Anne Elliot and Rosalind are two characters in Jane Austen’s Persuasion and William Shakespeare’s As You Like It respectively. Each of the characters is faced with substantial obstacles in their quest for love. This essay argues that Anne Elliot encountered more obstacles to her love than Rosalind.
Her path to love was indeed filled with many obstacles such as; her family including Lady Russell who wants her to marry William Elliot, Wentworth’s jealousy, Louisa’s relation with her lover, and finally, Wentworth’s anger of being rejected by her. In Rosalind’s case, her challenges were; the obstacles brought about by the repressive society, Phebe’s love for her and her disguise as a man. Her obstacles prove to be fewer as compared to those of Anne Elliot.
In As You Like It, the first obstacle faced Rosalind in her pursuit for love is brought about by the repressive society, which makes her leave the court. Duke Frederick demands that Rosalind leaves the royal court and he goes on to threaten her with a death sentence if she was to be found within twenty miles of the court, “You, cousin. Within these ten days if that thou beast found. So near our public court as twenty miles, Thou diest for it” (1.3.40-43).
He does not even give her a chance to defend her innocence hence Duke Frederick’s decision is very unfair and rough. This is the obstacle, which leads her to leave the court and start her journey to the Forest of Arden. The duke saw her as a threat as he thought that she might claim her father’s position.
He proceeds to discourage his daughter, Celia, from being friends with her. Being her best friend, Celia decides not to abandon her but instead support her. She even accompanies her to the Forest of Arden. It becomes a coincidence that Orlando was also in the Forest of Arden and when Rosalind reveals her true identity, their love with Orlando becomes a reality. Her father regains his throne as the duke once again and Rosalind’s obstacles are brought to an end (Shakespear, 1998).
Rosalind encounters another barrier when Phebe falls in love with her, Ganymede, thinking that she was a man. Ganymede’s cruel speech of mocking has a big influence that leads Phebe to love her, “Dead shepherd, now I find thy saw of might, who ever loved that loved not at first sight? (3.5.81)” This is an obstacle because it prevents Rosalind from being with Orlando.
Silvius delivers a letter from Phebe to her and she resolves to set straight the state of affairs by helping Silvius win back Phebe and finally discloses her identity. After this revelation, the scene ends in a happy marriage (Shakespear, 1998).
Rosalind’s disguise as a man is again one of the greatest obstacles to her love. After her escape from the court, she decides to travel in disguise to protect herself and Celia. Being close to Orlando, the man she loves, as his friend and not the girl he loved is so difficult. This hurts her as she could not express her feelings; “There is a man haunts the forest that abuses our young plants with carving “Rosalind” on their barks, hangs odes upon hawthorns and elegies on brambles, all, forsooth, deifying the name of Rosalind” (3.2.352-357).
She overcomes this by letting him treat her as his lover, Rosalind. Furthermore, she takes advantage of being Ganymede to teach him how to perfectly treat a woman he loves, “I would cure you if you would but call me Rosalind and come every day to my court and woo me” (3.3.416). This way, she is able to feel Orlando’s love for her though Orlando does not realize this (Shakespear, 1998).
Although Rosalind faced all of these challenges, they prove to be fewer as compared to those of Anne Elliot. Briefly, Orlando was shy to declare his love for her and Rosalind had to learn this through disguise. She therefore, underwent no painful experience as Anne; as a matter of fact hers was like an adventure.
Anne had a family and a friend who kept on persuading her to marry Mr. Elliot, Wentworth’s jealousy and Louisa’s relation with Wentworth. As if those were not enough, Anne had to also undergo eight years of emotional torture after the sudden break-up with her fiance who had then gotten angry at her rejection and went away on a military mission (Austen, 2008).
Anne’s family and Lady Russell tries to convince Anne to marry Mr.Elliot who for Anne, was a bad match. Lady Russell wants to see Anne holding her mother’s place by marrying him, “ Lady Ruessll … hope of seeing him receive the hand of her beloved Anne in Kellynuch church, in the course of the following autumn” (p.131).
Mr.Smith tells Anne of Mr. Elliot’s plans, “Mr.Elliot is a man without heart or conscience; a designing, wary, cold- blooded being, who thinks only of himself.. he is black at heart, hollow and black! (p.75)” Surely, Lady Russell’s hope of making Anne and Mr. Elliot together disappoints Anne.
Unlike Lady Elliot, Rosalind’s best friend, Celia, kept on encouraging her to persue the man she loved and never at once did she act as a barrier toward her love for Orlando. In fact, while rosalind was disguised as a man, her best friend knew about it and continued to support her even in the forest of Ardena. Anne thus was unlucky to have a friend who offered no support to her at all (Austen, 2008).
Moreover, Mr. Elliot acts as an obstacle in Anne’s life by making Wentworth jealous. Wentworth discovered William Elliot and Anne as they “walked off together, her arm under his, a gentle and embarrassed glance” (p. 143). At the concert, Anne tries to get close to Wentworth but Mr. Elliot sits next to her making the situation even worse.
This makes Wentworth assume that there is something between them. Anne is very embarrassed to go to the man whom she had rejected eight years before and say that she loved him and not Mr. Elliot (Austen, 2008). On the other hand, there is no one in Rosalind’s life who comes between her and Orlando to make him jealous.
Then again, Wentworth enters into a relationship with Louisa and this makes Anne think that she has lost him forever. The thought of it makes Anne so discouraged but even then, she does not give up. She continues to pursue him and finally wins back his love for her (Austen, 2008). For Rosalind there were no such encounters as no one comes between her and Orlando.
Finally, Anne managed to break down the barriers to their love with Wentworth. He was mad at her rejection and angry towards her and this had caused him to leave the country, “his feeling himself ill-used by so forced a relinquishment- He had left the country in consequence,” (p. 28). When he had come back and realized that Anne and Mr. Elliot were close, it made him think that there was a thing between them and this deepened his anger toward her.
To Anne, this was a great obstacle since she had to find a way of convincing him that she had loved him all that time, that she had been persuaded to reject his proposal and that she felt nothing for Mr. Elliot. Nevertheless, she succeeds in winning back his love for her in the end. Hence their reunion could be described as “more tried, more fixed in knowledge of each other’s character, truth, and attachment” (p. 194).
In other words, they had come to value each other for their strength of character thus their love was established upon the friendship and acknowledgement of each other’s worth, which gave their relationship a much stronger foundation (Austen, 2008). In Rosalind’s and Orlando’s case, their love was based on discovering and unfolding their love for each other; a love that had taken so log to confess since their first encounter with one another.
Of the two, Anne Elliot encountered the most obstacles to her love. Though Rosalind had to devise ways to counter tradition so as to reach her love, she did not undergo as much pain as Anne who had to overcome many challenges before winning Wentworth back. There were persuasions by her friend and family to marry Mr. Elliot on account of his social status, Wentworth’s jealousy, Louisa’s relation with Wentworth, and lastly Wentworth’s anger of being rejected by her.
Rosalind’s love can be said to have been more filled with adventures than obstacles. While in disguise, she was able to learn many things concerning love that she could not have known as Rosalind. Unlike Rosalind, Anne had to fight with more practical barriers and undergo painful experiences in order to win back her beloved. Indeed her path to love was filled with many obstacles.
Austen, J. (2008). Persuasion. (J. Kinsley, & D. S. Lynch, Eds.) New York: Oxford University Press.
Shakespear, W. (1998). As You Like It. (A. Gilman, Trans.) Signet Classics.