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Lecture 15

ENGL 200 Lecture 15 - Twelfth Night Part III.docx

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Department
English (Arts)
Course
ENGL 200
Professor
Wes Folkerth
Semester
Fall

Description
Shakespeare, Twelfth Night: Part III Gender Identity and Same-sex Desire in the Play Pervasive notion in the work Many scholars have paid attention to the playful and teasing references and representations of same sex desire Malvolio, described as puritan, gestures towards and reminds us of contemporary puritan attacks on theater, where they complained about immoral young boys portraying love objects of same sex romantics and sexual desire. What they objected to was the potential for people to be tricked into boys being portrayed as objects as desire (audience might get the wrong idea and they might fall in love with them because they play such beautiful characters) They were also against the fact that young boys had to follow the troupe around, and there might be corruption there as well In terms of the audiences relationship is the inculcation of a certain type of visuality which they saw as corrupting. In the world of the play, we get many elements of being aware or unaware of same sex desire We get Olivia who falls in love with Cesario, who is actually in love with a woman, Viola We also have Orsino, who is in love with Olivia, but has an interesting relationship to a man, who he eventually marries, but he is actually a man It is interesting that Violas proof that she is a man is that she has womans clothes Shakespeare is trying to say that she is trying to play a role, just like the role she is playing now in a mans clothes, and she is suggesting that she is actually a woman based on her clothes that she has We never see her go back into those clothes so Orsino refers to her as him, at least until she gets back into her womans clothes Olivia and Orsino has this mixed thing going on Also, Sebastien and Antonio have another relationship going on (Antonio also referenced in another work, and he also has the same kind of relationship) It seems like we always have had homosexual relationships All of these relationships have the promise of returning to hetero-normality This return to the natural state is summed up by a sentence that Sebastians speaks in the last scene play: As the threads of confusion become untangles and people realize who they are, this happens: Page 1135 Act V Scene I Lines 258-262 SEBASTIAN [To OLIVIA] So comes it, lady, you have been mistook: But nature to her bias drew in that. You would have been contracted to a maid; Nor are you therein, by my life, deceived, You are betroth'd both to a maid and man. Basically, he is saying that all is fine because she is being married to them, the same kind of people, and that all is good because he is a man (hetero-normality) The metaphor used by Sebastian here is the same as the one used in bowling o In bowling, a bias happens when a bowling ball is rolled by spin, so that it does not take a straight path, but ends up in the same path as the straight line Although nature has caused them to deviate from a straight line, nature has allowed them to come back to their normal roles in society (hetero-normality) What they are trying to say is that to arrive, it is to explore and deviate from your normal path, but to return to the normal path in the end (early modern idea) This is an important idea in the twelfth night, and is also important in the Faerie Queene, where the Redcrosse night swerves from the right path, and he has to do it before he can achieve holiness Olivia, Orsino and Malvolio have this tendencies to idealize the object of their affection, and in doing so they make necessary errors, which must be corrected, and they have difficulties in seeing them Malvolio is a special case here; his relationship with Olivia is not a same-sex attachment case as the others o It is a similarly an illicit form of love from a class standpoint o Something that even he acknowledges because a servant should not marry his mistress Page 1104 Act II Scene v Lines 36-37 MALVOLIO There is example fort; the lady of the Strachy married the yeoman of the wardrobe. There is precedent for this love He is trying to convince himself that it is not as an improper a relationship that people thinks it might be Page 1104 Lines 41-52 Act II Scene V MALVOLIO Having been three months married to her, sitting in my state,-- SIR TOBY BELCH O, for a stone-bow, to hit him in the eye! MALVOLIO Calling my officers about me, in my branched velvet gown; having come from a day-bed, where I have left Olivia sleeping,-- SIR TOBY BELCH Fire and brimstone! FABIAN O, peace, peace! MALVOLIO And then to have the humor of state; and after a demure travel of regard, telling them I know my place as I would they should do theirs, to for my kinsman Toby,-- Telling them that they should know their place, but he does not actually knows his place, and has an improper desire of her Ironically, Sir Toby does not know his place either, because even though he is a relative of Olivia, he makes all of this ruckus and trouble while living there, and so he does not know his place either The joke here is that all the other people speak loud enough so that you would think that Malvolio hears them, but he doesnt! This love that he has with Olivia is just as objectionable from a standpoint of social normativity, as they others that we are treating here He is recognizable as those leaders and heads of mega-churches who preach about the evils of homosexuality, but practice it themselves, a kind of self loathing that is going on that they project to other people The characters bring an experience of a kind of sense of alienation, from Viola to Sebastian, Feste, Antonio, who see people better as who they are Viola and her brother are strangers to Illyria, but Viola has go even further and estrangers herself from her own identity AND GIVES HER A better perspective of her own identity She shares soliloquies and it gives us a better view of what is going on, and how she wishes things would just straighten themselves out, and she has the belief that nature is going to make things better in the end Adopting this alternative identity allows her to see people in a different way, this wonderful conversation that she has with Orsino about Mens love versus Womens love, that they discuss many attitudes that are prevalent in modern society We have seen this in the Wife of Bath: o Who is more fickle? o Who is the more guided by passion? o These questions are quite old, but they are quite compelling because they speak into the way in which we experience love, and so this is how Shakespeare explores these ideas Interview between Feste and Viola:
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