Rosalind and Celia's plan

Act 1 Scene 3 – Key Scene

Duke Frederick has just banished Rosalind and told her that she must leave the court. Once he has gone, Celia promises Rosalind that she will go with her and they create a plan to turn their ‘banishment’ into ‘liberty’.

Take a look at an extract from this scene and watch it in performance here. Using the following steps, remember to look at it line by line and if you’re looking at the scene for the first time, don’t worry if you don’t understand everything at once.

  • Look
    Take a look at the scene. Who has the most lines? Are they using prose or verse? Actors at the RSC often put the language into their own words to help them understand what they are saying. We’ve added some definitions (in green), questions (in red) and paraphrased some sections (in blue) to help with this. You can click on the text that is highlighted for extra guidance.
    Celia
    O my poor Rosalind, whither wilt thou go?
    Wilt thou change fathers? I will give thee mine.
    I charge thee be not thou more grieved than I am.
    Rosalind
    I have more cause.
    Celia
    Thou hast not, cousin.
    Prithee be cheerful; know’st thou not the duke
    Hath banished me, his daughter?
    Rosalind
    That he hath not.
    Celia
    No, hath not? Rosalind lacks then the love
    Which teacheth thee that thou and I am one.

    Shall we be sundered ? Shall we part, sweet girl?
    No, let my father seek another heir:
    Therefore devise with me how we may fly,
    Whither to go and what to bear with us.
    And do not seek to take your change upon you,
    To bear your griefs yourself and leave me out,
    For, by this heaven, now at our sorrows pale,
    Say what thou canst, I’ll go along with thee.

    Celia is telling Rosalind that she will be banished with her, even though her father hasn't sent her away, because she could not bear to be separated from her cousin.

    Separated.

    Rosalind
    Why, whither shall we go?
    Celia
    To seek your father in the forest of Arden.
    Rosalind
    Alas, what danger will it be to us,
    Maids as we are, to travel forth so far!
    Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold.

    Rosalind thinks their looks as women will be more attractive than their money and so will put them in more danger.

    Celia
    I’ll put myself in poor and mean attire
    And with a kind of umber smirch my face.

    The like do you. So shall we pass along
    And never stir assailants.

    I'll dress in lowly clothing and make my face dirty.

    Rosalind
    Were it not better,
    Because that I am more than common tall,
    That I did suit me all points like a man?
    A gallant curtle-axe upon my thigh,
    A boar-spear in my hand, and — in my heart
    Lie there what hidden woman’s fear there will.

    Rosalind describes the weapons she will carry when she is disguised as a man, and how they will help her to hide the fear in her heart.

    Celia
    What shall I call thee when thou art a man?
    Rosalind
    I’ll have no worse a name than Jove’s own page,
    And therefore look you call me Ganymede.
    But what will you be called?

    The servant of the god Jove (or Jupiter).

    Celia
    Something that hath a reference to my state:
    No longer Celia, but Aliena.
  • Listen
    Read the scene aloud, then watch the actors trying it in different ways. Which way feels right? What in the language makes you think that? In the clip, actor Lucy Phelps describes Rosalind as “almost paralysed by fear” and “very alone” in this scene. Does Shakespeare use any particular words or lines to support this?
  • Watch
    Take a look at the actors performing this scene. How do the characters come across in this version?
  • Imagine
    Explore some images from past versions of As You Like It at the RSC. Which sets and staging choices for the scene feel right to you?