The main female characters Anne Elliot from Persuasion by Jane Austen and Rosalind from As You Like It y Shakespeare have the similar problems and circumstances that prevent them from happy life with their lovers. The timid and composed Anne Elliot finds a number of barriers and faces with the rivals, trying to maintain the hope about the future with her love.
However, the social opinion is too strong and the girl suffers under pressure of people’s influence. As the result, Anne Elliot is close to lose her love, being persuaded by people. On the other hand, Rosalind is intelligent, beautiful girl with a quick wit who presents herself as a leader. This girl is brave and has a strong character.
Although the circumstances in both stories are quite similar and both girls have to fight for their love, Rosalind demonstrates more ability to cope with a number of the problems and to overcome substantial obstacles to end up with the man she loves and, therefore, Rosalind’s obstacles prove that she is greater.
The romance tale Persuasion describes the story of the timid Anne Elliot and exquisite Captain Wentworth. 27-years old Anne is kind, intelligent woman with an elegant mind. In spite of her sisters and father who are selfish and vain, Anne seems more quite and humble. Living in the society where timid people would be rather abandoned than respected, Anne is isolated in her own narrow sphere.
The main characteristic of this heroine is her inclination to be easily persuaded by others. Although she is intelligent and kind, she “was nobody with either father or sister; her word had no weight; her convenience was always to give way; she was only Anne” (Austen). Anne’s young sister is described as the manipulative hypochondriac, spoiled and unkind and the elder one is vain.
Being in the middle of those people, Anne absorbs their negative reactions and words against her own reflections and feeling about Captain Wentworth. He is ready to reject her feelings and lose her love under pressure of influence and persuasion. In this context, Anne can be considered as the girl without any strengths of character. Her family members are dominated over her.
Although Anne is a heroine of the novel; the real heroine is a girl who can protect her points of view and feelings and who is ready to struggle against the social opinion. Thus, Rosalind, the character of the comedy As You Like It, demonstrates a will to control her life by herself.
Rosalind is the daughter of Duke Senior who was banished. She demonstrates herself as the adventurous girls who angers her uncle and runs away from his court to the Forest of Arden, trying to get more freedom. She disguises and changes the name, pretending to be a man named Ganymede. In this way, she wants to protect her life, because woman is more vulnerable. She understands that, in her age, girl should be more passive and silent:
A gallant curtle-axe upon my thigh,
A boar-spear in my hand; and – in my heart
Lie there what hidden woman’s fear there will –
We’ll have a swashing and a martial outside,
As many other mannish cowards have
That do outface it with their semblances. (Shakespeare)
Shakespeare created very interesting and new character that does not scared to make fun of the difficult circumstances and people. Obviously, Rosalind has a very strong character and this girl knows how to overcome substantial obstacles to end up with her love; moreover, she knows how to resist all barriers in her life and to withstand the negative influences and opinions. In fact, she does not care about any opinion; this girl is too strong to be dominated or persuaded by someone.
The relationships between Rosalind and Orlando open the conversation about the gender roles within the society. The challenges that the characters face during the comedy motivate them to change the typical gender roles.
There are the strong preconceptions about their relationships within the usual society of the court. However, Rosalind does not want to give up and to submit to the public opinion. Rosalind pretends that she is a man and, in fact, she does it well. She is very self-aware and, obviously, much more strong than Anne Elliot.
Even in the matters of love, Rosalind demonstrates that she has a cool head and wants to prove her power. When Orlando claims that he will die without her, she answers that “men have died from time to time, and/ worms have eaten them, but not for love” (Shakespeare). One can notice that Rosalind seems quite cynical and sometimes treats her lover in a way that, on her opinion, seems funny; however, Orlando suffers a lot.
Thus, when Orlando says that he will love her forever, Rosalind answers “no, no, Orlando;/ men are April when they woo, December when they wed:/ maids are May when they are maids, but the sky/ changes when they are wives” (Shakespeare). In spite of majority of girls, Rosalind does not want to hurry up with marriage and supposes that, after marriage, Orlando will lose his interest so fast.
On the other hand, Anne Elliot seems less realistic and more dreamer. Obviously, even when the circumstances seem complicated and insoluble, it is better to fight. Only one who struggle for his happiness, will get it.
However, Anne Elliot prefers to be dominated by people and suffers alone. Such way of life which is possible for Rosalind is absolutely unreal for Anne. She cannot imagine herself fighting and protecting her opinion. It is evident that such person would be always a puppet in the hands of others. She does not try to make the steps towards her love; she just waits for her fate.
However, all other characters do not want to make her happy. To some extent, they enjoy of the process to control Anne’s life and get the advantage from it. In any case, Anne is a positive character. Comparing with other characters, she is the most sympathetic one. However, her incapability to be strong and independent makes her less interesting as the main hero. Many people can consider her as a victim of the circumstances. However, in fact, her problems are caused by the weak character.
At the same time, Anne is the person who can understand people and to empathize them. Therefore, everyone wants to share with her and to get the advice and support. Why then she is unable to improve her own life? Anne loses the man of her dreams, being persuaded by Lady Russell who says that only one right way is to leave Captain. In spite of the emotional pain, Anne does it and tries to devote her life to the care about nephew and help other people. She is ready to die alone as an old maid.
She does not expect that one day Captain Wentworth will back to her life; she does not keep the hope and just accepts the life she has now. Driven by the good intentions, Anne Elliot forgets about her own needs and sacrifices her life. However, it is now clear why and what for she does this action. Who will get the advantage of it? And, moreover, if she married Captain, she would be able to continue doing the good affairs as before.
Although both Anne Elliot from Persuasion by Jane Austen and Rosalind from As You Like It y Shakespeare face the problems and have the similar circumstances that do not allow them to reunion with their loves, although, in both situations, the social opinion is against them, the girls demonstrate different reaction and act in different way.
While Anne Elliot is persuaded by other people and leaves her loved man due to the persuasion of Lady Russell, Rosalind does not give up and escapes from the uncle’s court, pretending that she is a man.
Even the girls’ attitudes to their lover are different: Rosalind plays with Orlando, demonstrating her independence, while Anne Elliot is dependent on everything and everyone. This girl sacrifices her life and neglects her feelings. She prefers to suffer than to struggle and fight for her happiness. Therefore, obviously, the way how Shakespeare’s Rosalind overcomes the obstacles proves that is greater one; her problems are bigger, but she copes with them.
Austen, Jane. Persuasion. Gutenberg.net. Web. 08 Apr. 2012.
Shakespeare, William. As You Like It. Gutenberg.net. Web. 08 Apr. 2012. < http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/1121/pg1121.html>