Rosalind (As You Like It)
Rosalind by Robert Walker Macbeth
|Play||As You Like It|
Duke Senior (father)
She is the beautiful daughter of the exiled Duke Senior and niece to his usurping brother Duke Frederick. Her father is banished from the kingdom which breaks her heart. She then meets Orlando and falls in love with him. After angering her uncle, she leaves his court for exile in the Forest of Arden. Disguised as a shepherd named Ganymede, Rosalind lives with her sweet and devoted cousin, Celia (who is disguised as Ganymede's sister, Aliena), and Duke Frederick's fool Touchstone. Eventually, Rosalind is reunited with her father and married to her faithful lover, Orlando.
Rosalind is one of Shakespeare's most recognized heroines. Admired for her intelligence, quick wit, and beauty, Rosalind is a vital character in "As You Like It." Most commonly seen next to her beloved cousin Celia, Rosalind is also a faithful friend, leader, and schemer. She stays true to her family and friends throughout the entire story, no matter how dangerous the consequences. Rosalind dominates the stage. Her true decision-making skills can be seen in the last scene of Act V (5) where she has to present herself as Rosalind to her father and to Orlando, but at the same time change Phebe's opinion to marry Silvius. She is the main character of the play who extracts the clarity of important traits in other characters.
Art and stage depictions
Rosalind has been played by various notable actresses including Elizabeth Bergner in a 1936 film opposite Laurence Olivier as Orlando, Vanessa Redgrave rose to fame playing the part in 1960 with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Helena Bonham Carter in the 2000 BBC Radio 4 version, Helen Mirren in the 1978 BBC version of the play directed by Basil Coleman, and Bryce Dallas Howard in the 2006 production directed by Kenneth Branagh.
American actress Patti LuPone played the role at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, after her award-winning portrayal of Eva Peron in the original Broadway run of Evita. This caused much speculation because LuPone was leaving the Broadway stage and moving to "regional" work.
Adrian Lester won a Time Out Award for his performance as Rosalind in Cheek by Jowl's 1991 production of As You Like It. A male actor in the role (as would have been the norm in Shakespeare's time) underlines the confusion of gender roles within the play: at one point, a male actor is playing a woman who is pretending to be a man acting the part of a woman.
Source of the Name
Rosalynde is the heroine of Lodge's Euphues' Golden Legacy. 'Faire Rosalind' had, however,at this time, acquired a fresh poetic fame as the object of Spenser's attachment, celebrated in his Shephearde's Calendar, 1579, and Colin Clouts Come Home Againe, 1595. 'Of all the sweet feminine names compounded from Rosa, that of Rosa-linda seems to be the most elegant, and therefore most befitting that particular character of ideal beauty which the dramatist here assigns to his imaginary princess.
Ganymede, the name she assumes in her disguise as a forest youth, is that of 'Jove's own page' (I, iii, 127), the most beautiful of all mortals, son of Tros and Callirrhoe, chosen by Jupiter to be his cup-bearer, and to dwell among the gods as his chosen servant.