Rosalind, of all her "infinitely various" sisterhood, is most universally the pet, as combining in her single person qualities
which appeal to all classes of men and women. She has wit to charm the intellectual; a fund of lively romance for the sympathetic; fresh beauty, and a hearty, ringing vitality, for the merely material; and store of tender, graceful, womanly virtues to delight
the popular heart -- which, certainly, on such a subject, must be
Notwithstanding that the princess Rosalind was born and bred
among the formal etiquettes of a court, and accustomed to the
sumptuous luxury of ducal palaces, it is plain that she has pined and wilted in so artificial an atmosphere, till, casting it like a tiresome garment, she bounds, full of ardent, exuberant life, into the green midst of Arden. We cannot easily recognize our Rosalind
in the languid court-lady of legitimate caprices and vapors, who
"shows more mirth than she is mistress of;" nor ever in the meek
victim of whom her uncle, the duke, draws this melancholy picture,
impossible to a true conception of such a very madcap of animal
* * * * Her smoothness,
Her very silence, and her patience,
Speak to the people, and they pity her.
Rosalind smooth, and silent, and patient -- above all, pitied! Is there, in that, a trace of her spirited, self-reliant, voluble self?
Could we not far more readily believe, of our gallant little Ganymede, that she had restored his lawful throne to her father by
sheer dint of her wits, and her sure trick of reaching the hearts of "the people," than that they had simply looked on and pitied
Rosalind's character is made up of apparently irreconcilable attributes: she is endowed with exquisite sensibility, yet with ready,
dazzling wit; she is intensely romantic, but without a sigh of sentimentalism; her heart is brimful of tenderness, while she conceals its dearest passion beneath a saucy, playful raillery, which
would be giddy, were it not for its good sense, and acute insight
into human nature. The more Orlando mopes, and grows "deject
and wretched," under the teasing treatment of the fascinating
Ganymede, the more ingenious is she in the contrivance of her pretty tortures, which every now and then reveal charming glimpses
of the love-full heart under all.
How to cite this article:
Palmer, Henrietta L. The Stratford gallery, or, The Shakespeare sisterhood. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1859. Shakespeare Online. 20 Oct. 2009. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/characters/sisterhoodrosalind.html >.