I've not yet read all of Shakespeare's plays, but I do not seem to care much for his plays about love, including Romeo and Juliet
. So far, the only two exceptions to this have been The Taming of the Shrew
and Love's Labour's Lost
The problem I have with Shakespeare's love plays is that they are almost all too cloying, too simpleminded and simplistic, and they almost seem like juvenile depictions of love. Shakespeare can do the darker emotions like hate, jealousy, revenge, vanity, murderous ambition, and rage so well, but love? Well, to me his plays about love lack the growth process that is necessary for love. With very few exceptions, people do not fall madly in love with one another based on a passing glance, or a brief conversation. Sparks may fly, there may be lust, there may be interest, but the kind of I-must-wed-you-or-I-will-*die* kind of love that Shakespeare gives us just doesn't happen that fast in real life.
As You Like It is just another example of a play that gives us nothing but a whispy, insubstantial, unrealistic depiction of love. Again a couple falls madly in love with one another on nothing more than a brief encounter. Then the female dresses up as a male, and the man who loves her so madly that he can think of nothing but her face and eyes fails to recognize her, even in close proximity to her, because she's traded in her dress for the latest in woodsman wear. Of course, it's hard to blame him for this, since he probably didn't have time to fully commit her face to memory during that one brief encounter they had before his world was turned upside down by his burning love for her. This is just silliness. Give me Petruchio and Kate any day. Yes, their relationship was volatile, hostile, even abusive at times. But it grew from a real place. Their personalities clashed, their opinions differed, neither of them saw the other as an angel sent from heaven, and isn't this a much more authentic depiction of the birth and rebirth that love is? It's often messy, and full of conflict, and vibrating with the tension of two personalities learning to live together because they somehow fulfill each other. If Kate put on men's clothes, Petruchio would recognize her anywhere because he loves her soul with his soul, not just her face with his eyes. Orlando and Rosalind did not impress me at all.
What I did like about As You Like It, however, was the relationship between Rosalind and her beloved cousin Celia. There was a past there, an authenticity, a true devotion to one another that was lacking in all of the other relationships in this play, and I was impressed that Shakespeare put their relationship on such full display.