Imaginative Language and the Simile in As You Like It

M Burdick Smith


Shakespeare’s As You Like It constructs new ways of imagining female agency through figurative language. In her conversations with Orlando, Rosalind’s similes teach him how to be a man, positioning herself as the authority, and she uses similes to open up new avenues of discourse with Orlando. Tracing the use of simile in the play illustrates the figure’s instructive potential for both characters and audiences, and I demonstrate that speakers use the semantic ambiguity of rhetorical figures to embed instructional cues. Emphasizing the simile’s utility provides new ways to conceptualize how the theater stimulated audiences through language.


Shakespeare; rhetoric; simile

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