The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0066  Monday, 15 January 2001

From:           Don Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 10 Jan 2001 13:07:42 -0600
Subject: 12.0054 Re: Orlando
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0054 Re: Orlando

Edmund Taft writes:

>When Orlando and Charles first enter they are naked from the waist up
>(or they soon take off their shirts and show their pecs).  Orlando shows
>courage and then performs right in front of Rosalind and defeats
>Charles, all the while his muscles gleaming with sweat.  Rosalind thinks
>of Hercules before his victory, and after, she exclaims, "O excellent
>young man!"
>Now, Don, you can intellectualize this if you must, but the initial
>basis for Rosalind's attraction is clear!  It's the same as when an
>eighteen-year-old male goes to the beach and sees a girl in a bikini
>play volleyball: "Va-va voom!"

Sorry, Ed, but I remain unpersuaded. I don't think women are motivated
as much by physique as we are (note that I said *as much*), and that
kind of Va-va-voom motivation has only incidentally to do with love
anyway. Many fall in love where the Va-va-voom factor is negligible.

In fact, the first motivation that Shakespeare shows is the maternal:
for the two girls, and the jester, as well, find pitiable Le Beau"s
story of Charles giving apparently mortal injuries to all three sons of
the old man.  Similarly, when the two wrestlers enter, the girls react
with fear for him -- for his youth and lesser size compared to the
"strong fellow" Charles. At what point the two wrestlers take their
shirts off is not indicated in the text, but it seems quite clear from
the dissuasions of the girls that Orlando appears notably smaller in
size than the professional. It is when Orlando-despite his youth and
disadvantage in bulk-answers them in naturally gracious terms, goes
ahead with his challenge despite their pleas, and shows prowess, as well
as courage and coutliness, that Rosalind falls in love with him.

Actually, the fault I have to guard against is a propensity for
romanticizing, not intellectualizing, Shakespeare, especially plays like
this one. I have been half in love with Rosalind now for more decades
than I like to count.


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