Act IV - Act IV, Scene 1

ACT IV.

SCENE I. The Forest of Arden.

[Enter ROSALIND, CELIA, and JAQUES.]

JAQUES.
I pr'ythee, pretty youth, let me be better acquainted with thee.

ROSALIND.
They say you are a melancholy fellow.

JAQUES.
I am so; I do love it better than laughing.

ROSALIND.
Those that are in extremity of either are abominable
fellows, and betray themselves to every modern censure worse
than drunkards.

JAQUES.
Why, 'tis good to be sad and say nothing.

ROSALIND.
Why then, 'tis good to be a post.

JAQUES.
I have neither the scholar's melancholy, which is
emulation; nor the musician's, which is fantastical; nor the
courtier's, which is proud; nor the soldier's, which is
ambitious; nor the lawyer's, which is politic; nor the lady's,
which is nice; nor the lover's, which is all these: but it is
a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted
from many objects: and, indeed, the sundry contemplation of my
travels; in which my often rumination wraps me in a most
humorous sadness.

ROSALIND.
A traveller! By my faith, you have great reason to be
sad: I fear you have sold your own lands to see other men's;
then to have seen much and to have nothing is to have rich eyes
and poor hands.

JAQUES.
Yes, I have gained my experience.

ROSALIND.
And your experience makes you sad: I had rather have a fool to
make me merry than experience to make me sad; and to travel for
it too.

[Enter ORLANDO.]

ORLANDO.
Good day, and happiness, dear Rosalind!

JAQUES.
Nay, then, God be wi' you, an you talk in blank verse.

ROSALIND.
Farewell, monsieur traveller: look you lisp and wear strange
suits; disable all the benefits of your own country; be out
of love with your nativity, and almost chide God for making
you that countenance you are; or I will scarce think you have
swam in a gondola.

[Exit JAQUES.]

Why, how now, Orlando! where have you been all this while?
You a lover!--An you serve me such another trick, never come
in my sight more.

ORLANDO.
My fair Rosalind, I come within an hour of my promise.

ROSALIND.
Break an hour's promise in love! He that will divide a
minute into a thousand parts, and break but a part of the
thousand part of a minute in the affairs of love, it may be said
of him that Cupid hath clapped him o' the shoulder, but I'll
warrant him heart-whole.

ORLANDO.
Pardon me, dear Rosalind.

ROSALIND.
Nay, an you be so tardy, come no more in my sight: I
had as lief be wooed of a snail.

ORLANDO.
Of a snail!

ROSALIND.
Ay, of a snail; for though he comes slowly, he carries
his house on his head; a better jointure, I think, than you
make a woman: besides, he brings his destiny with him.

ORLANDO.
What's that?

ROSALIND.
Why, horns; which such as you are fain to be beholding to
your wives for: but he comes armed in his fortune, and prevents
the slander of his wife.

ORLANDO.
Virtue is no horn-maker; and my Rosalind is virtuous.

ROSALIND.
And I am your Rosalind.

CELIA.
It pleases him to call you so; but he hath a Rosalind of
a better leer than you.

ROSALIND.
Come, woo me, woo me; for now I am in a holiday humour,
and like enough to consent.--What would you say to me now, an
I were your very very Rosalind?

ORLANDO.
I would kiss before I spoke.

ROSALIND.
Nay, you were better speak first; and when you were
gravelled for lack of matter, you might take occasion to kiss.
Very good orators, when they are out, they will spit; and for
lovers lacking,--God warn us!--matter, the cleanliest shift is
to kiss.

ORLANDO.
How if the kiss be denied?

ROSALIND.
Then she puts you to entreaty, and there begins new matter.

ORLANDO.
Who could be out, being before his beloved mistress?

ROSALIND.
Marry, that should you, if I were your mistress; or I
should think my honesty ranker than my wit.

ORLANDO.
What, of my suit?

ROSALIND.
Not out of your apparel, and yet out of your suit.
Am not I your Rosalind?

ORLANDO.
I take some joy to say you are, because I would be talking of
her.

ROSALIND.
Well, in her person, I say I will not have you.

ORLANDO.
Then, in mine own person, I die.

ROSALIND.
No, faith, die by attorney. The poor world is almost six
thousand years old, and in all this time there was not any man
died in his own person, videlicet, in a love-cause. Troilus had
his brains dashed out with a Grecian club; yet he did what he
could to die before; and he is one of the patterns of love.
Leander, he would have lived many a fair year, though Hero had
turned nun, if it had not been for a hot midsummer night; for,
good youth, he went but forth to wash him in the Hellespont, and,
being taken with the cramp, was drowned; and the foolish
chroniclers of that age found it was--Hero of Sestos. But these
are all lies; men have died from time to time, and worms have
eaten them, but not for love.

ORLANDO.
I would not have my right Rosalind of this mind; for, I
protest, her frown might kill me.

ROSALIND.
By this hand, it will not kill a fly. But come, now I
will be your Rosalind in a more coming-on disposition; and
ask me what you will, I will grant it.

ORLANDO.
Then love me, Rosalind.

ROSALIND.
Yes, faith, will I, Fridays and Saturdays, and all.

ORLANDO.
And wilt thou have me?

ROSALIND.
Ay, and twenty such.

ORLANDO.
What sayest thou?

ROSALIND.
Are you not good?

ORLANDO.
I hope so.

ROSALIND.
Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?--Come,
sister, you shall be the priest, and marry us.--Give me your
hand, Orlando:--What do you say, sister?

ORLANDO.
Pray thee, marry us.

CELIA.
I cannot say the words.

ROSALIND.
You must begin,--'Will you, Orlando'--

CELIA.
Go to:--Will you, Orlando, have to wife this Rosalind?

ORLANDO.
I will.

ROSALIND.
Ay, but when?

ORLANDO.
Why, now; as fast as she can marry us.

ROSALIND.
Then you must say,--'I take thee, Rosalind, for wife.'

ORLANDO.
I take thee, Rosalind, for wife.

ROSALIND.
I might ask you for your commission; but,--I do take
thee, Orlando, for my husband:--there's a girl goes before the
priest; and, certainly, a woman's thought runs before her
actions.

ORLANDO.
So do all thoughts; they are winged.

ROSALIND.
Now tell me how long you would have her, after you have possessed
her.

ORLANDO.
For ever and a day.

ROSALIND.
Say "a day," without the "ever." No, no, Orlando: men are
April when they woo, December when they wed: maids are May when
they are maids, but the sky changes when they are wives. I will
be more jealous of thee than a Barbary cock-pigeon over his hen;
more clamorous than a parrot against rain; more new-fangled than
an ape; more giddy in my desires than a monkey: I will weep for
nothing, like Diana in the fountain, and I will do that when you
are disposed to be merry; I will laugh like a hyen, and that when
thou are inclined to sleep.

ORLANDO.
But will my Rosalind do so?

ROSALIND.
By my life, she will do as I do.

ORLANDO.
O, but she is wise.

ROSALIND.
Or else she could not have the wit to do this: the wiser,
the waywarder: make the doors upon a woman's wit, and it will
out at the casement; shut that, and it will out at the keyhole;
stop that, 'twill fly with the smoke out at the chimney.

ORLANDO.
A man that had a wife with such a wit, he might say,--'Wit,
whither wilt?'

ROSALIND.
Nay, you might keep that check for it, till you met your wife's
wit going to your neighbour's bed.

ORLANDO.
And what wit could wit have to excuse that?

ROSALIND.
Marry, to say,--she came to seek you there. You shall never
take her without her answer, unless you take her without her
tongue. O, that woman that cannot make her fault her husband's
occasion, let her never nurse her child herself, for she will
breed it like a fool.

ORLANDO.
For these two hours, Rosalind, I will leave thee.

ROSALIND.
Alas, dear love, I cannot lack thee two hours!

ORLANDO.
I must attend the duke at dinner; by two o'clock I
will be with thee again.

ROSALIND.
Ay, go your ways, go your ways; I knew what you would
prove; my friends told me as much, and I thought no less:--that
flattering tongue of yours won me:--'tis but one cast away,
and so,--come death!--Two o'clock is your hour?

ORLANDO.
Ay, sweet Rosalind.

ROSALIND.
By my troth, and in good earnest, and so God mend me, and
by all pretty oaths that are not dangerous, if you break one jot
of your promise, or come one minute behind your hour, I will
think you the most pathetical break-promise, and the most hollow
lover, and the most unworthy of her you call Rosalind, that may
be chosen out of the gross band of the unfaithful: therefore
beware my censure, and keep your promise.

ORLANDO.
With no less religion than if thou wert indeed my Rosalind: so,
adieu!

ROSALIND.
Well, Time is the old justice that examines all such
offenders, and let time try: adieu!

[Exit ORLANDO.]

CELIA.
You have simply misus'd our sex in your love-prate: we must
have your doublet and hose plucked over your head, and show
the world what the bird hath done to her own nest.

ROSALIND.
O coz, coz, coz, my pretty little coz, that thou didst know
how many fathom deep I am in love! But it cannot be sounded:
my affection hath an unknown bottom, like the bay of Portugal.

CELIA.
Or rather, bottomless; that as fast as you pour affection
in, it runs out.

ROSALIND.
No; that same wicked bastard of Venus, that was begot of
thought, conceived of spleen, and born of madness; that blind
rascally boy, that abuses every one's eyes, because his own are
out, let him be judge how deep I am in love.--I'll tell thee,
Aliena, I cannot be out of the sight of Orlando: I'll go find
a shadow, and sigh till he come.

CELIA.
And I'll sleep.

[Exeunt.]

Footnotes

  1. Rosalind raises the stakes of the exchange, hinting at an escalation from a verbal to a physical encounter. She suggests a “kiss” as a potential solution to a lack of words. The language she uses to evoke Orlando’s loss of words is particularly vivid. She describes a state in which Orlando is “gravelled for lack of matter.” The phrase is visually rich, evoking the image of a ship run aground. Its sharp consonant sounds—*gr*, *ck*, and *t*—evoke the wordless crunching of timber striking stone.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. Countering Orlando’s claim that “in mine own person, I die,” Rosalind claims that men do not die for love. The word “videlicet” is Latin in origin and means, “that is to say.” It is a word often used in courts of law, giving Rosalind’s speech a legal tone. In this context, her opening sentence, “No, faith, die by attorney,” suggests that Rosalind metaphorically kills Orlando with the argument she lays out.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. According to Elizabethan cosmology—the prevailing model of the universe in Shakespeare’s time—the history of the world would have been informed by biblical and classical references. Thus, Rosalind believes that the world is “almost six thousand years old.” It figures, then, that the references she uses throughout the rest of the line are of classical origin.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. Rosalind, in her continued teasing of Orlando, subtly shifts from the image of the snail to that of “horns.” Snails have horns, which warrants the transition. Horns are also the symbol of the cuckold, the husband whose wife cheats on him. The symbol finds its origins in the mating practices of male deer, who lock horns over the right to mate with female deer.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. A “jointure” is the groom’s version of a dowry. It refers to the estate, land, and wealth a potential husband offers his bride. Rosalind teases the disowned, penniless Orlando by saying that a snail would be a better suitor.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. Rosalind offers a subtle pun. The archaic word “lief” means “glad,” suggesting that Rosalind would be equally glad to be courted by a snail. “Lief” of course also sounds like “leaf,” which metonymically connects back to the image of the “snail.” That is to say, the phrase evokes the relationship between snails and leaves.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. Just before exiting the scene, Jaques offers a few words of advice to Orlando. Understanding that Orlando has arrived to court Rosalind, Jaques suggests that Orlando “talk in blank verse.” Blank verse is unrhymed iambic pentameter, a formal style which Shakespeare employs in dialogue between upper-class characters. Jaques knows that Orlando’s courting will be more effective if he raises his level of speech. The irony is that Orlando ignores the advice; the rest of the scene unfolds in prose.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. The “bastard of Venus” is Cupid. Rosalind’s claim that he was born in spleen is a reference to the humors that suggest anger, aggression, and violence in behavior. In this allusion, love, especially Rosalind’s love for Orlando, is characterized as something cruel and harmful.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  9. Celia’s claim that Rosalind’s love is “bottomless” suggests that her infatuation with Orlando is less about him and more about a desire to be in love. In this metaphor, Rosalind “pours affection” into the vessel that is Orlando. Yet the more she pours, the less substantial their love is.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  10. If we consider this scene Rosalind’s attempt to teach her lover how to love her, these lines could be a way in which Rosalind trains Orlando to respect her “wit.” While Orlando initially paints Rosalind as an archetypal love object—an ethereal, chaste, and passive woman—the actual Rosalind has sharp wit, strong opinions, and a sexual appetite. Rosalind uses this discussion of “wit” and poses as a “difficult woman” in order to retrain Orlando’s mind; women are not the objects found in love poetry.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  11. By “woman’s thought runs before her action” Rosalind alludes to the expectations of her wedding night: a woman goes before a priest a “girl,” with her womanhood intact, and becomes a woman on her wedding night. This description of female sexuality reflects traditional conventions of virginity and marriage. However, Rosalind’s claim that she will not ask Orlando’s “commision,” or right to her hand in marriage, because “women’s thoughts” run before her suggests that her anticipation of the wedding night causes her to rush to the alter. Ironically, Rosalind both invokes traditional conventions for female sexuality and challenges it with her sexualized thoughts.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  12. Here, Rosalind plays the part of playwright orchestrating the events of the drama and dictating the other character's lines. She takes full control of her destiny and her romance in not only educating Orlando on how to woo her but also putting the words of the marriage vow in his mouth.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  13. In calling these stories from mythology “all lies,” Rosalind places love in the realm of mythology: it is a fabricated emotion used to drive plots. Rosalind plays herself as a cynic who does not believe in love to mock Orlando’s conventional wooing.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  14. Sestos was the land in which Hero’s tower was located. Leander is called the “hero of Sestos.”

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  15. Leander is a tragic character from mythology who drowns while pursuing his lover Hero. Hero lives in a tower across a narrow channel, which Leander swims every night to reach her. During the summer months, Leander successfully navigates the channel by following the light of a lantern that Hero puts in the window. One night there is a storm that blows out the lantern. Unable to find his way in the dark, Leander swims in circles until he gets a cramp and drowns.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  16. Troilus is a character from Greek mythology whose death signified the end of the Trojan Empire. He was born to Hecuba the queen of Troy and was so beautiful that people believed his father was Apollo. A prophecy proclaimed that Troy would not fall if Troilus made it to adulthood. Upon hearing the prophecy, Achilles seeks out the youth, makes sexual advances on him, and beheads him in a temple. There are many versions of Troilus’ story including Shakespeare’s own *Troilus and Cressida*, in which the poet turns this myth into a heterosexual love story.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  17. “Suit” in this context means both one’s clothing and courtship. While Orlando uses this question to ask about his apparel, Rosalind uses wordplay to mock his courtship.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  18. In this scene, Rosalind teaches Orlando how to woo her. While his impulse is to kiss her first, she instructs him to first woo her with “speech.” Remember the Orlando was denied a courtly education by his older brother Oliver. In this way, Rosalind makes him a worthy lover by training him how to act like one.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  19. Remember that Rosalind is posing as Ganymede in this scene. Each time she insists that she is “your Rosalind” it is embedded with irony: she simultaneously *is* Rosalind and is merely *playing* the part of Rosalind.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  20. Here, Rosalind claims that a snail is a better wooer than Orlando because he “carries his house” with him. Rosalind’s humorous metaphor here suggests that a woman looks for security when considering marriage and love; she needs the promise of a secure “destiny.”

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  21. The “he” to which Rosalind refers in these lines is slightly unclear. She could mean Cupid, the god of love, lengthening an hour by dividing it into excruciatingly smaller units of time. She could also mean the man who divides the hour but does not do so on behalf of love. In either reading, fragmentation is used to signify the anguish that comes with love and reflects the poetic blazon that characterized much of the sonnets. This is why Rosalind’s characterization of Orlando as “whole-hearted” is negative: he cannot be in love if he is not fragmented.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  22. Remember that Rosalind told Orlando within her disguise as Ganymede that she would pose as his love object. When Orlando greets Rosalind he addresses her by her name but he does not yet know that she is the actual Rosalind.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  23. The four “humors” were a theory that came from Galenic medicine. The four humors were bodily fluids— yellow bile, black bile, phlegm, and blood— which were thought to control one’s moods, disposition, and health. Having a “humorous sadness” yeilds a double meaning in this context: it both means that his sadness is comical, and that his sadness comes from an imbalance in his humors.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  24. Rosalind identifies Jaques as a “traveler” by choosing one of the qualities that he mentioned, contemplating his travels. The “traveler” is an essential quality of the trickster who lives on the boundaries of society. The trickster sees all with their “rich eyes’ but owns nothing. Even though Rosalind tries to pair down Jaques’ identity to its most essential part, she still identifies him as a character who does not fit into an easy category.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  25. Throughout this play, Shakespeare uses dialogue involving the fools to contemplate philosophical issues. For this reason many of Touchstone and Jaques’ conversations with each other and the other characters within the play seem thematically unrelated to the plot, yet profound in claims and questions.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  26. Here, Jaques delineates each version of melancholy by ascribing it to a different person. Remember, that Rosalind made the same types of distinctions for Time and the experience of time in Act III, scene ii. In both instances, the characters seem to be making lists in order to categorize types of people and therefore define them. Jaques distinguishes himself from these people because he does not have a describable melancholy, but a “melancholy of his own.” Jaques exists outside the categories that regulate their society.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  27. "Too much of a good thing" is a euphemism for male genitalia. Rosalind, who is cross-dressing as the male Ganymede, is testing Orlando's courtship skills; otherwise, she probably wouldn't (as a woman) speak so suggestively.

    — Sarah St. Albin, Owl Eyes Staff
  28. That is, the verdict of the judges in ancient Greece was that Leander died because of Hero of Sestos, but he actually died of cramps while he was swimming.

    — Stephen Holliday
  29. That is, or I would consider my virtue of less value than my cleverness.

    — Stephen Holliday
  30. That is, then she makes you beg (for a kiss), and this is another subject for your commentary.

    — Stephen Holliday
  31. In other words, Rosalind's virtue would never allow her to be unfaithful to her husband.

    — Stephen Holliday
  32. That is, he is already fully prepared for the fortune that awaits him.

    — Stephen Holliday
  33. Rosalind refers to a cuckold, a man whose wife in unfaithful.  A cuckold is said to wear the horns of a stag.

    — Stephen Holliday
  34. That is, the snail, because he has all that he needs, is not subject to the changes of fortune (destiny).

    — Stephen Holliday
  35. That is, Cupid has clapped Orlando's back to encourage him in his pursuit of Rosalind/Ganymede.

    — Stephen Holliday
  36. Jacques is glad to see Rosalind leave--what he means here is, "If your are going to speak in blank verse, then goodbye."  Blank verse, which is unrhymed iambic pentameter (five sets of unstressed and stressed syllables), is the most often-used poetic voice in Shakespeare's time.  Jacques, a most practical and cynical person, does not want to hear the artificiality of poetic diction.  He dislikes anything that attempts to soften the reality of the group's situation--exile from the court.

    — Stephen Holliday
  37. That is, show the world that the bird has fouled its own nest--that it is a woman who is slandering other women.

    — Stephen Holliday
  38. That is, a woman makes thorough plans before she takes any action.

    — Stephen Holliday
  39. An interesting question is, "Why can't Celia can't say the words?"  The answer may be that, even though she knows this is all a sham, she is too conventional to make a joke of a sacrament.  But she is not reciting the religious ceremony and can conduct a "secular" version.

    — Stephen Holliday
  40. This would be better stated as "men have died from time to time, but not for love, and worms have eaten them."

    — Stephen Holliday
  41. Troilus and Cressida are subjects of a long poem by Chaucer and a play by Shakespeare.  Although Troilus ultimately loses Cressida's love, he does not, in a technical sense, die of a broken heart because he (a prince of Troy) is killed in the Trojan War.

    — Stephen Holliday
  42. The Hellespont, also known as the Dardanelles, is a strait that connects the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara (the Propontis) in the north east and divides Europe from Asia.

    — Stephen Holliday
  43. Rosalind is getting at a cultural truth--to have land in this society is to have power.

    — Stephen Holliday
  44. That is, in the most current opinion.  In this passage, Rosalind is implying that pretending to be melancholy is an affectation that has gone out of fashion.

    — Stephen Holliday
  45. Cupid is the son of Mercury, with whom his mother Venus, had an affair. Her husband was Vulcan. 

    — Jamie Wheeler
  46. Using her wiles to make something she is responsible for appear to be her husband's fault.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  47. A phrase directed at someone who talks to much ("Where did you go, wit?")

    — Jamie Wheeler
  48. The goddess Diana was often a centerpiece of ornamental fountains in Elizabethan England.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  49. This colorful bird is a symbol of jealousy. The actual bird was introduced to Europe by the Turks.  Turkish men were thought by the English to be especially protective of their wives' fidelity.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  50. From Greek mythology:  Leader was the lover of Hero.  Every night he swam the Hellespont to visit her but eventually drowned.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  51. Based on biblical calculations, many Elizabethans believed the Earth to be only 6,000 years old.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  52. He is asking if he will be at a loss for words.  "Suit" is a double-entrendre:  courtship and clothing.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  53. Cupid has either wounded him, or "tapped" (arrested) him but his heart is intact.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  54. Venice was a frequent tourist destination, whose waterways were traversed by gondolas.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  55. Moody. "Humorous" refers to the belief in the bodily fluids known as "humors" (yellow bile, black bile, blood, and phlegm) which were thought to control moods. 

    — Jamie Wheeler