Subversion And Perversion In Two Gentlemen Of Verona and The Jew Of Malta

Subversion And Perversion In Two Gentlemen Of Verona and The Jew Of Malta

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Subversion and perversion are both prominently conveyed in both Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Jew of Malta through numerous mediums. Subversion entails the opposition to societal standards and authority whereas perversion occurs when morality and religious views are contradicted. The use of religiously symbolic objects, mockery, sexual innuendo, hypocrisy and irony are the focal matters used to express perversion and subversion in this essay. Often when a reader or the audience is shocked by themes and incidents occurring in plays, it is due to a feeling evoked when one is confronted with overt opposition to religion, morality, politics and society.
Two Gentlemen of Verona make use of the mockery of upper-class pretentiousness, crude and inappropriate sexual innuendo to subvert and perverse the topic of marriage. Launce continually speaks disrespectfully of his master, subverting the social class order of classical Europe by which servants must speak of their superiors with deference and hold them in highest regard. This subverts the social hierarchy by the utilisation of mockery that belittles his master’s class. My interpretations lead me to believe that the staff in this scene, may well be in fact a metaphorical staff. That is, the staff is code for Launce’s phallus. This is a subversion in that it is socially unacceptable to speak in such a manner, therefore it contradicts societies’ etiquette, and it also is a perversion because it is morally incorrect and sacrilege to use a typically religiously significant tool as a phallic symbol. When Launce declares: “My staff understands me”, he compares his masculinity in sexual terms to intelligence. He tells Speed that his sexual drive and desire understands what he is saying, ev...


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...The crucial element drawing these plays together is the mutual use of a symbolically significant object. That is, the staff. The staff is disgraced in the manner in which role it had been given in the plays. Although it is ambiguous, the staff appears to be a metaphorical phallic symbol in the Two Gentlemen of Verona used to convey to crudity of Launce’s views on marriage. Conversely, in The Jew of Malta, it is used in a most blasphemous sense – for the purpose of mocking the Christian faith. The faith is ridiculed when the staff is used satirically to ‘support’ the dead Friar and when Jacomo uses it with the intention to murder. This is explicitly ironic. Thus this essay has shown how irony, hypocrisy, mockery and sexual innuendo all serve the same purpose in these plays – to challenge the society by the subverting and perverting moral, religious and political codes.

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