The Role Of Cross Dressing In Shakespeare's As You Like It

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Among many female characters in Shakespeare's comedies, the protagonist in As You Like It evokes various interpretati0ons by feminist critics. Critics have given various contradictory interpretations about the female protagonist's act of cross-dressing. This act, as claimed by some feminist critics, may constitute a subversive act against the hegemonic order since it challenges common conception regarding female's role in Elizabethan period. Another critical approach, however, does not consider such act to be subversive but rather another dramatic technique reaffirming social and sexual hierarchy prevalent within patriarchal order. Based on the findings of this research, the act of cross dressing to a certain degree is subversive one, assisting…show more content…
In these dramatic situations, Rosalind's role, from a secondary character changes into central one. One of the advantages Rosalind gains from the act of changing identity is the sense of liberty she enjoys in the Forest of Arden. The new male identity provides her with an opportunity to establish a very close connection with Orland. By assuming Rosalind being a male character, Orlando easily fall into the harmless trap set by Rosalind, mistaking her being a brilliant magician specialized in curing love-stricken people. Mistaken by her false character, Orlando begins confessing his troubling love situation to Rosalind. Moreover, by assuming male identity, Rosalind is able to influence other characters to change their personalities. She could easily change the attitudes of Phoebe towards Silvius. Taken within the contexts of Elizabethan and Jacobean plays, Rosalind's act of cross dressing is subversive in certain way because " by exposing the fictiveness of gender difference, throws into question the hierarchization of men over women." Moreover, the easiness through which Rosalind changes her identity from female into male throws into question the fixability of gender roles as it implies constructiveness of these social roles. The act by itself is " empowering because it highlightened the performativity of gender roles" .…show more content…
The dramatic turn of events in the final act does not seem to support the protagonist's quest for total liberty from patriarchal constraints. The new established structure requires all subjects, especially recently empowered females, to give up most of their aspiration for liberty and pay allegiance to newly established
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