In Shakespeare's plays Twelfth Night and As You Like It both of the lead female characters dress as men. Both plays are comedies and the change in gender is used as a joke, but I think it goes much deeper. A woman can become a man, but only if it is not permanent. The affect of the change cannot be too great because she must change back to female once everything is settled. They are strong female characters, but must become men to protect themselves and ultimately solve the problem of the play. In the book Desire and Anxiety: The Circulation of Sexuality in Shakespearian Drama Valerie Traub calls the characters, "the crossed-dressed heroine who elicits and enjoys multiple erotic investments" (Traub 17). They can only acts this way when they are dressed as men. They return to their passive and nonsexual ways when they change back to women's clothing. In both plays the women are not in their own lands, Viola being shipwrecked on a strange land and Rosalind being banished from the court and wandering in the forest. Both women disguise themselves as men for protection. On the way to the forest Celia says to Rosalind, “Now go we in content/ To liberty and not to banishment” (1.3.137-138). Liberty in this line is the freedom they get overcoming the restrictions of a female role (Erikson 22). Dressing as a man is the way the women protect themselves, but as the plays progress the roles they play as men begin to influencing their actions and attitudes.
The definition of a man by what he wears is so strong that in Twelfth Night Orsino still refers to Viola as her male name Cersario even after he learns she is a woman and decides to marry her. "Cersario, come/ F...
... middle of paper ...
...e roles are right. Men are manly taking care of their women by marrying them and women are in their correct roles under their husbands.
Erickson, Peter. Patriarchal Structures in Shakespeare’s Drama. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1985.
Greenblatt, Stephen general ed. Walter Cohen, Jean E. Howard, and Katharine Eiasman Maus eds. The Norton Shakespeare. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1997.
Orgel, Stephen. Impersonations: The Performance of Gender In Shakespeare’s England. Cambridge: University Press, 1996.
Traub, Valerie. Desire and Anxiety: Circulation of Sexuality in Shakespearean Drama. London: Routledge, 1992.
More of the definition of a female’s role in Shakespearean England can be found at http://drama.pepperdine.edu/shakespeare/romeoandjuliette in the essay Female Sovereignty in Renaissance England.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Cross-Dressing in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and As You Like It In Shakespeare's plays Twelfth Night and As You Like It both of the lead female characters dress as men. Both plays are comedies and the change in gender is used as a joke, but I think it goes much deeper. A woman can become a man, but only if it is not permanent. The affect of the change cannot be too great because she must change back to female once everything is settled. They are strong female characters, but must become men to protect themselves and ultimately solve the problem of the play.... [tags: Comparison Compare Contrast Essays]
1737 words (5 pages)
- The Necessity of Cross-dressing Twelfth Night The action of Twelfth Night begins shortly after a damaging tempest shipwrecks the heroine, casting her upon foreign shores. Upon arrival in this strange seaport, Viola--like the Princess Leonide--dons male disguise which facilitates both employment and time enough to orient herself in this unfamiliar territory. Viola's transvestism functions as emblematic of the antic nature of Illyrian society. As contemporary feminist and Shakespearean scholars are quick to point out, cross-dressing foregrounds not only the concept of role playing and thus the constructed or performative nature of gender but also the machinations of power.... [tags: Twelfth Night essays]
812 words (2.3 pages)
- Theme of Disguise in Twelfth Night The notion of disguise is very important theme within Twelfth Night. From my point of view I feel that the crux of the play is primarily based on this concept. Indeed "there's something in it that is deceivable" summarizes this point precisely. Disguise runs like a thread through the play from start to end and holds it all together just as tightly as thread would fabric. Yet, paradoxically as the plot progresses there are many problems, deceptions and illusions, which provide a comment on human behavior and creating the needed escape of comedy.... [tags: Twelfth Night essays]
1145 words (3.3 pages)
- Shakespearean subtext has been of interest for centuries, to professional scholars and English students and Shakespeare fanatics alike. To most, the subtext is just as important as the writing itself, and this is understandable. Two plays in particular—As You Like It and Twelfth Night—rely significantly on subtext. The audience’s interpretation is based entirely on what is shown to them, including the subtext, and this is on both the playwright’s and the actors’ parts: how it is written, and how it is played.... [tags: phoebe, sebastia, viola]
1126 words (3.2 pages)
- Examining Viola's Character in Twelfth Night "I may not be a lion, but I am a lion's cub, and I have a lion's heart" . These words are said by one of the most celebrated and authoritative women in the 16th century Elizabeth I. Even though the authority was at woman's hands at that time, a dominant woman was unnatural in the society itself. The presence of such a powerful female figure creates an interesting situation for dramatists and playwrights in terms of depicting women's status at that time.... [tags: Character Analysis, Authority]
836 words (2.4 pages)
- William Shakespeare wrote a satirical comedy, Twelfth Night in the 16th century. The date is not for certain but it was right around the same time he wrote Hamlet. Twelfth Night is widely famous today for being a Transvestite comedy meaning characters are cross dressing. William Shakespeare’s, Twelfth Night, plunges into a state of widespread misperception and disorderly behavior, the power of love rescues the unruly characters from the chaos and restores order to their lives and to their kingdom.... [tags: 16th century satirical comedies]
635 words (1.8 pages)
- In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the young Viola, having once lost her brother in a shipwreck, realizes that dressing up as a boy herself is the best way to continue living and thriving and looking for him. This play shows how much respect Shakespeare had for women more than ever, as Viola can do anything that a man can do. In addition to that, the serving-woman Maria proves herself perfectly capable of tricking Malvolio, enough so to make everyone in town to think he has gone completely mad. Both of these women are headstrong and sure of themselves and just itching to prove to the men in the play that none of them can think of themselves as better than the women.... [tags: Viola, LGBT, women]
1203 words (3.4 pages)
- Aging In the Reanissance and As You Like It Life starts upon the exit from the mother's womb. From that moment, time marches on until the inevitable death occurs to take one once again from the world of the living. Life and death fascinated various playwrights and authors of the Renaissance. Shakespeare made his interest in aging known in many of his plays and sonnets. He approaches this continuing theme from many angles. In many of his sonnets he talks about aging and how the image changes as one ages and gets older and less attractive.... [tags: Shakespeare As You Like It Essays]
1796 words (5.1 pages)
- Blindness of Love in Twelfth Night by Shakespeare In the play "Twelfth Night" Shakespeare shows how anyone can be blinded by love and act so impulsively to satisfy their appetite for love, that often they fall in love with a façade rather then the person behind the disguise. Also Shakespeare also shows how people are apt to ignore the evidence that disproves the disguise they have fallen in love with. Almost all of the characters in "Twelfth Night" fell in love with a disguise; I will detail the confusing relationships and disguises used in the play to show the blindness of love.... [tags: Papers]
632 words (1.8 pages)
- The Outcome of Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare The ‘Twelfth Night’ written by William Shakespeare in the Elizabethan era, is a dramatic comedy enriched with a great deal of hurt to accompany scandalous behaviour and shocking deceptions. The comical elements of this play are those which contribute to Elizabethan humour. The principal characters are of a high social status, making any disruption to their life humorous. The main characters are part of the whirlwind of unrequited love and mistaken identity, which when together are hazardous.... [tags: Papers]
2721 words (7.8 pages)