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Orlando de Boys
Orlando, Oliver's younger brother and Sir Rowland de Boys youngest son, is one of the protagonists of the play. He is an attractive and noble young man who is "enchantingly beloved" by everyone except Oliver, who is jealous of his brother. Because of Oliver's jealousy, Orlando has not been given his rightful inheritance or experienced a real education. In spite of the deprivations, he is "gentle, never school'd and yet learned." Throughout the play he proves himself to be modest, kind, and unselfish. Additionally, he is brave and strong, as proven by his overpowering the lioness and winning the wrestling match with Charles.
Because he does not want to share his wealth with Orlando, Oliver attempts to have his younger brother killed. In order to save himself, Orlando escapes to the Forest of Arden; however, he is later willing to risk his own life to save Oliver when he protects him from the lioness. In a similar manner, Orlando watches over and cares for Adam, his old faithful servant. When Adam is tired and can walk no more, the master carries him. Orlando also goes to find the servant food to eat.
Shakespeare mainly presents Orlando as a young man in love. He is "overthrown" emotionally by Rosalind the first time he meets her - at the wrestling match with Charles. When she presents him with a necklace, a token of her own affection for him, he is hopelessly smitten. While he is in the Forest of Arden, he yearns to see her again. To express his love, he writes verses about Rosalind, hangs them in the trees, and carves her name into the bark. He is so love-sick that he falls pray to Ganymede's offer of a love cure. Rosalind, in disguise, pretends to be the real Rosalind, and Orlando pretends to woo her. Both the audience and Rosalind enjoy knowing that an unaware Orlando is really courting the woman he loves. In the end, Rosalind presents herself without disguise, and Orlando marries her on the same day. In Orlando, Shakespeare has created an ideal young knight, endowed with all the virtues; he is really the hero of the play.
Rosalind, the daughter of Duke Senior, is a noble young lady of charm and vitality. Although she misses her father, who is in exile during the play, she has remained at court to be the companion to Celia, her cousin and best friend. In the beginning of the play, she seems somewhat sad, and Celia encourages her to be more merry. Later in the play, her wit and liveliness come forth.
Before she ever meets Orlando, Rosalind has talked to Celia about love. She says she wants to fall in love, even if in sport. However, when she sees Orlando at the wresting match, she falls deeply in love. When she is banished from the dukedom by Duke Frederick she is saddened to think about leaving Orlando behind; however, she takes Celia with her to the forest. In order to be safer, they disguise themselves. Rosalind, the taller of the two girls, dresses as a young man named Ganymede. Her disguise causes several complications in the play.