Essay on Twelfth Night: A Gender-Bending Journey

Essay on Twelfth Night: A Gender-Bending Journey

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Twelfth Night: A Gender-Bending Journey

 
   Shakespeare enjoyed writing passionate plays about young lovers, but, after a while, the formula became exhausted and the Bard was forced to dig deeper, creatively speaking. Twelfth Night is an example of a Shakespearean love tale with a slight twist to keep things interesting. This play was the “Tootsie” of its time. Twelfth Night takes the audience on a gender-bending journey, while maintaining all the elements of true love throughout. At one point, Olivia wears a disguise in order to take on the traditionally male role of wooing her romantic interest, Cesario, who is also disguised. Although Olivia flirts with Cesario and tells him that his “scorn” only reveals his hidden love, she is mistaken. Her misinterpretation of Cesario’s manner is one of many problems contained within the drama. Cesario’s true gender, Olivia’s active pursuit of him/her, and the ambiguity of words with double meanings in this passage threaten to turn wholesome, romantic conquest on its head, or as Olivia says “turn night to noon” (139).

 

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Erasmus, Desiderius. In Praise of Folly. Trans. Hoyt Hopewell Hudson, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1970.

Hotson, Leslie. Shakespeare's Motley. New York: Oxford University Press, 1952.

Potter, Lois. Twelfth Night: Text & Performance. London: Macmillan, 1985.

Shakespeare, William. The Norton Shakespeare. Edited Stephen Greenblatt et al. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1997.

Zijderveld, Anton J. Reality in a Looking-Glass: Rationality through an Analysis of Traditional Folly. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982.

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