Rosalind lacks then the love Which teacheth thee that thou and I am one. Shall we be sundered? Shall we part, sweet girl? (1.3.102-104)
Cousins Celia and Rosalind are super-close and they're <em>always</em> professing how much they love each other, which prompts some audiences to wonder if there's something steamy going on here. Some literary critics just see a very close-knit female friendship here. Others describe the relationship as being "homoerotic" ("homoerotic" just refers to erotic emotions and desires that are directed toward a person of the same sex).
Act 2, Scene 4
Silvius and Phoebe
SILVIUS O Corin, that thou knew'st how I do love her! CORIN I partly guess; for I have loved ere now. SILVIUS No, Corin, being old thou canst not guess, (2.4.22-24)
Young Silvius assumes that, because Corin is old, he can't possibly understand what it feels like to be in love. Of course, Silvius is being silly and overly dramatic here, but this concept surfaces throughout Shakespeare's work. In Romeo and Juliet, for example, Juliet declares that her Nurse's old age prevents her from understanding the youthful urgency of her passion for Romeo:
Had she affections and warm youthful blood, She would be as swift in motion as a ball; My words would bandy her to my sweet love, And his to me. (2.5.1)
TOUCHSTONE And I mine. I remember when I was in love I broke my sword upon a stone and bid him take that for coming a-night to Jane Smile; and I remember the kissing of her batler and the cow's dugs that her pretty chopped hands had milked; (2.4.45-49)
In case you hadn't noticed, Touchstone has a sense of humor about his past experiences with country-style love, which apparently involved making out with Jane Smile, a girl whose hands were chapped from milking cows.
Act 3, Scene 2
ROSALIND Alas the day! what shall I do with my doublet and hose? What did he when thou saw'st him? What said he? How looked he? Wherein went he? What makes him here? Did he ask for me? Where remains he? How parted he with thee? And when shalt thou see him again? Answer me in one word. (3.2.223-228)
OMG! Rosalind can't wait to hear what Orlando's been up to when she finds out that he's not only in the forest, but that he's also been tagging up all the trees with poetry about her. Like we've said, even Rosalind, who's usually a calm and collected girl, is laid flat by love.
ROSALIND [as Ganymede] Love is merely a madness; and, I tell you, deserves as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do; and the reason why they are not so punish'd and cured is that the lunacy is so ordinary that the whippers are in love too. (3.2.407-411)
Rosalind really does believe love is a madness; she is not just speaking in jest here. One of her intricacies as a character is to admit that love is madness and still be perfectly happy to get caught up in it (something someone like Jaques could not do).
Act 3, Scene 5
Sweet youth, I pray you chide a year together. I had rather hear you chide than this man woo. (3.5.69-70)
Has Phoebe fallen in love with "Ganymede" or with Rosalind? It's not entirely clear and ultimately it probably doesn't matter because Rosalind eventually reveals her true identity and Phoebe marries Silvius. Still, the fact that Phoebe gets turned on by "Ganymede" draws our attention to the homoerotic possibilities of the play. The same-sex attraction at work here also recalls the intimate relationship between Rosalind and her cousin Celia.
Who might be your mother, That you insult, exult, and all at once, Over the wretched? What though you have no beauty—
As, by my faith, I see no more in you Than without candle may go dark to bed—
Oh, burn! When Phoebe acts like a snotty Petrarchan mistress, Rosalind is not having any of it. She even advises Phoebe to marry Silvius now while she can because nobody else will want her: "For I must tell you friendly in your ear,/ Sell when you can: you are not for all markets." Ouch.
Silvius and Phoebe
Sweet Phoebe, do not scorn me. Do not, Phoebe. Say that you love me not, but say not so In bitterness. The common executioner, Whose heart the accustomed sight of death makes hard, Falls not the axe upon the humbled neck But first begs pardon. Will you sterner be Than he that dies and lives by bloody drops? (3.5.1-8)
Uh-oh. It looks like we've got another pathetic Petrarchan lover on our hands when Silvius begs stuck-up Phoebe not to scorn him.
Act 4, Scene 1
ROSALIND [as Ganymede to Orlando] Come, woo me, woo me, for now I am in a holiday humor and like enough to consent. What would you say to me now, an I were your very, very Rosalind? ORLANDO I would kiss before I spoke. (4.1.72-76)
That Rosalind sure is a clever girl. Disguised as "Ganymede," Rosalind offers to help her crush Orlando practice his moves. Orlando takes up the offer—he pretends that "Ganymede" is Rosalind and woos "him." It's a little confusing, we know. Still, as critic Katharine Eisaman Maus points out, here, Orlando and Rosalind indulge in an "elaborate game of 'Let's pretend.'" By playing make-believe, Orlando and Rosalind can indulge in their fantasies without any consequences. They even have a pretend wedding—how sweet!
We also want to point out that Orlando's enthusiastic willingness to woo "Ganymede" raises the question of whether or not Orlando is attracted to "Ganymede." We never really know for sure, but Shakespeare definitely wants us to think about it.
Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love. (4.1.112-113)
Rosalind is a big, big fan of being in love, but she's also got a really good head on her shoulders, which makes her different than all the other foolish lovers in the play. When sappy Orlando declares that he'll just "die" if Rosalind doesn't love him, she quickly points out that he's being melodramatic. Here, she's also rejecting the silly pose of the Petrarchan mistress. (See Quote #10 above for more on this.)
I would not have my right Rosalind of this mind, for I protest her frown might kill me (4.1.14-15)
Say what? Rosalind's frown might "kill" Orlando? Not likely. Like Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Orlando acts like a typical "Petrarchan" lover when he falls in love with Rosalind. What the heck's a Petrarchan lover? A guy who mopes around sighing dramatically, moaning about the fact that his crush wants nothing to do with him, and reciting cheesy poetry about a girl who's got eyes like stars and lips like luscious cherries, and who fills men with icy-fire. The concept comes from the 14th-century poet Petrarch, whose sonnets were all about an unattainable mistress named "Laura" who went around stomping on men's hearts.