Rosalind and Celia

Biblical and Renaissance Ideals of Friendship in Shakespeare's As You Like It

  • Gyöngyi Matus-Kassai


This paper focuses on the relationship between Rosalind and Celia from Shakespeare’s As You Like It. The study investigates a hitherto undiscovered link between their friendship and that of David and Jonathan from the Bible. Both friendships are analysed in the context of the classical and Renaissance discourse on amicitia perfecta, highlighting the most important features of idealised friendship from Cicero’s De Amicitia and Montaigne’s essay On Friendship. Furthermore, amicitia perfecta is proposed as a new, alternative framework to understand the relationship of Rosalind and Celia, which is often discussed in the context of homoerotic desire. Finally, the essay emphasises the significance of the fact that the ideal friends presented in Shakespeare’s comedy are female in a culture when women were thought to be excluded from, and incapable of, true friendship.