Knight of Cups - Rosalind
Dramatis Personae: Rosalind, as Ganymede; Celia.
Text & Context: Rosalind, whose name means "beautiful rose", is the high-spirited heroine of As You Like It. As with many Shakespeare heroines, she is not only the object of love but the personification of the Ideal of Love. In the liminal forest of Arden, the boy actor as Rosalind as Ganymede as Rosalind becomes an elaborate anatomy of the varieties of Love itself.
The androgynous Rosalind is the bulls-eye of the "marks" of love Ganymede speaks of, the go-between of Cupid's dart and bleeding harts. With Hymen's torch she illuminates romantic love - Rosalind & Orlando, Celia & Oliver, Phebe & Silvius - familial love - Rosalind & Celia, Rosalind & Duke Senior, Orlando & Jaques & Oliver - love between friends - Ganymede & Aliena, Ganymede & Orlando - love between age and youth - Adam & Orlando - misbegotten love - Pheobe for Ganymede, Ganymede for Orlando - the parody of love - Touchstone & Audrey - and the rejection of love - Jacques. Of the last, Rosalind assures the melancholic his rejection of love is as conventional a pose as any of those he mocks: "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."
The love she feels together with the love she causes others to feel, allows her to know in her dual role how her behaviour is but one possible role among many. She herself fulfills her ideal role in Love's Pageant by first having the pluck to pick the right role for herself and then the ability to play it with creative detachment.
Subtext: Because of the new level of Shakespearean gender-bending countenanced by Rosalind, some have seen in her role the person of Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton. The golden-maned Wriothesley - whose surname, pronounced "Rose-lee", resembles Rosalind - was a very androgynous and confident young man. Ganymede, Jupiter's cup-bearer and boy-toy, was also the name Richard Barnfield used for Southampton in his homoerotic poem The Affectionate Shepherd.