After Orlando is late to meet Rosalind in the forest, in Act 3, Scene 4, Celia ironically refers to him as a “brave” man:
O, that’s a brave man. He writes brave verses, speaks brave words, swears brave oaths, and breaks them bravely, quite traverse, athwart the heart of his lover, as a puny tilter that spurs his horse but on one side breaks his staff like a noble goose; but all’s brave that youth mounts and folly guides.
Celia says Orlando is brave in how he writes and speaks (“brave verses”), and even makes “brave” (demanding) promises, but just as boldly breaks them. Celia compares him to a bad jouster, who breaks his lance by aiming sideways (rather than head-on). But, she says drily, everything a man does is brave when he is “riding” his youth, and guided by his folly.
Celia’s use of “brave” is ironic here: of course, there is nothing courageous about breaking promises to a lover. In fact, Orlando seems to be acting cowardly by not living up to the words of his “brave” poems and entreaties to Rosalind. Celia believes that Orlando sees himself as brave, because he is young and guided by his own foolishness. Misled by his ego (and Rosalind’s disguise), he cannot see that he is so far off the mark in terms of winning over Rosalind (“a puny tilter”).
Though Orlando eventually does meet Rosalind, his mistake in this scene warrants Celia’s chastisement, and the irony in Celia’s speech points to an irony in Orlando’s character. While he is brave enough to wrestle a champion like Charles, he is afraid of being in love (hence his visit to “Ganymede”); his need for Rosalind’s instruction is glaring.
In Act 4, Scene 1, after Jaques explains that having traveled is the source of his melancholy, Rosalind responds with gentle irony:
Farewell, Monsieur Traveller.
Look you lisp and wear strange suits, disable all
the benefits of your own country, be out of love with
your nativity, and almost chide God for making
you that countenance you are, or I will scarce think you
have swam in a gondola.
Rosalind warns that if Jaques does not adopt a foreign accent (“look you lisp”), wear strange clothes (“suits”), deny every good quality about his own country (“disable all the benefits…”), fall out of love with his hometown (“nativity”), and complain to God about his appearance (“chide God”), no one will believe he has been abroad. If he doesn’t, Rosalind says, she can scarcely believe he has been to Italy (“swam in a gondola”).
Of course, Rosalind does not actually believe that Jaques should take on so many affected marks of travel. But she is making the point that these are as affected as his public proclamations of melancholy brought on by “the sundry contemplation” of his travels. Rosalind is making fun of Jaques’s conformity to cliche.
This scene plays into the key theme of foolishness in As You Like It. The fool Touchstone is wise, but acts foolish by choice. Jaques’s foolishness is unintentional, and pent up in the fact that he is unaware of his own ignorance and the impression he makes on others. It is this lack of self-awareness that Rosalind cannot help but poke fun at here.