In The Play Twelfth Night, Or What You Will By William

1861 WordsMar 5, 20178 Pages
In the play Twelfth Night, or What You Will by William Shakespeare, the playwright presents the very real issues of gender roles in his time by using a light-hearted comedy full of love triangles and mischief. Gendered roles are a driving force in Twelfth Night that change all aspects of the characters’ lives. The roles that each gender is set to play function to define society: women do this and men do that. These stereotypes become so ingrained into culture that they become hard to get rid of and are often damaging and overall negative. These specific roles based upon gender define who “loves” who and factors into how the individual is viewed in their everyday life. Twelfth Night gives the reader a powerful insight into gendered culture…show more content…
Viola implies with this line that she is not ready to reveal her virtue, possibly because she is an unchaperoned lady in a foreign land. She seems to think that Lady Oliva might have her and help her conceal her social status until she too is ready to face men again. However, the Captain finishes her sentence, “That were hard to compass, / Because she will admit no kind of suit,” (1.2.44—45). Viola quickly changes her mind, deciding at this moment to ask the Captain to “conceal [her]” for “what [she is]” so that she may serve under Orsino (1.2.52). She wishes for the Captain to present her as a eunuch, possibly to explain her feminine features and high pitched voice, so that she can prove herself “very worth his service” (1.2.58). Here, Viola may still be thinking of ways to conceal her virtue, since as a man no one would guess her true social status. Another thing to note from Viola’s choice to ultimately disguise herself as a man, are the gender role undertones of the whole passage. Viola first looks to receiving help from Oliva so that she may protect her virtue and when that fails, her next immediate thought is that she must not only disguise herself to serve under Orsino but she must do so as a male
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