home contact

The Shakespeare Sisterhood: Rosalind

Rosalind, of all her "infinitely various" sisterhood, is most universally the pet, as combining in her single person qualities which appeal to all classes of men and women. She has wit to charm the intellectual; a fund of lively romance for the sympathetic; fresh beauty, and a hearty, ringing vitality, for the merely material; and store of tender, graceful, womanly virtues to delight the popular heart -- which, certainly, on such a subject, must be esteemed infallible.

Notwithstanding that the princess Rosalind was born and bred among the formal etiquettes of a court, and accustomed to the sumptuous luxury of ducal palaces, it is plain that she has pined and wilted in so artificial an atmosphere, till, casting it like a tiresome garment, she bounds, full of ardent, exuberant life, into the green midst of Arden. We cannot easily recognize our Rosalind in the languid court-lady of legitimate caprices and vapors, who "shows more mirth than she is mistress of;" nor ever in the meek victim of whom her uncle, the duke, draws this melancholy picture, impossible to a true conception of such a very madcap of animal spirits:
* * * * Her smoothness,
Her very silence, and her patience,
Speak to the people, and they pity her.
Rosalind smooth, and silent, and patient -- above all, pitied! Is there, in that, a trace of her spirited, self-reliant, voluble self? Could we not far more readily believe, of our gallant little Ganymede, that she had restored his lawful throne to her father by sheer dint of her wits, and her sure trick of reaching the hearts of "the people," than that they had simply looked on and pitied her?

Rosalind's character is made up of apparently irreconcilable attributes: she is endowed with exquisite sensibility, yet with ready, dazzling wit; she is intensely romantic, but without a sigh of sentimentalism; her heart is brimful of tenderness, while she conceals its dearest passion beneath a saucy, playful raillery, which would be giddy, were it not for its good sense, and acute insight into human nature. The more Orlando mopes, and grows "deject and wretched," under the teasing treatment of the fascinating Ganymede, the more ingenious is she in the contrivance of her pretty tortures, which every now and then reveal charming glimpses of the love-full heart under all.

How to cite this article:
Palmer, Henrietta L. The Stratford gallery, or, The Shakespeare sisterhood. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1859. Shakespeare Online. 20 Oct. 2009. (date when you accessed the information) < >.

Related Articles

 Elements of Shakespearean Comedy
 Portraits of Human Virtue: A Look at the Characters in Shakespeare's As You Like It
 Shakespeare's Second Period: Exploring Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet and the Histories
 Jaques in As You Like It
 Instruction Versus Deception: from Rosalynde to As You Like It
 Stage Rosalinds: The Trouble of Rosalind's Disguise in Shakespeare's As You Like It
 How to Pronounce the Names in As You Like It

 Shakespeare Quotations (by Theme)
 Quotations About William Shakespeare
 Why Shakespeare is so Important
 Shakespeare's Language
 Shakespeare's Boss: The Master of Revels

Previous: Lady Macbeth              Next: Cordelia

Rosalind. From A Stratford Gallery.