Oliver has fallen in love with Aliena at first glance, and he tells Orlando that she has consented to marry him. He vows to give to Orlando his “father’s house and all the revenue that was old Sir Roland’s . . . and here live and die a shepherd.” Orlando approves of the marriage, and it is then scheduled for the following day. Rosalind, as Ganymede, enters and tells of the whirlwind courtship of Aliena and Oliver in which they “no sooner looked but they loved.” When Orlando confesses his own “heart-heaviness” because he is without his own true love, Ganymede tells him that he, Ganymede, is knowledgeable in the art of magic and says, “If you do love Rosalind so near the heart as your gesture cries it out, when your brother marries Aliena, [then] shall you marry her [Rosalind],” and Ganymede promises to “set her before [Orlando’s] eyes to-morrow, human as she is, and without any danger.”
Phebe and Silvius join them then, and Phebe expresses her love for Ganymede, Silvius expresses his love for Phebe, Ganymede says that he loves “no woman,” and Orlando sighs for the absent Rosalind. Ganymede promises them, however, that they shall all be married on the morrow and bids them meet her then.
By having Orlando raise the question of Oliver’s sudden love for Aliena, it is possible that Shakespeare might have been trying to apologize for his departure from Lodge’s novel Rosalynde. In the novel, Aliena is rescued from a band of ruffians by an older brother. However, to further complicate the play with these added characters and incidents would have slowed its movement. Shakespeare was correct in omitting this plot development. Moreover, he had laid the groundwork for Oliver’s sudden falling in love when Phebe earlier quoted from Marlowe on the subject of “1ove at first sight” (III.v.82) and when Oliver was suddenly “converted” to goodness.
This particular parody on romantic love illustrates the extremes between Silvius and Phebe on the one hand and between Oliver and Celia on the other. In contrast, true romantic love is represented in the lead characters of Orlando and Rosalind, who at least briefly engage in conversation before succumbing to romantic love.
Of interest also in this particular scene is the matter of Rosalind’s claiming to be a magician, capable of divining the future. Rosalind here introduces a popular topic — magic, a subject that fascinated Elizabethan audiences. In addition, Rosalind’s prophesying the multiple marriages for the next day foreshadows the arrival of Hymen in the final scene.