“Self-wooing, my liege, is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting.”
The local teen group is performing As You Like It at our local library today, so I’ve been brushing up on the story. Since it’s so common to make the Robin Hood connection with Duke Senior (going off to live in the safety of the forest, away from his enemies, enjoying life with his friends, etc..) I was wondering whether a comparison existed with another classic story, Cyrano De Bergerac.
For those not familiar with the story, Cyrano loves Roxanne but cannot bring himself to tell her his true feelings. She loves Christian, but Christian has no skill at poetry and is afraid to woo her, so Cyrano literally hides in the shadows and feeds Christian romantic things to say to her, effectively wooing Roxanne for himself, in Christian’s name.
How does this compare to As You Like It? Let’s look. Rosalind is dressed up as the boy Ganymede when she runs into Orlando. Orlando acknowledges that he loves the lady Rosalind, but does not have the kind of poetry to woo her. Rosalind, as Ganymede, tells him what to say to get the girl.
It’s got some similarities — Cyrano hiding in the bushes is very much like Rosalind hiding under the disguise of Ganymede. “But!” Bardfilm points out, “Cyrano’s intent was never to teach Christian how to woo Roxanne, but to win her himself.”
This is true. But still, are they all that different? Rosalind has this idea of her dream man, and knows exactly what he will say and do to woo her. Orlando is basically the mannequin in this story going through the motions of turning Rosalind’s dreams into reality. She plays both the role of Cyrano and Roxanne, and Orlando is literally the middle man. She can’t marry herself. She needs a man. So she turns Orlando into the man that she wants, without him ever realizing it.
I don’t know, maybe it’s a silly idea, but sometimes those are fun too.