According to Smith, “ In the Early Modern period, there was no such thing as homosexual identity, at the least not in the way we perceive it today, so those experiencing homoerotic desires in the play seeks representations in identities that already exist” (Smith,B.R.1994:12). With regards to my literature review, I will divide it into two sections; history & customs and academic writing of Shakespeare’s As you like it. As stated my research question wants to explore the use of Homoeroticism in Shakespeare’s As you like it, by doing so did it influence the Elizabethan society to greater or lesser degree? Firstly I will look at Shakespeare’s As you like it and focus on the utterances of the characters, especially the scenes which transpires
The subject matter is reflective of Melville's attempt to construct a social commentary about homosexuality. This story is a vehicle to express something entirely unrelated to the surface meanings. Sexual references are often disguised by Melville's clever use of diction. Such references take many forms in the text but become most evident in Melville's description of a scene. Chapter 94, A Squeeze of the Hand, is illustrative of this.
The play, Twelfth Night, written by William Shakespeare was originally written and intended to be performed by males. Twelfth Night developed as a center of discussion for homosexuality and homoeroticism, which are presented in the play. This is seen between the characters, Antonio and Sebastian, and Viola. As seen in the play, a lady called Viola also disguised as Cesario. To survive in Illyria, Viola decided to act as a male to be able to secure a job as a eunuch for Duke Orsino who she later developed feelings for.
Unlike Byron, Shakespeare's homosexual affair, fictitious or genuine, does not seem to involve a physical relationship but rather an emotional bond between two men. The existence of homosexual desires is clearly demonstrated in Shakespeare's "Sonnet 20" and Byron's "To Thyrza." However, these poets' environment dictated the sexual metamorphosis that enabled them to maintain their sexual ambiguity and protect their anonymity in their respective works. These poems provide a framework to serve the duality that reflected this era in British society; preservation of a nation's preferred orthodox sexual identity, and the reality of its' authors heretical erotic feelings.
Joss Whedon’s film-based appropriation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing is one that many critics would argue supports Ben Jonson’s remark that Shakespeare was “not of an age, but for all time.” However, it would seem that the purpose of Whedon’s rendition of the play was not to prove Shakespeare’s universality across time, but rather to act as a service vessel for his implication of the absurdity of this current “He loves me/ he loves me not” generation. Young adults of today seem to struggle more than ever with the idea of love and monogamy. With the blossoming of “hook-up culture” came the withering of romantic relationship, a dying-out of people expressing their true emotions and feelings with one another. The film explores these issues of modern romantic conundrums with characters in which love is the biggest life issue they have to worry about, and while Jonson might believe that by adapting Much Ado About Nothing, Whedon is making some sort of grand statement that this problem existed way before our time and that Shakespearean romances universally represent all romances in some way, it’s much more plausible that he is using the play as a comedic microscope to allow us to see the ridiculousness of our behavior through the well-known ridiculousness of these characters. It is Shakespeare set in a modern day rom-com.
Robert Kimbrough, author of Androgyny Seen through Shakespeare’s Disguise offers a completely different critique on the sexuality in Twelfth Night. Kimbrough interprets the staging for an Elizabethan audience by explaining how boys would have played the female roles, and sexuality would not have been an issue (Kimbrough). This type of thinking is practically impossible for modern audiences. Modern audiences are accustomed to hints geared towards others sexuality. Today’s audience would pick up the fact that Viola is disguised as Cesario, a man; whereas, the Elizabethan audience would have been more oblivious to this.
Unlike the other modernist novels, Maurice does not experiment much with language, form or style. However, its modernist ethos lies in its transgressiveness – dealing with homosexual themes in the way Oscar Wilde anticipated modernism in the previous century. Michel Foucault in his essay “A Preface to Transgression” writes: “the whole of modern thought is imbued with the necessity of thinking the unthought…for modern thought, no morality is possible” (qtd. in Tambling 4). It is hereby interesting to look at Forster, a homosexual author, and his novel Maurice which raises and/o... ... middle of paper ... ... Cambride UP.
an’s Sexual Theme Throughout subsequent editions of Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman introduces and revises his controversial theme of sexuality. Whitman wanted to celebrate sexuality and did so with homosexual overtones. Any work will be considered controversial if it contains sexuality, but up until the mid-18th century homosexuality was yet to be coined a sexual identity. Throughout Whitman’s eight editions of Leaves of Grass (1855-1891-92), controversy arouse, stating his poetry contained trashy and obscene sexual language. Whitman argued the public was placing too much emphasis on the sexual content and not fully embracing his work as a whole.
It is thus plausible to see that Luhrman portrays Romeo and Juliet as an allegory for the late 20th century, whereby Verona Beach is a caricature of the violent atmosphere of our time as well as serving as a representation of love and conflict. The major difference however between Shakespeare and Luhrman’s portrayal is that 100 years ago, violence and hedonism was a fashion phase, whereas today it is a part of our society. Due to the lack of technology in society in the 19th century, the art of plays, and the conventions of the Elizabethan theatre had more focus on the words with minimal costuming and cinematic techniques. Yet among other things, the art of theatre is or was a reflection on society, and Luhrman criticizes the present time by setting Shakespeare’s tale in another time, with the same tragedy of death. Thus both Shakespeare and Luhrman portray conflict and the representations of love in two different levels – two different levels that shape and reflects the values of both the Elizabethan and contemporary society.