Attitudes Toward Love and Marriage in As You Like It
Nearly every character in Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” has a marked opinion on love and marriage which ranges from the romantic Orlando to Ganymede who is quite skeptical of love and endeavors to “rid” Orlando of his petty infatuation for Rosalind. Touchstone, who has what I consider the most unique view on love and marriage put forth in the play, makes his views known in a speech concerning faith and his indifference thereof. He believes that marriage serves as a sign of honor and respectability rather than love – he gives the explanation “as a walled town is more worthier than a village, so is the forehead of a married man more honorable than the bare brow of a bachelor.” He is also of the opinion that unfaithfulness is inevitable as evidenced by the section of his speech in which he proposes that: “A man may, if he were of a fearful heart, stagger in this attempt; for here we have no temple but the wood, no assembly but horn-beasts. But what though? Courage! As horns are odious, they are necessary. It is said, many a man knows no end of his goods:’ right; many a man has good horns, and knows no end of them. Well, that is the dowry of his wife; 'tis none of his own getting. Horns? Even so. Poor men alone? No, no; the noblest dear hath them as huge as the rascal.” Marriage in his eyes is merely a physical convenience as he hints in the line “Well, praised be the gods for thy foulness! sluttishness may come hereafter.” This cynicism might be a symptom of the life of an observer of the court while never truly belonging there. One gets the impression through his speech, occupation, and mannerisms that Touchstone may not have been born of noble blood, but rather adopted into the court as a fool. Such a life would have given him ample justification for distrust, disdain, and, most importantly, as a result of his lack of a sense of belonging, bitterness. Rosalind, or Ganymede, displays a duality vital to her...
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