So yesterday, we discussed the prose-to-poetry transitions in As You Like It, and I mentioned that correlation I found was that the concept of power was what brought about the shift to verse: the Dukes, the eldest son, the man who made the woods his domain… and of course, the lovelorn.
And so why then don’t the scenes with Orlando and Rosalind (or in his mind Ganymede, and in his pretend-play, Ganymede playing Rosalind) flow into verse?
Well, first of all. There is no sense of wooing here. At least not real wooing. Orlando, even when he’s pretending that Ganymede is playing his Rosalind, never for a moment believes that the person he’s talking to is the real deal. Irony works that way. And Rosalind cannot let on her true feelings for Orlando, or at least she must feel that she can’t, not in the guise of Ganymede.
More importantly, though, I think it’s because of Rosalind’s lack of power. She can fly the court, but she must dress as a man to survive. She doesn’t have real power, just pretend power, and even that can’t bring poetry into the world (and looking at it in that way, what a high opinion Willy Shakes must have had of himself).
She is so powerless that even in the delivery of the epilogue when she defies convention or “the fashion” (Epi.1), she cannot bring forth the words in verse. She can only deliver it in prose (and as I mentioned yesterday, this is the only non-verse epilogue in the Canon).
So much has been written and said about the comedies being where the females are king (or rather queen), but looking at the prose/poetry issue here, I’m not sure that can be said with any certainty about As You Like It.