The play takes two important steps toward its resolution. First, Rosalind begins to tire of the game she plays. Her disguise as Ganymede allows her a number of freedoms that she could not enjoy as a woman: she can leave court, travel safely into the forest, express sexual desire, and initiate a romantic courtship. But her disguise also has its limitations. After all, it disables her from consummating her relationship with Orlando, and Rosalind does not relish the idea of acting out the indefinitely protracted desire depicted in Petrarch’s love poetry. If Orlando were willing to test the bounds of their fiction and have sex with Ganymede, he would discover Rosalind’s true identity. Even if Orlando already suspects that Ganymede is Rosalind, as some critics suggest he must, he could not very well pursue a sexual relationship with her unless they were properly married. To do so would be to compromise Rosalind’s virtue and denigrate her incomparably delightful character. Besides, Rosalind’s disguise is meant to be temporary yet powerful, just like the temporary yet critical move to Arden.
Elizabethans placed a great importance upon outward markers of identity such as dress and behavior. A cross-dressing woman presents a very amusing spectacle temporarily, but the ruse cannot be maintained indefinitely. Such a sustained subversion of the social order would bring chaos, and Shakespeare takes care to remind us that a woman in man’s clothing is still a woman, returning to his Elizabethan audience’s expectations of gendered behavior. For example, upon hearing of Orlando’s trial with the lioness, Rosalind faints, prompting Oliver to remark that she lacks “a man’s heart”, to which she responds, “So I do; but, i’faith, I should have been a woman by right”. This call and response signals to the audience that the game is still a game, that Ganymede is little more than a pair of pants, and that Rosalind, though smart enough to avoid temporarily her proper place in society, is ultimately willing to resume it.
The arrival of Oliver offers a second movement toward resolution. When the previously evil Oliver steps foot in Arden, he is transformed into the loving brother he never was before. This transformation speaks to the mutability of the human experience: people can change and, as As You Like It insists, can change for the better. Certainly this transformation has much to do with the movement from court into the country. Once removed from the politics and pressures of life at court, the obstacles, greed, and petty jealousies that separate the brothers dissolve. Although the play at several points satirizes the pastoral mode for its simplicity and unreality, here it indulges in the pastoral fantasy that nature can heal the wounds inflicted by the artificial and corrupt hierarchies of the man-made world.