Were it not better, 
Because that I am more than common tall, 
That I did suit me all points like a man? 
A gallant curtal-ax upon my thigh, 
A boar-spear in my hand, and in my heart 
Lie there what hidden woman’s fear there will, 
We’ll have a swashing and a martial outside— 
As many other mannish cowards have 
That do outface it with their semblances. 
(Act 1, scene 3, lines 121–29)

Near the end of act 1, Rosalind makes her plan to adopt a disguise and, alongside Celia and Touchstone, flee to the Forest of Arden. Though initially a matter of self-protection, her disguise will enable her to play with gender in ways that create new possibilities for life and love in Arden. She recognizes as much in this speech, where her description of a masculine “outside” implies a correlative feminine “inside.” As the ambiguous Ganymede, Rosaline will be able to harness a flexible gender identity as part of her attempt to educate her companions, developing them into better versions of themselves and maneuvering them into ideal love matches.

Duke Senior: Sweet are the uses of adversity, 
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, 
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head. 
And this our life, exempt from public haunt, 
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, 
Sermons in stones, and good in everything. 
Amiens: I would not change it. Happy is your Grace, 
That can translate the stubbornness of fortune 
Into so quiet and so sweet a style. 
(Act 2, scene 1, lines 12–20)

This exchange reflects Duke Senior’s remarkable ability to adapt to the curveball he was thrown when his brother, Duke Fredrick, usurped his throne. Amiens views the exiled duke’s capacity to “translate the stubbornness of fortune” into something positive as a great virtue. Indeed, he sees it as a sign that, despite being in exile, Duke Senior possesses an inherent gentility that makes him the rightful ruler. Who else but a true duke could establish a new court that, despite being located in a country forest, retains “so quiet and so sweet a style” as that to which they were accustomed in the city?

There was never anything so sudden but the fight of two rams, and Caesar’s thrasonical brag of “I came, saw, and overcame.” For your brother and my sister no sooner met but they looked, no sooner looked but they sighed, no sooner sighed but they asked one another the reason, no sooner knew the reason but they sought the remedy; and in these degrees have they made a pair of stairs to marriage, which they will climb incontinent, or else be incontinent before marriage. 
(Act 5, scene 2, lines 31–41)

Rosalind speaks these words to Orlando, describing how his brother, Oliver, has rather rapidly fallen in love with Celia, who is still in disguise as Aliena. So quick was their courtship that they were betrothed “no sooner” than they met. The absurd pace of their romance may seem suspect, given all the play has taught us about the need for proper love matches to be balanced and reasonable. However, this particular love match also reflects the power of the forest, as a symbolic environment of transformation, to convert people into better versions of themselves. Oliver’s conversion from a spiteful schemer to a man capable of generosity and love prefigures another significant conversion to be revealed in the play’s final scene: Duke Frederick’s withdrawal from the dukedom to pursue the ascetic life of a hermit.