As You Like It


William Shakespeare

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on As You Like It makes teaching easy.

Deception, Disguise, and Gender Theme Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
Themes and Colors
Deception, Disguise, and Gender Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Country vs. City Theme Icon
Love and Rivalry Between Relatives Theme Icon
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in As You Like It, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Deception, Disguise, and Gender Theme Icon

As You Like It is structured around acts of deception that complicate the play’s narrative and allow for events to unfold that otherwise might not. The primary tricksters of the play are Rosalind and Celia, who disguise themselves in order to go undetected into the Forest of Arden. Rosalind dresses as a man and goes by the name “Ganymede”; Celia pretends to be a shepherdess and calls herself “Aliena.” By constructing false appearances and presenting themselves dishonestly, Rosalind and Celia incidentally inspire their lovers to act more truly and honestly toward them. When Rosalind is dressed as Ganymede, Orlando reveals to her how deeply he loves Rosalind, without knowing that he is addressing her. Rosalind’s disguise thus permits Orlando to speak more openly and perhaps less intentionally than he might if he knew the true identity of his conversation partner. Celia’s attire does not alter her seeming identity as radically as Rosalind’s, but it, too, changes her lover’s initial conduct around her, by making her seem to be not of courtly upbringing. Whereas Rosalind’s disguise provokes honest speech from her lover, Celia’s tests the honesty of her lover’s love: the fact that Oliver falls in love with her despite her shepherdess’s exterior indicates how genuine his love is.

When Rosalind and Celia act out roles, they alter not only the way they act, but also the way that other people act toward them. These instances of disguise and deception, along with serving as important plot points and providing great comic potential, thus represent the playacting and deception performed by every character in the play and, moreover, by every person in his or her life. They illustrate and exaggerate the extent to which “All the world’s a stage/ And every man and woman merely players.”

Related Themes from Other Texts
Compare and contrast themes from other texts to this theme…
Get the entire As You Like It LitChart as a printable PDF.
As You Like It PDF

Deception, Disguise, and Gender Quotes in As You Like It

Below you will find the important quotes in As You Like It related to the theme of Deception, Disguise, and Gender.
Act 2, Scene 7 Quotes

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.

Related Characters: Jaques (speaker)
Related Literary Devices:
Page Number: 2.7.146-150
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 5, Scene 2 Quotes

[To Orlando] As you love Rosalind, meet. [To Silvius] As you love Phebe, meet. And as I love no woman, I’ll meet. So fare you well.

Related Characters: Rosalind (speaker), Orlando, Silvius, Phebe
Related Symbols: Ganymede
Page Number: 5.3.124-126
Explanation and Analysis: