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The second scene brings the cousins, Celia and Rosalind, on the stage. The dialogue between the two confirms that they are charming and bound in close affection. Although neither young lady receives a central focus in the scene, before long it will be obvious that Rosalind is much more important to the play. In fact, before the delightful Rosalind, the figure of Celia pales almost into insignificance. Celia, however, is entertaining. When Touchstone, the court fool, enters, the two of them enter into a lively conversation. It is obvious that both of them are full of wit.
Celia is also a realist. She has no illusions about the wickedness of her father, Duke Frederick. As a result, it is easy for her to decide to leave with Rosalind for the forest when she is banished. Their devotion to each other emphasizes the importance of family love. Additionally, romantic love is introduced when Rosalind talks about falling in love for sport.
Ironically, the wrestling match further develops the theme of love. When Orlando defeats Charles in front of Rosalind, she is smitten by the charming young man. With a play on words, Rosalind tells Orlando that he has "overthrown" more than Charles. In romantic comedies, it is often the woman who initiates a love affair, as does Rosalind in this scene. It is also ironic that Rosalind has recently spoken about falling in love as a sport, but now she has fallen in love in earnest. Orlando is equally enamored with her; he admits to himself that he is also overthrown by Rosalind. It is love at first sight for both of them.
The theme of hatred is also further developed in the scene. At first Duke Frederick is charmed by Orlando; however, his attitude towards him changes when he finds out that he is the son of the deceased Sir Rowland, a man that he hated. It is also learned that the duke is jealous of Rosalind's noble qualities and popularity. As a result, he is planning on banishing her.
Shakespeare's masterful abilities as a playwright become obvious in this scene. He carefully balances the theme of love with the theme of hatred. He also masterfully develops the plot, drawing the key characters into the action at the appropriate time. He places Rosalind and Celia outside on the lawn so they will be nearby when the wrestling match between Charles and Orlando begins. As soon as the crowd gathers at the match, the two ladies are in a position to be drawn towards it
Shakespeare also shows his mastery of handling important information through conversation. It is reported that Charles has already had three wrestling matches. Since it would be tedious to show all of them on stage, the outcome of the matches is merely relayed by LeBeau. It is further learned that Charles has injured each of his opponents. Such news is intended to build suspense in the audience, who is made to wonder if he might indeed injure Orlando - or even kill him as Oliver has requested. The scene brings into sharp focus the capricious and ruthless nature of Duke Frederick. He is displeased with Rosalind because people praise her for her virtues. This is strikingly similar to the reason for which Orlando is hated by his brother. Oliver hates him for his noble qualities and for the way in which he is loved by all, just as Frederick resents Rosalind.
It is important to notice Orlando's mental frame of mind in this scene. Upset with his brother and his plight, he tells Rosalind and Celia that he is merely taking up space on earth and hints that the world would be better without him. Once he falls in love with Rosalind, however, his mood will be drastically altered, again proving the importance and value of love. Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version