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Gender Stereotypes In The Twelfth Night

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Gender stereotypes have long dominated the controlling arenas of society. These very institutions were consequential in facilitating the modernization of the world. Only later, after the renaissance had catalyzed newer forms of thought, were women allowed the same institutional privileges as their male counterparts. Shakespeare is famous for including Kairos—or the reflection of the present period in literary works—and commonly wrote in the traditional patriarchal perspective of society. In the Twelfth Night, he masterfully challenges the stereotypical gender roles of his age, through the depiction of Viola’s perplexing masculine and feminine qualities. The view of gender in society can be directly influenced by actions an individual chooses…show more content…
Its focus is on gender, class, and same sex attraction which makes it relevant to our current cultural environment. Like Elizabeth I, the play demonstrates that gender is something you can influence by how you act, rather than one’s gender which is determined by predisposed sexual organs. In the play, Viola embodies this confusion when she assumes the identity of a boy, Cesario. However, it would be remiss not to mention women’s inability to act in female role’s. In acts that involved female characters, young boys would assume the role in costume; so, in this case a boy actor plays a woman character (Viola) who pretends to be a boy (Cesario). The uncertainty of Viola/Cesario's sex and the bold attitude of Olivia would show that maleness and femaleness were just aspects of a role, qualities that are learned, not unchangeable physical traits. Viola and Olivia seem weak but the characters, in reality, are very untraditional. Recall, Olivia’s boldness as she plays the male role and proposes marriage to Sebastian, “Blame not this haste of mine. If you mean well, Now go with me and with this holy man Into the chantry by. There, before him And underneath that consecrated roof, Plight me the full assurance of your faith” (Wilson
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