Role Reduction

If the heroine of As You Like It is Rosalind, then her confidante and travelling companion is Celia. Rosalind’s counterpart, at least in love, is Orlando, and his confidante and travelling companion is Adam.

Now, we’re about a week away from discussing (at the end of our exploration of the play) the David Rodes “midpoint theory,” but humor me for a minute or two…

The midpoint of As You Like It comes in the midst of Act Three, Scene Two.

Up until this point, Celia has roughly 190 or so lines in just over 65 speeches. After the midpoint, she has less than 80 lines in fewer than 40 speeches, including the one-line throwaway, “I sleep” at the end of Act Four, Scene One (IV.i.205). She has only six speeches (for a total of EIGHT lines) after she learns the identity of Oliver, the man who will become her husband in the play’s final scene… a scene in which, by the way, she has exactly ZERO lines.

If you think that’s bad, take a look at Adam.

Granted, he is a more supporting character, with only 10 speeches in the first half of the play, comprising 65 lines. In the second half of the play, he doesn’t even appear, let alone speak. His last lines are in Act Two, Scene Seven, when Orlando brings him to Duke Senior’s camp. After that, he neither speaks nor is even mentioned. Hell, he isn’t even listed in the stage directions for entrances into the final wedding scene. Does he die after Act Two? Or in the vernacular of Romeo and Juliet, does he pull a Benvolio and simply disappear? You would think if he died, someone might mention that; and if he didn’t, you’d think that he’d be at the wedding of his master.

Why do both these characters have their roles so deeply diminished? I’m not sure… but you have to admit, it is… curious.

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