When Shakespeare wrote his plays, theatre companies were only using male actors; female parts were played by adolescent boys. Although boy actors were seen as the trainees and they would eventually play male roles when they were experienced and old enough, some of the most interesting and challenging roles in Shakespeare plays are women. Why would he write big female roles when there weren’t female actors? People believe that he wrote specific parts for specific actors; some boy actors might had become so good at playing women that they inspired Shakespeare to write those significant female parts.
The date of the composition of Twelfth Night is fixed around 1600 “during a period before a woman’s place was imagined as separate sphere, since, for the Renaissance, a woman was considered to be analogous to other social inferiors in a hierarchical society” (Malcolmson 161). During this time, England was enjoying a period of socio-political security and respect for the arts. Unfortunately, Elizabethan society was a masculine society in which women had little part. The female in Elizabethan society was not only subordinate to the male because of her unpredictability but also because of her nature as the "gentler sex." A woman was considered to be fit for homemaking and child-bearing; she was considered to have no
It is said that Queen Elizabeth I’s controversial reign at the time informed the play’s content. She, in fact, used to like to invite theater companies to her palaces and saw a performance of the play at Christmastime while on a campaign in Ireland. In her medieval England, people met the idea of a female monarch with hostility, because there had never been one until . The challenge to tradition that was Queen Elizabeth I’s reign most likely to lead the discussion of gender roles in Twelfth Night.
Shakespeare's use of cross dressing and deceitfulness extends beyond the actual writings in the plays and goes onto the stage. Women were not allowed to perform on stage in Shakespeare's time. ."..all the great women's roles in Elizabethan and Jacobean plays, from Juliet and Lady Macbeth to the duchess of Malfi, were written to be
Others have asserted that the roles of women in his plays were prominent for the time and culture that he lived in,his intent in creating characters to inspire much controversy. Two works, Taming of the Shrew, and Twelfth Night, stand out particularly well in regards to Shakespeare's use of female characters. If you could examine these two plays, you would see that Shakespeare, though conforming to contemporary attitudes of women, circumvented them by creating resolute female characters with a strong sense of self.
In the time period of the play, women were not viewed as people, much less as equal to men. Men were held with respect and their opinions were valued. However, women were considered half a person, and they were not allowed to have an opinion. If they spoke or acted out of
It was not uncommon for Shakespeare to think outside the gender norm of the time period, giving lives to characters, especially female characters, that would have been unfathomable to anyone else. He seems to pay special attention to the differences he contributes. The female characters within the plays arguably represent a more modern, stronger woman that what would have been socially acceptable in England at this time. Women within this era were property and an okay other to the male Christians in England's borders. While still possessing the power to destroy family honor and reputations. Which essentially seems to be why they needed to be controlled, or why men thought they needed to be controlled. They possess the power to destroy livelihoods.
In my opinion, I think the decision regarding to the roles of women in theatres was not wise. Women did not have freedom, unlike the men. They were considered as the weaker sex and is in need of protection. In the Elizabethan era, women did not have any sayings in their life. They spend their daily lives at home being housewives or being tutored. Women did not get to enjoy their lives the way they would want to. All their lives, they have to listen to their husbands as obedience was a part of the law. Women who acted in theatres were called prostitutes. I strongly believe that it not right for the actresses to be labelled as something that their not. Women not being able to have professions and not having to live their lives freely could lead
Shakespeare and the members of the Elizabethan era would be appalled at the freedoms women experience today. The docility of Elizabethan women is almost a forgotten way of life. What we see throughout Shakespeare’s plays is an insight into the female character as perceived by Elizabethan culture. Shakespeare’s female characters reflect the Elizabethan era’s image of women; they were to be virtuous and obedient and those that were not were portrayed as undesirable and even evil.
In fact, when Shakespeare wrote his plays, they were intended to be played by all-male companies, which, on a certain level, makes it reasonable for casting choices to go back to that root. Hurren also lined out “boys playing girls (especially boys playing girls who are pretending to be boys) adds an extra dimension of eroticism to the proceeding; and further, that this effect is just what Shakespeare, whose own sexual propensities are commonly assumed to have been somewhat ambiguous, was aiming at” — a theory brought up by one of Jan Kott’s essays, “Shakespeare’s Bitter Arcadia.” The relationship between actors’ gender representation, which had somehow shifted, and the audience, who had also changed and learned to appreciate different/new culture in and outside of the theatre, is fascinating. Every time a major alteration was made, theatre makers were targeting different subjects or it was influenced by contemporaneous social changes: both when women were first represented on stage by female actors and when all-male cast stands for queers in theatre opposing to a stage dominated by male actors only for social normality. Nonetheless, each time a revolutionary casting choice manufactured, whether it was the director’s choice to tweak audience’s sexuality or not, it takes time for theatre-goers to recognize the message. In this case, Royal National Theatre’s production of As You Like It (1967) proffered the four female roles played not by boys, but by “men whose ages ranged from 27 to 37.”(KH) Seeing male actors having fun in wigs and mini skirts, audience crowded the theatre for, what was believed to be, a kinky and erotic experience. Notwithstanding the great response, Clifford Williams, the director of the production, confessed that that he was aiming for a completely opposite
The actors were expected to perform their own stunts. They had to have a good memory to learn and memorize their lines in a short time period. William Shakespeare acted in some of the productions of the plays. Males had to act out the female parts of the plays because females were not allowed to perform in theaters at this time. Although, all of the actors worked hard, the males who dressed up as females got paid the least; this proves they had a lot of dedication to their work. The actors help make the plays at the theater a huge success and very profitable to The Theater.
Shakespeare’s words were created to be seen. Shakespeare created his plays in orders for actors to act out and that is why watching it performed is the best way to understand it. In Dr. Calandra’s Guide to “What To Look For In Shakespeare”, he discusses how the plays were originally written without female actors being used. This is an important fact to consider because with male playing female parts some of the lines that Shakespeare created seem to have double meaning. This can be related to Twelfth Night. In the Twelfth Night, Viola was a man dressed like a woman portraying a man. In the rehearsal, Viola discusses her love for an older women and the director really wanted to highlight the words she was saying because she wasn’t
The cause of the underlying despondency is the way in which Illyrian society works in reverse to social norms. This reversal is linked closely with the festivities of Twelfth Night. The central idea of Twelfth Night was derived from the old notion behind Saturnalia: a brief social revolution or period of "misrule" in which power, dignity, or impunity is reversed upon those ordinarily in a subordinate position so that masters become servants and servants become masters. A mock figure known as the "Carnival King" or "Boy-Bishop" was elected to head the festivities; a figure echoed in Twelfth Night both by Sir Toby Belch, who becomes a kind of "carnival king" upholding the feasting, revelry and license of the festival period, and by Feste who impersonates a clergyman in his attempts to "re-educate" Malvolio into his "right" mind. When challenged about his drinking by Maria; “Ay but you must confine yourself within the limits of order,” Sir Toby retorts, “Confine! I 'll confine myself no finer than I am." In the true style of Saturnalia, Sir Toby overturns all norms.
Main Idea: Shakespeare was not a sexist: All though the main three females in the play were seen as important and contributed tremendously towards the plot of the play. The readers see Shakespeare pushing the ideology of men and women being equal with the slow occurrence of many plots towards the play, and how it all unravels itself. These were proven in the play by when;
Malvolio’s lack of self-criticism or self-awareness makes him vulnerable to Maria's plan to ridicule him.