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When speaking about Cleopatras undying charm Enobarbus stated Age cannot wither her nor custom stale Her infinite variety This is how many readers feel about the heroines in Shakespeares comedies In both Twelfth Night and As You Like It the action revolves around strong female characters Both Viola and Rosalind show immense strength courage and power highly uncharacteristic of women in Elizabethan literature In addition to their strength the women also retain traditional feminine characteristics Despite their many similar traits many differences can also be found in the characterization of Viola and Rosalind In the exposition of As You Like It we discover that Rosalinds father the Duke of Burgundy has been exiled by his brother Duke Frederick Even though Rosalind is initially permitted to stay because of her close relationship with the Dukes daughter Celia the Dukes allowance is quickly revoked and Rosalind is forced to join her father in exile in the forest of Arden Since it would not be safe for a woman to travel unaccompanied the wise Rosalind stated Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold Iiii 112 and decided to dress as a man and call herself Ganymede When confronted with a similar situation Viola from the Twelfth Night took similar actions Viola finds herself ship-wrecked and alone and yet the first words out of her mouth What country friends is this Iii 1 convey a certain calmness and rationality Since like Rosalind it is not safe for Viola to wander the countryside alone she decides to dress as a man and work as a page under the name Cesario Viola finds herself completely dependent on herself however it is her instinct to except rather than challenge circumstances Finding herself in a difficult position in a strange country she spends little time bemoaning the harshness of her fate but immediately sets to work with characteristic practical energy to figure out a way to improve her situation In order to appreciate
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