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succeed. Falstaff is twice invited to a rendezvous in the house of Mistress Ford, and twice falls into the trap. Twice is Master Ford warned of the rendezvous, and on both occasions the cunning women manage to get the fat knight away, once in the buck-basket, once disguised as an old woman. Ford, wlien hc rages through the house, finding no onc, becomes the subject of endless laughter and fun. Nevertheless—and herein I find a proof of the truly moral intention of the poet-the licentious admirer is made much more ridiculous than the husband, and is placed in much more unpleasant positions. Once he is thrown into a pond; once he is soundly beaten. The jealous husband, even when he has reason to be jealous, is made the object of scorn and laughter in the cynical French comedics of the present day. Side by side with this principal action runs, in Shakespearian fashion, a subordinate theme, which occurs in the house of the husband of the second “Merry Wife." Father and mother have each chosen a different consort for their daughter; she, however, who cannot endure either, cunningly manages to tako occasion of the great final trick played on Falstaff to marry her favoured lover, young Fenton. It does not enter into my plan to spcak of all the droll and comic incidents of this play, which contains many highly drastic and realistic characters. They would lose their force by dry recital. My task is confined to characterising the various female types—an casy one in this instance, as none of them present any psychological riddles for solution. The “Merry Wives" are hcalthy natures, full of chcerfulness and joyous life, who certainly go tolerably far in their practical jokes, but never act in a manner contrary to morality or true honour. Anne Page is a lovable innocent girl, gifted by nature with a rich dower of ability and skill to accompany her on life's path, whereby she finds herself in a position to defend and assure her happiness, as she conceives it, against the unreasonable plans of her parents.
"AS YOU LIKE IT”
A bright-tinted fantastic life unfolds itself before our eyes in the charming comedy which Shakespeare, we cannot imagine why, has entitled As You Like It. According to his favourite wont, he here causes two actions, related to each other in their nature, to run side by side, and in the end to unite into one. In two families quarrels have broken out between brothers. The younger brother of the rightful Duke has fcd into the neighbouring forest of Ardennes, and there leads, with those nobles who have remained true, "a careless life as in the golden age." The daughter of the banished Duke, Rosalind, united in tender friendship to Celia, the daughter of the usurper, has yielded to the earnest request of her cousin and has remained at court On the other hand, there reigns dissension between the three sons of old Sir Rolan de Bois, recently demised, only here the elder brother wrongs the younger. The father has left to Orlando, the youngest of his three sons, only a small patrimony, but has charged Oliver, the eldest, to provide for his brothers' education. Oliver fulfils his father's trust only as regards Jaques, the second brother, and neglects Orlando in a manner which evokes his bitter complaints:
For my part, he keeps me rustically at home, or, to speak more properly, stays me here at home unkept : for call you that keeping for a gentleman of my birth, that differs not from the stalling of an ox? His horses are bred better; for, besides that they are fair with their secding, they are taught their manage, and to that end riders dearly hired: but I, his brother, gain nothing under him but growth. . . I know no wise remedy how to avoid it.-ds You Like It, act i, scene i.
Orlando rebels against this treatment, and, in an angry colloquy with his brother, demands the sum due to him under his father's will, in order to seek fortune on his own
account. Oliver with contemptuous words accedes, but he intends to be rid of him in some other way without paying his portion. A favourable occasion offers. The wrestler of the reigning Duke comes to tell him that Orlando has challenged him to a wrestling-match before the ruler, but as this will certainly prove fatal to the young man, he calls upon Oliver to dissuade him from the dangerous undertaking. The wicked brother tells the wrestler that "he had as lief he should break Orlando's neck as his finger, that there is not one so young and so villainous this day living,” and endeavours in every way to provoke the wrestler's anger against Orlando.
Rosalind and Celia desire to look on at this wrestling. match, and strive with moving entreaties to turn the youth from his purpose. Rosalind in this scene betrays that she has given her heart to this handsome, charming young man. But all in vain. He dares the combat, and is victorious. The Duke, who was about to reward him, turns away coldly on hearing that he is the son of Sir Roland de Bois, a faithful adherent of his deposed brother. The gentle angelic Celia is deeply wounded by her father's unjust proceeding, and feels constrained to speak a friendly word to the young man who has been so ill-treated. Rosalind, carried away by her newly awakened inclination, gives him a gold chain, and can scarcely consent to part from him. Celia's friendship is put to a severe test, whence she issues victorious. The Duke, her father, seized with sudden anger against Rosalind, banishes her from court, but Celia will not part from her friend, and they resolve to repair to Rosalind's father in the forest of Arden. With gay coquettish wit, Rosalind declares her intention of assuming man's attire:
Were it not better,
Lie there what hidden woman's fear there will
As You Like It, act i. scene 3.
The two girls, after some hardships, find themselves in the forest, and take up their abode in a farm, where they live as brother and sister. They renew acquaintance with Orlando, who has also fled from his brother's persecution into the forest. The part of Adam, his faithful servant, who accompanies him, and which was evidently delineated with affection by the poet, used to be played by Shakespeare himself. The fascinating idyllic picture of forest life is one of the most enchanting ever created by a poet. Orlando, tormented by love, cuts the name of Rosalind on the bark of every tree, and hangs love-poems on every branch. I incline to believe that he recognised her at their first meeting, which makes their charming game of hide-and-seek only the more delightful. He can only express his devotion through the mock lovemaking she exacts in her boy character, until, become a girl again, she gives herself to him entirely, with her father's consent. The wicked Oliver, too, saved by Orlando from a cruel death, is thereby so touched and softened that he is converted, and as a reformed man wins the heart of the lovely Celia. The usurper is also converted by a holy friar, and restores the dominion to his deposed brother. We cannot follow the skilful and artistic action in all its details. It is only permitted to us to place the fair womanly figure of Rosalind in a right light. (Rosalind is a character akin to Beatrice, in Much Ado About Nothing. She is gentler than Beatrice, but also less strong and deep. She is as witty and lively, but in another way. Beatrice's wit flashes like lightning, blinding, but often disquieting. Rosalind's distils itself like a refreshing spring. She chatters as a bird sings; all her life, joy, and love, all the sweet and happy movements of her heart overflow into her talk. She is as gentle as she is lively; over her boldest playfulness there breathes a sweet tenderness. Even her male attire, so slippery and dangerous a test to feminine modesty, does not harm her. How passionate and deep appears her love for Orlando, whether she hides it saucily, allows it to break forth impatiently, or half-unconsciously betrays it by fainting away at sight of the bloody handkerchief. How well she understands how to make herself agreeable to Orlando, in her conversations with him as a boy, without ever failing in female modesty. This Rosalind, in her wondrous mixture of playfulness, naïveté, and tenderness, is like a fine musical chord, and we abandon ourselves joyfully to the fascinating impression this absolutely harmonious female character arouses.
“ TWELFTH NIGHT"
Attractive womanliness, profound feeling and prudence, modesty and boldness, all these qualities unite in the lovely being Shakespeare calls Viola, and who, in that most perfect comedy, Twelfth Night, is one of his most charming female characters. We are in the capital of Illyria. The first scene presents us to the ruler, who is wasting away with a romantic passion for Countess Olivia. She returns cold answers to all his messages, for she is sunk in grief for the loss of a beloved brother, and has resolved to bewail him seven years in cloistered retirement. His passion, in lieu of being quieted by this resistance, is only the more enkindled, for he paints to himself, with glowing fancy, how one who can consecrate such true love to a brother will love him who wins her heart:
How will she love, when the rich golden shaft
Twelfth Night, act i. scenc 1.