Six Degrees: From Princess Charis to Rosalind -
as you like it cover - shakespeare

Six Degrees: From Princess Charis to Rosalind

six degrees of kool booksReady for another round of Six Degrees? Then here we go! If you’re new to the series, did you know you can also join in the fun by posting about a book and its characters on your own web site? You can find the details on the Six Degrees main page. Or if you don’t have a place to post things on the web, you can use the Six Degrees list as a great way to find a book for your next read. Or you can even play the game at home. I actually have played this with my kids in the car. It’s a great way to pass the time when you’re on a long trip or stuck in traffic.

Last week Jenelle through out a literary boomerang, sharing her thoughts on how King Arthur was like…King Arthur! Indeed, though there were many differences between Thomas Mallory’s version of Camelot and Steven Lawhead’s the two Arthurs did seem to be cast from the same mold. There several new characters in Lawhead’s version that I found intriguing, among them, Princess Charis, a headstrong survivor from the lost city of Atlantis, no less. Jenelle described her as, “intelligent”, “cunning”, and someone who “cares deeply for others”. Jenelle goes on to say that, “because of her…quick wits, she is able to save a handful of her people…when Atlantis sinks”. This description reminded me of Shakespeare’s delightful and resourceful heroine, Rosalind, from his play, As You Like It.

Rosalind is certainly clever, caring, and goes to considerable effort to help her friends. While she does not actually save her friends from death, she does cleverly arrange for most of the main characters in the play to end the story happily married, thus “saving” them from their lovesick condition, as it were. Though Rosalind’s ruse of disguising herself as a man probably goes on far longer than it should have, it does allow Shakespeare to show us that romance is both wonderful and rather absurd all at the same time.

as you like it cover - shakespeareThe object of Rosalind’s affection is Orlando, a handsome, physically strong nobleman who, while he is not as clever as his beloved Rosalind, is certainly a worthy enough gentleman to woo her.

Rosalind also shares a dear friendship with Celia, the daughter of Duke Ferdinand, your typical power-hungry noble. In a complicated relationship, Ferdinand has seized the throne of his brother, Duke Senior (Rosalind’s father) and banished him into the Forest of Ardenne. Celia is loving and kind, though at times a bit emotional. When Rosalind is later banished from court as well, she follows her friend into the forest as well. Duke Senior is essentially living like Robin Hood in exile, but seems well content to be out amidst the wild woods and away from the machinations of court. The merits of the pastoral life are one of the themes of the play.

While Rosalind and Duke Senior have been rejected by Ferdinand, Orlando is in a similar situation with his brother Oliver. After the death of their father Oliver essentially treats Orlando like a castoff. He dislikes his brother to the point of seeking to have him killed by the wrestling champion Charles. He convinces Charles that Orlando is a no-good, underhanded nobleman (when in fact this would be a better description of Oliver). Charles is more or less and Elizabethan “jock” with not a lot upstairs, but when Orlando later saves his life he at least has enough character to change his opinion of Oliver’s much maligned younger brother.

Rounding out the cast are Touchstone the jester, a ribald, baseless fellow who is the equivalent of many modern day comedians, basically with his mind in the gutter and lacking really much genuine humor. Lastly, I will mention Phebe and Silvius. This star crossed pair seems an unlikely match with Phebe shrewishly rejecting every advance of her fellow shepherd Silvius. Silvius for his part seems to lack even a shred of dignity when it comes to wooing the object of his affection. If Rosalind had not intervened, these two probably would never have gotten together, but with Shakespeare’s comedies, you know every one that is even remotely eligible to be married will end up walking down the aisle by the end and so it is with this contrarian couple.

Scifi, fantasy, period fiction, comedy, Six Degrees has it all, doesn’t it? Check back next week to see what we come up with!

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