Gender and Social Norms in Shakespeare's As You Like It Essay

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Gender and Social Norms in As You Like It Shakespeare based his comedy As You Like It primarily on three other works. Its plot follows the basic structure of Rosalynde, published in 1590 by Thomas Lodge. The Tale of Gamelyn, written by an unknown author in the mid-fourteenth century, is a violent Middle English narrative that was found among Chaucer's papers and provides further details for Shakespeare's work. With the Forest of Ardenne serving as an escape for our main characters, Shakespeare takes his details from the countless Robin Hood ballads popular in Medieval England. This paper will examine how Shakespeare's adaptations and alterations of emphasis and plot from these source works have turned our attention to the…show more content…
In the final paragraph, Lodge reinforces his focus on men: "Here Gentlemen may you see in EUPHUES GOLDEN LEGACIE, that such as neglect their fathers precepts, incurre much preiudice; that diuision in Nature as it is a blemish in nurture...concorde sweetest conclusion, and amitie betwixt brothers more forceable than fortune." This moral, pointed out to us in the last paragraph of Renaissance writing, says nothing about the matters of interaction between men and women, only the interaction between brothers. The women in the plot are deemphasized. In As You Like It, Shakespeare breaks all convention and a female character delivers the epilog and speaks directly to the women calling them to action. The playwright goes so far as to have Rosalind address the women audience members first. Shakespeare clearly alters his plot to place primary emphasis on the women's roles in his play, how they effect change and how they move and affect a world dominated by men. Lodge's Rosalynde lives in a world where human behavior is repeatedly explained by reference to long lists of "infallible precepts" that are said to determine our reactions, not as a reaction to what other people have done or how they feel about each other (Stout 279). Shakespeare views love as grounded in mutual behavior, and the interaction between people helps make possible what will happen in the future. In Lodge, a common explanation for a character's actions is some sort
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