October 4th, 2004

hermione by oatmilk

As You Like It: the very very gay play

A couple people have posted mentioned homoerotic undertones in the play and i definitely just posted a reply to one:
Oh i'll totally argue that the character motivations in the play make much more sense if a lot of them are gay. Celia is in love with Rosalind (though i'm not sure Rosalind loves her back) and marries Orlando's brother so that she can remain near Rosalind as she sees that Rosalind is committed to joining her fortunes with those of Orlando. (I'm not sure Rosalind ever loves anyone in this play; it seems more like she's interested in studying this strange behavior called being in love.) I'm still not sure what to make of the fact that Orlando totally doesn't recognize Rosalind since her voice and face are likely very similar. Yes he only saw her briefly (i'm leaving aside for the moment my whole beef with the "love at first sight" conceit) but still. I'm inclined to say he recognizes her and plays along to win her. There's also definite subtext that Duke Senior and Sir Rowland were more than just friends, so i like the idea that Duke Frederick acted out of jealous rage and is willing to make nice at the end so readily because he has met himself a new boyfriend (who may or may not actually be a monk).

I was also intrigued by Rosalind's choice of Ganymed as a pseudonym. Yes, Ganymed was cupbearer to the gods (he is immortalized in the constellation Aquarius) but first Zeus swooped down in the form of an eagle and kidnapped him -- because he was in love with him. As far as i know, this is the only story in which Zeus, who certainly got around, takes a liking to a young man. Shakespeare must have been aware of that aspect of the classical tale, and since he was likely bisexual himself (see discussion of the sonnets, Mr. W. H., etc.) one wonders if the innuendos here weren't entirely unintentional.
And you can't even say i have no shame 'cause i was definitely moderate in tone, using the most textually viable couples, tempering with actual academe; i could definitely rewrite this play as a gay romp.