Homosexuality And The Signs Of Male Friendship In Elizabethan England

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While acts of sodomy between men were illegal, men were kept together throughout their childhood and adolescents, until marriage where men married women, but continued to work with men. Sir William Segar, in Honor, Military, and Civill (1602), outlined two areas that men enter: honor and business. Honor being schooling up to the college and law levels. Following the path of honor, a boy goes to an all-male school followed by an all-male college. The boy then will studies law at an all-male inn-of-court in London. Shakespeare likely followed the business path by attending an all-male school and then working in an all-male apprenticeship with a merchant or crafts man. Though homosexual acts were banned, these obligatory single-sex communities emphasized close bonding between males leading to possible homoerotic feelings with or without physically having sexual relations. The image of the Masculine Friend, which was a prosperous candidate for these swelling power relationships, is a well-known bond perceived during the Elizabethan era. In Homosexuality and the Signs of Male Friendship in Elizabethan England, Bray comments on the idea of the ‘Masculine Friend’ versus the homosexual or sodomite. “The image of the masculine friend was an image of intimacy between men in stark contrast to the forbidden intimacy of homosexuality” (Bray, 42). The Masculine friend, in its definition, is an utterly confusing one. These ‘friends’ are referred to throughout Elizabethan history and

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