Twelfth Night By William Shakespeare

1666 Words7 Pages
In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the main story told is of the battle between silliness (Feste, Maria, romance, pranks, and drama) and seriousness (Malvolio, dourness, rules, and stresses of life). One facet of this is gender – the main protagonist Viola presents as male for most of the play. Shakespeare, whether intentionally or not, has shown prime examples of projected identity based on sex, gender roles, and the power associated with each sex. These messages were revolutionary at the time, and only in recent decades are people really beginning to examine them, but Shakespeare has been known to slip messages into his works that were far ahead of his time. Shakespeare uses Viola’s identity as a character in relation to gender roles and gender itself, and Olivia’s relationship with her. Shakespeare has clearly separated almost all elements of the book into two categories; silliness and seriousness. Viola’s gender and presentation would fit into silliness – at face value, the changes began because of a ridiculously dramatic act of love, and Shakespeare uses many lines of dialogue such as the frivolously dangerous wordplay Viola uses (as described by the Duke in the end, “Boy, thou hast said to me a thousand times / Thou never shouldst love woman like to me.”), which might blow her cover, to inject more unrealism into the entire situation. However, looking deeper at the subject, Viola’s gender presentation is one of the most ambiguously casted elements of the play. She is only
Open Document