Shakespeare on Women and Roses

for women are as flowers“For women are as roses, whose fair flower
Being once display’d, doth fall that very hour.”

(Twelfth Night, act 2, sc. 4)

Tips for Use. The statement suggests a double standard and a trace of ‘macho’ philosophy. You may just use ‘Women are as roses’. But if she is an insufferable lady very full of herself who puts you down and off, quote the lines fully. To quip about aging is not good. The subject is more sensitive than many women (as well as some men) are likely to admit. As sanctioned by Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest”, a woman is perfectly right in making some alterations. Indeed no woman, she says, should ever be quite accurate about her age. And later she adds, “Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years. To my own knowledge she has been thrty-five ever since she arrived at the age of forty, which was many years ago now.”

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In the play. The Duke Orsino asks Cesario (who is actually Viola strategically dressed in a man’s disguise) if he Cesario loves a woman and what type of woman is she. Cesario, secretly in love with Duke Orsino says that her type of woman is of Orsino’s age. ‘Too old’, he says and then continues giving reasons why men (in this case Cesario) should always marry women younger than themselves.

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