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As You Like It Transformation Quotes

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

Quote #1

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)

Rosalind transforms into a man by disguising her height with manly accessories, yet it is likely she will look the same. This transformation is not one of just outward appearances; Rosalind changes her persona.

Quote #2

Something that hath a reference to my state:
No longer Celia, but Aliena. (1.3.134-135)

Both of Rosalind's transformations are made out of need—she needs to leave the comfort of the court, and she must dress as a man to protect Celia and herself on their travels to Arden. Celia's transformation, by contrast, is entirely of her own choosing. She chooses to be alienated from her home, and later claims that she goes not to banishment, but liberation. It is clear Celia does not take this as seriously as Rosalind.

Quote #3

And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining schoolboy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything. (2.7.149-173)

Jaques' famous speech suggests that our lives are nothing more than a series of transformations: 1) puking infant; 2) whining school boy; 3) young, sighing lover; 4) soldier; 5) "justice" or upstanding leader; 6) silly old man who thinks he's still young ("pantaloon"); 7) super-old man, toothless, blind, and as helpless as a baby. Is this an accurate or even useful way to sum up human life?

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