Rosalind, dressed as Ganymede, is distressed. She is distressed because she knows she wont be able to let him woo her if he thinks she is a man, Ganymede, instead of his love, Rosalind. Rosalind: Alas the day! what shall I do with my doublet and hose? However, she then realises that in a mans attire, she is able to speak to him (Orlando) like a saucy lackey, which she then does for the rest of the play. She teases him about his love, and says he does not look like a man in love. Throughout this scene, Rosalinds motive to disguise herself as a man has now changed from practical reasons to personal ones; to find out how much Orlando loves her, and perhaps to educate him, on how to love her. For example, in Act IV Scene 1, when Orlando is an hour late for their meeting, she shows that if he would have done that to Rosalind, Cupid hath clapped him o the shoulder.
Through her disguise, which she uses to her full advantage, she playfully suggests to him that she will pretend to be Rosalind so he can woo her. This Orlando feels able to do, so he can say what he wanted to say when they first met, in Act I Scene 2, and she can hear what she never expected to hear, because they are not bound by social expectations, as Orlando does not know Ganymede is Rosalind. Their relationship stays fun and lively, because he can be open and honest, and express his emotions, and she can willingly accept his proposals, for example in Act IV Scene 1:
Rosalind: 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, I will, Fridays and Saturdays and all. In the play Shakespeare questions the rigid rules of societys wooing of that time, since he wrote the play with the idea of a traditional romance; (an archetype) a boy meets a girl, they fall in love, and marry happily ever after after overcoming several obstacles and misunderstandings. However, Shakespeare was forward thinking of his time, letting Rosalind orchestrate the wooing, which was very unconventional.
As we can see from Act III Scene 4, Rosalind is a very strong and intelligent character, as she has tricked Orlando into wooing her, even though she is dressed as a man. She is also very witty, a characteristic she only feels able to express properly when she is disguised. She is perhaps the wittiest person in the play, apart from Touchstone, who is a professional comedian, after having been a fool or jester at the court for many years. In Shakespeares time, royal men at court showed their wittiness by putting down a fool. He is someone we call a stooge nowadays. However, Touchstones jokes and puns are less friendly than Rosalinds, whos aim is simply to tease or humour people, and not make fun of them, like Touchstone does.
Today, Rosalinds role is a sought-after part, since it is one of Shakespeares only good main female characters. The reason for this is that the roles of his time were pre-dominantly male, as there were no female actresses then, and men had to act female parts, which would not have been desirable.
This adds humour to the play, from the audiences perspective, because the players with female roles, e.g. Celia and Rosalind, were young adolescent males. So, Ganymede was a teenage boy, acting a female (Rosalind), dressed up as a man. A particularly humorous moment is when Orlando attempts to kiss Ganymede, for two reasons. One is that the player acting Orlando is attempting to kiss his true love, Rosalind, even though he doesnt know this. But, from the audiences point of view, this is also funny since the actor Orlando is attempting to kiss another man. Even now, cross-dressing is found humorous, explaining why people watch cabarets and pantomimes.
Further on in the play, in Act III Scene 4, we see Rosalind and Celia alone together. Alone with Celia, Rosalind does not pretend to act masculine, instead she talks about her love to Orlando in a feminine way, and Celia teases her. Rosalind: Never talk to me: I will weep. Celia: Do, I prithee; but yet have the grace to consider that tears do not become a man. Then, Corin comes in, and invites them to see Phebe and Silvius together. They do so gladly, and Rosalind takes another opportunity to use her disguise to her full advantage: she insults Phebe, somewhat cruelly. What thought you have no beauty- As by my faith, I see no more in you Than without candle may go dark to bed
However, this has an adverse effect, since Phebe falls head over heels in love with Ganymede, who in fact is Rosalind. This is another way Shakespeare has brought comedy to the play using the dramatic device of disguise, for Rosalind is, like she says, unable to return the love. From this we also see that Shakespeare did not think about relationships of the same sex, presumably because that would be too forward of his time. Also, it was illegal to demonstrate homosexual relationships; Oscar Wilde was put in jail, 200 years later for his gay relationships.
Using the dramatic device of disguise, Shakespeare also uses Rosalind to expose the shallowness and absurdity of conventional modes of wooing, in Act 4 Scene 1. This is when Ganymede mocks Orlando, which was very unconventional of that time, since normal women did not act like that; they were supposed to be very gentle, docile, etc. However, in Act IV Scene 3, Shakespeare does make Rosalind seem more feminine again, since Ganymede faints, after hearing Orlando was hurt. Fainting was not seen as a manly tribute, which nearly gives away to Oliver than Ganymede is a woman. You lack a mans heart.
When Ganymede awakens again, Rosalind admits that she is tired of disguising herself, and hiding her feelings, I would I were at home. This is not the only time Rosalind makes the mistake of showing her female characteristics. In Act III Scene 2, Rosalind nearly gives away that she is female while Corin is there because Touchstone makes up an offensive poem about Rosalind and she reacts to it vehemently.