Scene 3.5 - In the Forest of Arden.
Silvius, the hapless shepherd, is pleading with a shepherdess named Phoebe to take pity upon him. He insists that he will die without her love, and that when she is scornful towards him, she is more cruel than any executioner. Phoebe answers, sounding frustrated as well as scornful: she tells Silvius that she doesn't want to hurt him, but she does not and never will love him. She says angrily that it's ridiculous for him to compare her eyes to murderers, and other such poetic exaggerations - and to prove the point, she scowls at him ferociously, and demands of him whether or not he has actually just dropped down dead. It is clear that Silvius and Phoebe have been having arguments just like this one for a long, long time; by this point, Silvius is desperate for Phoebe's love, and Phoebe is maddened because Silvius won't accept her rejection and leave her alone.
Rosalind, Celia, and Corin have quietly stolen in to watch the scene. Finally, Silvius warns Phoebe that some day she, too, will know the pain of being unrequitedly in love; she haughtily answers that when that happens, he may laugh at her as she now laughs at him. Rosalind, unable to sit by quietly any longer, suddenly springs up and strides forward to yell at Phoebe and Silvius. She - or, rather, "he," for Rosalind is as usual disguised as "Ganymede" - tells Phoebe that Phoebe is not nearly as beautiful as she thinks she is, and that it is a foolish pride which makes her scorn the love of this honest shepherd. "Ganymede" advises Phoebe to accept Silvius' offer, for not many other people would want her.
But Phoebe reacts strangely to "Ganymede's" insults. She stares at "him" with an odd intensity, and begs him to keep on insulting her; she says that she'd rather listen to him shout at her than listen to Silvius compliment her. "Ganymede," correctly interpreting the symptoms, says in astonishment that just as Silvius has fallen in love with Phoebe's ugliness, Phoebe seems to have fallen in love with "Ganymede's" anger. "Ganymede" warns Phoebe not to love him, since he is dishonest and is not what he seems - "I am falser than vows made in wine," he says - and adds that he will never return her love. But then, in the same breath, "Ganymede" tells Phoebe where his house is, as if inviting her to pursue him. Urging Silvius to keep trying and telling Phoebe she had better take Silvius' offer, "Ganymede" gathers up Corin and "Aliena"/Celia, and leaves.
But Phoebe cannot forget "Ganymede" so easily. She has fallen in love at first sight: even though the young "man" was insulting her the whole time, Phoebe's heart has been stolen by the sharpness of "his" wit, the fairness of his skin his graceful height, the shapeliness of his legs, and even the arrogant, manly way he wears his own pride and scornfulness. Talking half to herself and half to Silvius, Phoebe tries to decide whether she loves or hates the young man (it doesn't seem like much of a contest). She winds up deciding she will write "Ganymede" a "very taunting" letter, which presumably will serve the purpose both of insulting him and of letting him know of her love. Turning to Silvius, she repeats that she doesn't love him, but adds that since he knows how to talk about love, she has some work for him to do, if he's willing to help her with it and not expect anything more. Silvius replies that his love is so pure, he'd do anything for Phoebe.
Browse all Studyworld Studynotes|
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Scenes 2.1, 2.2, 2.3
Scenes 2.4, 2.5, and 2.6
Scenes 4.2 and 4.3
Scenes 5.1 and 5.2
Scenes 5.3 and 5.4