William Shakespeare | Critical Essay by Jean E. Howard

This literature criticism consists of approximately 11 pages of analysis & critique of William Shakespeare.
This section contains 3,284 words
(approx. 11 pages at 300 words per page)
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SOURCE: "Crossdressing, the Theatre, and Gender Struggle in Early Modern England," in Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 4, Winter, 1988, pp. 418-40.

In the following excerpt, Howard contends that cross-dressing, while destabilizing the "notion of fixed sexual difference" in Shakespeare's plays, is nevertheless part of a conservative process in which inverted gender roles are ultimately restored to their "proper" positions.

As a way of placing dramas of female crossdressing within larger gender struggles, I am going to look briefly at three Shakespearean comedies, beginning with what I consider to be the most recuperative: Twelfth Night. Undoubtedly, the crossdressed Viola, the woman who can sing both high and low and who is loved by a woman and by a man, is a figure who can be read as putting in question the notion of fixed sexual difference. For Catherine Belsey that blurring of sexual difference opens the liberating...

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This section contains 3,284 words
(approx. 11 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Essay by Jean E. Howard
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Critical Essay by Jean E. Howard from Literature Criticism Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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