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As You Like It Gender Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to The Norton Shakespeare, second edition, published in 2008.

Quote #1

Thus men may grow wiser every day. It is
the first time that ever I heard breaking of ribs was
sport for ladies.
Or I, I promise thee.
But is there any else longs to see this broken
music in his sides? Is there yet another dotes upon
rib-breaking? Shall we see this wrestling, cousin? (1.2.131-137)

Touchstone doesn't think wrestling is a sport for "ladies" to enjoy. Yet, Rosalind is eager to see the rib-breaking wrestling match. So, even before she pretends to be Ganymede, Rosalind defies traditional gender roles because she refuses to act how one might expect a "lady" to behave.

Quote #2

Were it not better,
Because that I am more than common tall,
That I did suit me all points like a man?
A gallant curtal-ax upon my thigh,
A boar-spear in my hand, and in my heart
Lie there what hidden woman's fear there will, 
We'll have a swashing and a martial outside—
As many other mannish cowards have
That do outface it with their semblances. (1.3.121-129)

The fact that Rosalind can pose as a "man" by dressing like one and carrying weapons suggests that masculinity is merely a role to be played, rather than something that's inherent to one sex or the other. Yet, when Rosalind says she'll hide her "woman's fear," she seems like she subscribes to the idea that women are naturally fearful. At the same time, Rosalind also admits that there are many "mannish cowards" who merely pretend to be brave. So, fear is not limited to women alone, and thus bravery might not be limited to men alone.

Quote #3

What shall I call thee when thou art a man?
I'll have no worse a name than Jove's own page,
And therefore look you call me Ganymede.
But what will you be called? (1.3.130-133)

The name "Ganymede" would have been particularly significant to an Elizabethan audience because, in the 16th century, "Ganymede" was a slang term for a boy in a sexual relationship with another (older) man. This alerts us to the possibility that Orlando may be attracted to "Ganymede" as well as Rosalind.  

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