Phebe: Character Analysis in As You Like It

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      Phebe is a Shepherdess, indifferent toward Silvius, who is courting her, and falls in love with Ganymede instead. Though she agrees to marry Silvius.

      Phebe is a typical country coquette. She is first presented to us in all ‘The red glow of scorn and proud disdain.’ She heartlessly ridicules the humble advances of her love-sick swain. The contrast is instructive between scornful proud country coquette and the frank and unassuming princess. Phebe has her lesson to learn from the “sweet uses of adversity.” Poetic justice is performed on her, and she is made to suffer the penalty which she herself has inflicted upon Silvius.

      Phebe also suffers the pangs of unrequited love. She is made to feel the scorn of bright eyes of Rosalind. Her heart bums with a fruitless passion. “She now measures the pain of Silvius by her own passions, and deeply repents of her forwardness.” Then she feels the refining force of love. The change that comes over her is devoted in the following lines.

Silvius, the time was that I hated thee,
And yet it is not that I bear thee love
But since that thou can’st talk of love so well,
Thy company, which erst was irksome to me,
I will endure.
Having once learned by experience what love is
All made of passion and all made of wishes
All adoration, duty, and observance,
All humbleness, all patience and impatience
All purity, all trial, all observance.

      And when she is convinced of the hopelessness of her passion for Ganymede she readily transfers her affection to Silvius. She has a talent for dominating and her lover is a ‘tame snake,’ We hope that their marred life is happy.

      Phebe presents a contrast to Rosalind in personal appearance. She is depicted with silky black hair and eye brows, large black eyes, and cheeks of cream. She is the typical beauty of the dairy-maid type.

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