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Gender Stereotypes In Twelfth Night By William Shakespeare

Decent Essays
All throughout Illyria, there is romance, passion, royalty, and an immense amount of gender stereotypes. William Shakespeare imagines the kingdom of Illyria to have very traditional norms for both women and men in his play Twelfth Night. In Scene 2 of Act 1, Viola, recently rescued from a shipwreck, hears about a duke named Orsino and instantly comes up with a plan to get closer to him. Her plan is to disguise herself as a boy who she will name Cesario and become one of Orsino's’ attendants. Right off the bat, we begin to see gender stereotypes. Why must Viola become a man in order to work for the duke? Elizabethan society “molded women into the form of the dutiful wife and mother” (Elizabethan Women). Viola could not have served duke Orsino as a woman because as a woman she was expected to work at home and be either a “dutiful wife [or a] mother”. Scene two prepares the audience for the idea of gender throughout the rest of the play. Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is very traditional play due to its ideas of gender stereotypes in Elizabethan society.
Orsino provides an example of the male norms in Twelfth Night, by always showcasing his power and control. In act 2, Orsino and Viola begin to talk about love. Orsino says to Viola, “No woman’s heart /So big, to hold so much; they lack retention. /Alas, their love may be called appetite, /No motion of the liver, but the palate, [...] /But mine is all as hungry as the sea, /And can digest as much” (2.4. 105-111). Orsino is telling
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