The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0546 Thursday, 29 October 2009
From: Arnie Perlstein <
Date: Wednesday, 28 Oct 2009 17:43:33 -0400
Subject: AYL: Rosalind and Orlando 4.1
"There appears to be some coherent design to Rosalind's lesson in Act
IV, scene I. We notice a back-and-forth play between the shrewish,
stand-offish woman and the playfully flirty woman, which may be meant to
mark the progression of a courtship."
I went to see the Troilus & Cressida production at the Globe this summer
just past, and it was in watching it that I realized the strong
resonance between the oscillating Rosalind in AYL 4.1 and the
oscillating Cressida in T&C 3.2, in particular the following lines
spoken by Cressida, which was acted amazingly and schizophrenically well
by the actress who played her, channeling Steve Martin from All of You
(or maybe Steve Martin was channeling Cressida?). Surely this is not an
accidental resonance, but Shakespeare meant those who know both plays to
see it and think about what it means:
Hard to seem won: but I was won, my lord,
With the first glance that ever -- pardon me --
If I confess much, you will play the tyrant.
I love you now; but not, till now, so much
But I might master it: in faith, I lie;
My thoughts were like unbridled children, grown
Too headstrong for their mother. See, we fools!
Why have I blabb'd? who shall be true to us,
When we are so unsecret to ourselves?
But, though I loved you well, I woo'd you not;
And yet, good faith, I wish'd myself a man,
Or that we women had men's privilege
Of speaking first. Sweet, bid me hold my tongue,
For in this rapture I shall surely speak
The thing I shall repent. See, see, your silence,
Cunning in dumbness, from my weakness draws
My very soul of counsel! stop my mouth.
And shall, albeit sweet music issues thence.
Pretty, i' faith.
My lord, I do beseech you, pardon me;
'Twas not my purpose, thus to beg a kiss:
I am ashamed. O heavens! what have I done?
For this time will I take my leave, my lord.
Your leave, sweet Cressid!
Leave! an you take leave till to-morrow morning, --
Pray you, content you.
What offends you, lady?
Sir, mine own company.
You cannot shun Yourself.
Let me go and try:
I have a kind of self resides with you;
But an unkind self, that itself will leave,
To be another's fool. I would be gone:
Where is my wit? I know not what I speak.
Just in case we miss the strong resonance between AYL 4.1 and T&C 3.2, I
just realized that Shakespeare made sure to underline the connection
when Rosalind's virtually first words to Orlando are:
The poor world is almost six thousand years old, and in all this time
there was not any man died in his own person, videlicit, in a
love-cause. Troilus had his brains dashed out with a Grecian club; yet
he did what he could to die before, and he is one of the patterns of
So we are being signaled here very explicitly that Rosalind is going to
be channeling the love-schizo Cressida from there on in, and sure
enough, Shakespeare delivers.
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