November 7, 2013
Comedy in Literature
In his play As You Like It, William Shakespeare criticizes the idea of an idealistic or perfect love and fully supports a realistic love, one that is grounded in the real world. Shakespeare mocks the foolishness of idealistic love through Phoebe's letter to Ganymede. Shakespeare similarly uses Ganymede to amend the idealistic views of love of Orlando.
Shakespeare ridicules the idealistic love Phoebe has for Ganymede by regarding it as idiotic. Phoebe's initial attraction to Ganymede is when Phoebe sees that Ganymede has the "power to raise such love" in her (IV.iii.54). Because Ganymede stands up to Phoebe, she states, "whiles you chid me, I did love" (IV.iii.59). She then questions Ganymede's behavior, claiming that he overlooked his righteous and godly nature to upset her: "[w]hy, thy godhead laid apart / [w]arr'st thous with a woman's heart" (IV.iii.48-49).
Phoebe is so enthralled by Ganymede that she offers Ganymede her hand in marriage: "[w]ill the faithful offer take / Of me and all that I can make" (IV.iii.63-64). If Ganymede rejects Phoebe's offer, she will "study how to die" (IV.iii.66). In this extreme behavior, Shakespeare seems to condemn Phoebe's exaggerated idealistic love for Ganymede. Similarly, Rosalind explains that death this is a senseless threat, for no person has ever died of a broken heart: "[m]en have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love" IV.i.112-113). In addition, this excessive infatuation with Rosalind is critiqued when Phoebe compares Ganymede to God: "[a]rt thou god to Shepard turned" (IV.iii.44). Here, Shakespeare humors this excessive behavior of love. Shakespeare scorns Phoebe for her idealistic ideals of love for Ganymede and examines the folly of her character when...