Gender Roles Of Women In William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

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Twelfth Night, or What You Will is a play written by world famous poet William Shakespeare. The romantic comedy, is believed to have been written in the early 1600s to represent the celebration called “Twelfth Night”, which is a celebration during the passing Christmas time and has, since the play, also been coined “Opposite Day”. In Twelfth Night, Shakespeare illustrates a balance of the genders by using Viola, and different characters, to prove that women and men are equally capable of a deep, honest Love, contrary to popular belief. Twelfth Night is a story that follows a woman named Viola who, shipwrecked, washes ashore and decides to disguise herself as a man named Cesario. Cesario becomes a servant to Orsino, the Duke of Illyria. Viola, …show more content…
Viola proves that women aren’t always defined by the gender role, but can branch out and even convince others that they are men. Viola displays manly attributes like loyalty and being a good servant. Her loyalty is revealed when she attempts to help Orsino get Olivia back while she is in Love with him, herself. In the Elizabethan era, women faced many challenges. Women were expected to be nothing more than child bearers and housewives. Women were treated as if they were inferior to men and were to be obedient to them all the time. Women did not receive educations and were kept out of politics thus leading to more disadvantages for women. Shakespeare used Viola to show his beliefs that gender roles are simply obstacles that hide people’s true qualities, skills, and …show more content…
An analysis of the characters provides a true in depth look at the point Shakespeare was putting across. Every character possesses different strengths and weaknesses. The men are not completely defined by masculine characteristics and also possess some feminine characteristics. The women prove that females are not inferior to males, but rather very similar and on the same playing field. Apart from physical attributes that define men and women, Shakespeare looks to destroy the barrier between the two that is gender roles. Simply being born male or female is not what defined these. Orsino breaks the traditional gender role by appearing overcome by a strong Love. Viola was the obvious exception since she physically appeared as a man. Olivia defies the tradition feminine role by being independent and owning her own estate with her own servants. She is not simply won over by status as she continually rejects Orsino. Antonio was not only an exception to the gender roles, but sexuality in general based on his Love for Sebastian. Homosexuality was heavily frowned upon in this era and even punishable by death. Physical features are the only things that separate the men from women and even Viola found a grey area in that. Shakespeare used women in this story as more than child bearers and gave them a role in society. Shakespeare removed the limitations that society put on women and portrayed them with the importance they

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