Question: Discuss the Dramatic significance of disguise in the play As you Like It.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) had a mastery of craftsmanship. He invented the dramatic technique of disguise at first in his world-famous tragicomedy “The Merchant of Venice” and later in “As You Like It”. Disguise term which starts by the end of the act one in the play, reinforces the advancement of plot, use of irony, theme, and tragi-comic effects.
Significance of disguise in Shakespeare’s play
During the Golden Age of English Literature, women were not allowed to act on the public theatre. The parts of women were played by men or boys. Shakespeare tried to overcome such a situation that is why he invented this dramatic technique in which many of his heroines played the camouflage role of men.
Matter of safety
Duke Frederick suddenly banishes Rosalind being jealous of her virtues. He declares that within ten days Rosalind has to go out twenty miles away around the palace. Rosalind and Celia show logics against this decision but the usurping Duke does pay heed to them. Rosalind and Celia become tensed and think again and again how and where they will go. Celia asserts to go to the forest of Arden to track down the banished duke. Then the matter of safety comes in front of them and Rosalind utters sorrowfully:
“What danger will it be to us,
(Maids as we are) to travel forth so far!
Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold.”
Finally, they decide that they will take disguise, Rosalind as a male named Ganymede and Celia as female Aliena. Thus, Shakespeare moralizes that presence of the mind of any gender brings about safety in life.
More notes of As you Like It
New journey to liberty
Shakespeare has shown that Rosalind and Celia have got an opportunity to enjoy their new freedom. Celia declares satisfactorily:
“Now go we content
To liberty and not to banishment.”
But this disguise creates especial facility for Rosalind to her new life. In the court, we see that Rosalind is gentle, submissive, and introvert but in the forest, she is quick, talkative and manly, and fresher than the dew of forest. Therefore, Shakespeare has illustrated by this camouflage that total liberty exposes human being’s concealed talent.
Versatility of life
Rosalind and Celia are upper-class human beings. They never see poverty and hunger in their life and the struggle of life. But for the first time, they notice the various and extremely new forms of life in which food is more valuable than gold. Celia expresses the value of food by her prayer to the shepherd.
“I pray you, one of you question yond man
If he for gold will give us any food;
I faint almost to death.”
So, Shakespeare’s technique of disguise has probed into the deep psychology of upper-class people that even for food human beings can do anything just for food.
Sub plot or tangle love
The dramatic significance of disguise is utmost since it has created a subplot in the play in which love tangle is prime. Rosalind in masculine makeup is extremely handsome. She is loved by Phebe who is an emblem of village beauty of conventional type. Phebe is ready to do anything for Ganymede that means for Rosalind. On the other hand, Silvius madly loves Phebe. Another tangle love is also brought about by this disguise technique. Touchstone and Audrey love each other but a rustic called Oliver loves Audrey.
Love of playful intrigue
Various talent of Rosalind is exposed in disguise. She can learn through the verses hanged upon the branches of tree that Orlando is here in this forest. Rosalind creates a love of playful intrigue because she plays the role of doctor to cure Orlando’s love disease.
Purification of Oliver and Duke Frederick and Empowerment of women with unveiling twist are two great points of camouflage.
In fine, it can be asserted that the camouflage technique has added extra charm and twist in the play which are mingled with tragi-comic effects. Besides, Shakespeare has got easy access to the human mind as a tragi-comedy composer through his inventive literary technique.