University of Chicago's Basic
Program of Liberal Arts Education
for Adults + Graham School
Claudia Traudt
Eros & Power, Hidden & Confused:
Shakespeare's As You Like It and Twelfth Night

“If I were a woman…”
–Rosalind, As You Like It, epilogue

As You Like It and Twelfth Night are comedies par excellence—romantic comedies with zest. They are classically comic—in the definitive sense that, profoundly, they have a happy ending. Lovers are sorted out—mainly rightfully. In both works, indelible characters pierce us—Rosalind/Ganymede, Orlando, Celia, Touchstone, Jacques, disastrous lovers Phoebe and Silvius; Orsino, Cesario/Viola, Olivia, Malvolio, Feste, Aguecheek and Sir Toby Belch. Limpid language, gender-unsettlings, disguises, dilemmas, outlandishness delight us. The works seize us—loss, longing, threat, death’s dangers, ignorance and knowledge (and the powers inherent in them), hilariousness, accident, intention, poignancy ostensible magic—the outright magic of poetry and structure.