falls in love with Ganymede. Valerie Traub explains that this desire is heteronormative, as she understands Rosalind to be a male. Traub states “What attracts Phoebe is, in fact, the femininity of Ganymede. She describes ‘him’ as ‘pretty’ and ‘the best thing in him/ is his complexion. Phebe also states that “ Ganymede will make a proper man.

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” This relationship stresses the ultimate difference between gender and sexuality within the play.

Valerie Traub states that “Phoebe is ‘normative’ in her desire for someone of the male gender and she likes him because he is a challenge but, yet her sexuality crosses the line with her attraction to the feminine aspects of Ganymede.” Furthermore, Orlando is fooled into thinking that Ganymede is a male based off of the way he acts. Jill Dolan states in ‘Theatre and Sexuality,’ ‘The behavior we consider masculine is learned, not inevitable, and can be adopted by anyone(Dolan 63).” And this is exactly what Rosalind does in the film. She starts off by trying to show her masculine strength by caring a boar spear and curtal axe. Furthermore, Orlando was willing to except Ganymede as a substitute for his Rosalind. This could imply that he was either bisexual or that Ganymede reminded him of Rosalind. Additionally, this film also examines how men have power. And how being a man gives you a certain level of respect. During this time in history, women were submissive to their husbands.

By Rosalind dressing up as a man she was able to teach Orlando how she wanted to be treated and express her needs. She was able to say how she really felt, if she was a woman, she may have withheld her true feelings. In Scene IV. The Forest of Arden. Rosalind implies her stereotypes of how men should be. She is under the assumption that men aren’t supposed to cry or show emotion because that is not a form of masculinity. During the ladies long walk into the forest, Rosalind begins to get tired and weary. At this moment Rosalind is disguised as a male name Ganymede, and Celia is now Aliena. Rosalind then states, ‘I could find in my heart to disgrace my man’s apparel and to cry like a woman; but I Most comfort the weaker vessel, as a doublet and hose ought to show itself courageous to petticoat.”

When we think of gender and sexuality, we think that men should behave a certain way and women should behave in a different way, unless you are a feminist. Due to this, Rosalind feels like showing emotions is a form of weakness that only women are allowed to do. This falls in line with what we learned in Lecture 3. Rosalind is trying to do her best to perform gender. We associate certain behavior with particular genders. Rosalind associates strength with being a man when she says she must be courageous. Furthermore, throughout the film, Celia states things like “Tears do not become a man.” And when Rosalind faints from the idea of Orlando being hurt, Oliver states, “ Be a good cheer, youth; you a man! You lack a mains heart. “This is also reiterating the idea that men should not show emotion because emotion is feminine.

While watching BBC Television Shakespeare’s: As You Like It, I feel like gender and sexuality was definitely blurred. Orlando’s willingness to allow Ganymede to play Rosalind, lead me to believe that he was bisexual. Especially when he leaned in for a kiss when they were getting ready to talk about marriage. In this day in age, a man won’t even call another man handsome, or pretty because he fears that this will make him seem gay. In Shakespeare’s film, Orlando not only calls Ganymede pretty but role plays. I find that is sort of odd and suspicious if that scene were to be done in real life. This led me to believe that Orlando is either secure in his sexuality, or that he may have fallen in love with Ganymede if she were truly a man and he never got to be with Rosalind. Also, the love connection between Orlando, Ganymede, and Phebe made me think of transgender relationships. Phebe fell in love with Ganymede because she thought she was a man, but when she found out he was a female at the end of the film she would not marry her. I just found that interesting.

I feel like the film does not really address Orlando’s sexuality and what really happens with Ganymede clearly to Orlando. Even though the play ends with four heterosexual pairs we don’t know if Orlando truly knows the truth. Ganymede says that by magic she will bring Rosalind to Orlando. And in the end, Rosalind comes to Orlando and marries him. Is Orlando just accepting of the fact that he was lied to or does he not realize what happened? I Feel like the film ended abruptly. Also feel like the film could have addressed homosexuality. Phebe was not attracted to the person she married but, yet she was attracted to Ganymede who was actually a female. Phebe could have in fact been queer, Shakespeare could have labeled Phebe as bisexual or even not gave her a label at all. This would have definitely given the film a plot twist at the end.

For my production proposal, I would like to modify the ending scene. When Rosalind reveals herself, Phebe should want to marry her. Although her outer appearance is different, she still remains the same person. I want Phebe to be presented as a bisexual because bisexuals are a part of the LGBT Community and are portraying these minority groups on film this helps the general public acknowledge, relate, to and understand a group they might not interact with their day to day lives. Bisexuality acknowledges that human sexuality is more complex than having romantic and sexual attractions for one gender. Shakespeare’s film ‘As you like it,’ should be remade in modern times. There was a lack of gay characters prior to the late 1960s. And although William Shakespeare played with queer themes, in ‘As you like it.’ This was left for the audience to interpret versus him just saying it directly.

This film should be remade in a big city such as California, Chicago, Georgia, which is home to one of the LGBT populations. The character who plays Rosaline will go through more extreme measures to make herself look like a man. She should have a mustache attached, bushy eyebrows attached, and her hair pinned up so that she can wear a wig to give the appearance of short hair. She should also have male appropriate clothing on such as baggy pants and a loose shirt to lessen the appearance of her female features. Instead of Ganymede disappearing and then reappearing as Rosalind. In this Scene in front of everyone. Ganymede will remove his beard and eyebrows. Take off his wig and unpin her hair. So that her long hair will appear voluminous and flowy. In this scene, she will do a hair flip. She will also remove her baggy loose shirt and expose her bra that shows her large boobs, which were once hidden.

I feel like this would be more a shock to the audience. Because now Phebe would have to address if she can still love this woman that she claimed she loved at first sight. Also, a scene that should be altered should be one of the roleplay scenes between Orlando and Ganymede. When Orlando leans in for a kiss, Ganymede shall proceed. This will then raise the question of Orlando’s sexuality. I feel like that this will help some members of the audience who may have fallen in love with a transgender woman and reassure them that this is okay. It raises the question of what is more important who a person is now or whom they use to be. I feel like movies should address the social issue going on in that time period, and transgender relationships are one of the things that are new that are going on today.

Going back to the scene I wrote about in my close reading when Rosalind’s male role begins to break down when she begins to get weary from her walk in the forest and when she faints at the sight of Orlando’s ‘bloody napkin’. We should allow her to break down and cry even though she is supposed to be a man. This way we don’t confirm the stereotype that men can’t show emotion. Also, there is this idea that fainting is an as feminine response. However, by creating this idea that men can’t be emotional this is unhealthy and can be detrimental to a man’s health. If a man feels like he can never show how he truly feels this can lead to depression, even suicide. Crying should not be a form of weakness. crying helps you release the suppressed emotions that you’ve been dealing with unconsciously. In my illustration, is a picture of Barack Obama crying.

This was the president of the United States. Although a picture was captured of the most powerful man in the world, nothing changed. He was still the president after this picture was taken. His masculinity did not alter. He still continued to Protect, run and serve the country. This is a testament that it is okay to cry because it does not change who you are or make you any less of a man because of it. Barack Obama Crying On the left is Amanda Bynes disguised as a man and on the right is her as women. This is how I want the character in my as you like it remake to look like. Overall As You Like It was a well written Shakespeare film using cross-dressing to blur gender roles and address the stereotypes of gender.

Gender roles are explored and exploited; for example, Rosalind masquerades in the play as a man with whom a woman falls in love with and whom a man allows to pretend that he (she) is his woman love in order that he may practice wooing. In this film, the characters can expand beyond their socially restricted gender roles. In my proposed remake, Rosalind will appear to look more like a real man. Orlando will cross the line with Ganymede to intensify the plot twist at the end. This will cause Orlando to explore his own sexuality and determine could he have been attracted to a man. Also, in the revealing scene at the end, Rosalind’s true self will be revealed more drastically, and Phebe will have to determine can she love a man, since she cannot love the man who wants to love her. Phebe can propose marriage to Rosalind which results in a new question of everyone’s sexual identities.

Work Cited

  1. Traub, Valerie. Desire and Anxiety: Circulations of Sexuality in Shakespearean Drama.
  2. London: Routledge, 1992. Print.
  3. Traub, Valeria. “Rosalind: A Bolster of the Gender Binary.” Exploratory Shakespeare, Dartmouth Folklore Archive, 2018
  4. Dolan, Jill. Theatre & Sexuality. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

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Shakespeare: It Analytical Paper. (2021, Dec 29). Retrieved from

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