As You Like It: Act 3, Scene 2 - Summary & Analysis

Also Read

ACT III. Scene II.


Introduction to the Scene

      It is a great scene in the play regard of dramatic climax and Love note. The mock wooing of Rosalind and Orlando is the point of absorbing interest. Does Orlando still love his Rosalind? The verses are a proof of this. Does Rosalind still retain her affection for Orlando? The conversation with Celia gives clear proof of this. Thus does Shakespeare skillfully prepare for the meeting of the lovers.

      The minor characters serve their parts. (1) These interludes give greater effect to the love scene. (2) Touchstone and Corin in their dialogue give a comparison between court and pastoral life. Jaques connects the forest life with the pastoral, and thus all these scenes of action, viz., court, wood and field are brought together.


Run, run, Orlando! carve on every tree
The fair, the chaste, and unexpressive she
(Act III, Scene II, Lines 10-11)

      The Duke Senior found books in the running brooks and sermons in stones, and Orlando changes trees to books of love. Orlando is carving Rosalind’s name and hanging love poems in her praise on the trees. He has invoked the moon-goddess who was worshipped in three capacities as (1) Proserpina, queen of the lower regions (2) Luna, queen of heaven and (3) Diana, queen of the chaste on earth-to cast her virtuous glance and approve of the name of Rosalind as one of her followers. Rosalind is compared to Diana, the ‘maiden huntress, chaste and fair.’

      Then Orlando, inspired by his own love, runs with all his speed and enthusiasm to engrave on the bark of every tree the name of his beloved Rosalind, the fair, the chaste and the unexpressive. This line depicts the character of Rosalind. She is a paragon of virtue. She is so pure and beautiful that she is beyond description. It is beyond the power of the words to describe the excellence and charm of Rosalind.

I was never so berhymed since Pythagoras's time, that
I was an Irish rat, which I can hardly remember.
(Act III, Scene II, Lines 1-4-186)

      When Celia asks Rosalind if she does not wonder that her name is hanged and carved upon the trees, Rosalind replies that the seven days of nine days of wonder are over. She has got over her feeling of surprise. Rosalind then shows Celia another poem that she had found on the palm tree. She then cuts a joke that since the days of Pythagoras (who taught the transmigration of soul) she was never so berhymed (killed, attacked, hurt by poetry) except once when she was (in some previous life) an Irish rat and was rhymed to death. She, however, does not remember the time when her soul had migrated into the Irish rat. There was a superstition of rhyming rats to death, i.e. killing rats by incantation (1) Pythagoras believed in the transmigration of soul. This Greek Philosopher of the sixth century B.C. taught that the souls of some animals pass at death into human bodies and some human souls migrate again into animals. (2) It-was a popular superstion in Ireland in Shakespeare’s time that the rats were killed by metrical charms. Cf. the description in Robert Browning’s pied piper of Hamelin (3) For a similar description of Pythagoras’ doctrine of transmigration of soul we should go to the Merchant of Venice where Shylock is called a wolf in human shape (4) Rosalind by speaking these lines tries to show that she is bored to death by the verse hanging on the trees but really speaking it is only her pose, and she is elated at praises being showered on her.

O lord lord! it is a hard matter for friends to meet: but mountains may be removed with earth-quakes and so encounter. (Act III, Scene II, Lines 192-194)

      When Rosalind assumes ignorance about the love of Orlando, Celia pooh pooh Rosalind. Celia says that persons should not feel surprised at the most strange and unexpected happenings in the world. Mountains may be removed from their place and hills may disappear thus bringing about impossible things. In the same way the most wonderful thing to happen in the forest of Arden was the appearance of Orlando.

      There is double meaning in ‘friends’. In Elizabethan times friends also meant a lover. Lovers are exposed to great difficulties before they can come closer to their beloved ones. Similar to the description of the mountains there is a proverb ‘Friends may meet, but mountains never greet’. Blake has written.

Great things are done when men and mountains meet
They are not done by scurrying on the street
One inch of delay more is a south-sea of discovery
(Act III, Scene II, Lines 204-205)

      Celia has aroused the curiosity and suspense of Rosalind by telling her that the young man, who is writing verse and hanging them on the trees, wears the chain which once belonged to her. The heart of Rosalind throbs and flutters at guessing her lover present in the forest. She requests Celia with most petitionary vehemence to tell her the name of the person. lt is not that Rosalind does not guess herself the name of the name of person. But she does not mention the name herself because first she feels shy in telling his name, and secondly, she wants her guess to be confirmed by the statement of Celia.

      Celia, on the other hand, is not ready to tell the name. She takes pleasure in teasing Rosalind and says that it is most wonderful that she (Rosalind) does not know the name. Then Rosalind admonishes her and says that, though she is dressed like a man, she is a girl and cannot have so much patience. She says that if Celia delays another minute in satisfying her curiosity and in removing her suspense, who will overwhelm her with an ocean of questions.

      “Perhaps therefore the purpose of Rosalind’s remark is:- another moment’s delay means that I shall set forth on a bound-less sea of conjectures and questions as to who the man is. It is also possible! think, that she means delay an instant more and I will start on voyage of discovery through the forest to find him’’ (verity). Your pause are so irritating that one inch of them is as hying as the whole of an exploration voyage in the south sea”

You must borrow me Gargantua’s mouth first:
It’s a word too great for any mouth of this age’s size. (Act III, Scene II, Lines 234-236)

      When at last Celia removes the suspense of Rosalind and tells her that the man who is writing love sonnets in praise of her and hanging them on the trees other than Orlando, her paramour, Rosalind gets curious and impatient to know all about him. In one word. She throws aside ten questions and asks Celia to reply them in whole volley of questions. Celia wants to tease her cousin. So she takes ‘one word literally and says that it is beyond her power of speech to reply all these questions in one word unless Garagantua, the giant, lends her his mouth.

      Garagantua is the voracious giant in the work of the French humorist-Rabelais. His mouth was large enough to devour six pilgrims.

      ‘Garagantua’ is an allegorical skit on the allowance accorded to princes for their maintenance. There was an English Translation of Rabelais in Shakespeare’s time but a cheap book history of Gargantua was very popular in the 16th century.

You are fall pretty answers, Have you not been acquainted
With goldsmiths wives, and conn’d them out of rings.
(Act III, Scene II, Lines 283-285)

      Jaques is melancholic and censorious and finds faults with everything. He finds fault with Orlando for having answered him like a true lover. Jaques thinks that such pretty answers cannot be his own. They must have been conned (learnt) from the mottoes inscribed on the rings. Jaques observes that Orlando’s familiarity with rings is certainly due to his familiarity with goldsmiths’ wives, and thus passes a cynical judgment on his morals without any knowledge. Goldsmith's Row in Cheapside was a famous resort for idle young fops.

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 punished and cured the lunacy is so ordinary that the whippers are in love too.
(Act III, Scene II, Lines 416-420)

      Rosalind is eager to know Orlando’s feelings and emotions for her. She wants that Rosalind herself should express his deep love. The best method for drawing out the confession of love from Orlando’s lips, Rosalind thinks, is to speak ill of love. Therefore when Orlando says that, ‘Neither rhyme nor reason can express it’ (his deep love) she makes the position of Orlando awkward by condemning love.

      Rosalind says that love is only a kind of madness and, like a mad man, a lover should be put into a dark cell and be whipped (should be imprisoned and punished). But the reason why they are not so punished is that this kind of madness is so common that even those who should punish, fall in love.

      Confinement in a dark room, and often in chains was an ordinary method of securing Elizabethan lunatics. This inhuman treatment continued till recently. Cf the treatment of Malvolio in Twelfth Night.

Previous Post Next Post