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Act III, Scene 5
This scene opens with Silvius pleading with Phebe for her love; when she does not respond, he says she is more stern than an executioner. Phebe, who feels neither love nor pity for Silvius, then orders him not to come near her and mocks his suggestion that her eyes have wounded him. Rosalind and Celia, still in their disguises, have been listening to their exchange. Finally Rosalind can stand it no more; she advances towards the couple and admonishes Phebe for being proud and pitiless. She tells her that she cannot possibly hope for a better spouse than Silvius, especially since she is no beauty. In the end, she tells Phebe she should kneel before Silvius and accept his love. If Phebe refuses, she warns Silvius that he should not follow after her any longer, pleading for her love.
As Rosalind, dressed as Ganymede, lectures the couple, Phebe begins to flirt with "him," thinking him very attractive and calling him "sweet youth;" she even says she may be in love with Ganymede. A concerned Ganymede (really Rosalind) warns Phebe not to fall in love with "him," for "he" is falser than vows made in wine.
Rosalind and Celia depart, leaving Phebe to dream about Ganymede. She decides she must write him a love note and have Silvius deliver it. She falsely tells Silvius that she is going to write a very angry letter to that peevish youth and hopes that he will deliver it for her. Silvius considers it an honor to do such a favor for his beloved.
Just as Rosalind felt snubbed by Orlando in the last scene, Silvius feels snubbed by Phebe in this one. As he tells her of his love and pleads for hers in return, Phebe tells him never to come near her. The sentiments of the wooing shepherd and the contempt of the woman he loves are intentionally exaggerated by Shakespeare to make a mockery of untrue love.
Rosalind, who has been watching the whole scene while still in disguise, cannot believe that Phebe is acting so callous and rude in matters of love. She interrupts the couple and pointedly tells the girl that she will never find a better husband than Silvius. She says she should kneel before him immediately and accept his love. Ironically, as "Ganymede" scolds Phebe, the country wench falls in love with the fair youth. It is humorous that she loves Ganymede, who calls her ugly, and scorns Silvius, who calls her sweet and beautiful. Shakespeare is pointing out that there is no logic in love, only emotion. A horrified Rosalind warns Phebe that Ganymede is false and cannot be trusted. She is also distressed that her efforts to make things better for Silvius have really made things worse.