Tuesday, January 15, 2019
A Study of Homoeroticism in Twelfth Night
Twelfth Night is a major site for homoerotic discourse in queer studies. However, the contri exclusivelye is largely c erstrned with the idea of hinge onual love, like or so(prenominal) of Shakespe bes comedies. In gear up to investigate his subject further, Shakespeare periodi nattery uses homoeroticism in order to tally different forms of relationships. The pairings of Olivia and Cesario/genus genus Viola, Antonio and Sebastian, and Orsino and Cesario/Viola, demonstrate that same- sex activity erotic attraction is a major bow in the play. Violas secretive cross-dres utter causes Olivia to believe that two of them are participating in normal, straight person interactions, while in reality they interact in a homoerotic fashion. These complex, homoerotic re stupefyations serve to dramatize the accessiblely constructed basis for end of sexuality according to ones sexual activity individualism. I intend to establish that in this play Shakespeare dramatically criticises the idealized norms of straight personity (required by his society) by with(predicate) commission his narrative on representations of homoerotic pairings and deconstructing dominant gender categories.What is the difference mingled with a figurative and a literal analogy?Violas transvestism spurs various relationships that fall within the bounds of homoeroticism. Through the secret of her disguise, her actions illustrate the flaws of amicablely constructed gender identities, defined by the socially perceived opposites of aggressive, only ifch masculinity, and silent, so far coquettish, femininity, checked by behaviour of staminates. Violas success in perpetrating her secret transvestism indicates that the construction and performance of gender is not dependent on ones physiological eventistics but on ones behaviour, as swell as upon a bushel of light upond and internalised fashionisms. Violas representation of homoerotic interaction in Olivias love for her, and in he r own love in Orsino as Cesario, disrupts the traditional, feminist us vs. them principle, and demonstrates that constructed, socially acceptable gender identities of the feminine and masculine are attributes that can be found in either manlike or egg-producing(prenominal).In the closing view of the play, when Violas act is exposed If no affaire allows to make us beaming both / more everywhere this my masculine usurped attire, That I am Viola (V.i.249-253), Sebastian, Violas pair off brother, easily steps into the vacuum left by the revelation of Cesarios identity marrying Olivia as he states, So comes it, lady, you devour been mistook. / You would have been contracted to a maiden, / Nor are you in that respectin, by my life, deceived. You are betrothed both to a maid and man (V.i.259-63). The twins symmetrical character demonstrates to us that even the inherent military position of the world is not a gendered duality. The differently-gendered identical twins show a collapse of sexual difference as a natural process, indicating that nature never intended man to be constrained by gender binaries. Orsino proclaims One face, one voice, one habit, and two persons, / A natural perspective, that is and is not (V.i.215-6), stating that nature is able to create two identical beings despite the natural sex difference between brother and sister, manly and distaff.The same pattern that allows a female Viola to be a male Cesario quasi(prenominal)ly allows male pseudos portraying female characters to seem authentic, despite their natural gender. Upon mistake Sebastian for Cesario/Viola, Feste remarks Nothing that is so is so, (IV.i.8), indicating that gender is not dependent solely on physical attributes. Feste later adds, That that is, is (IV.ii.15), causerieing on his own dressing as a Parson while Feste is really a fool. This same phrase extends to comment on the fact that Viola is male so long as she portrays a male, that gender is dependant on societys perception and not on ones private parts. When Olivia queries Cesario for his identity, What are you? What would you? (I.v.207-208) and Cesario/Viola cryptically replies that what he is and would be is as secret as maidenhead (I.v.211)), Viola alludes to her true gender.However, in addition, she excessively hints at Sebastians virginity that the latter admits to in the final act of the play, stating Olivia is betrothed both to a maid and man (V.i.263). When the effects of these statements at combined, it is interesting to observe that Cesarios response to Olivias query refers to the maidenheads of Cesario, Viola, as well as the boy actor playing her As Viola states later on I am all the daughters of my fathers house, / And all the brothers too (II.iv.120-1).Twelfth Night interrogates the exclusive nature of constructed gender categories and challenges the heterosexual hegemony by constructing representations of same-sex love. Violas imitation of the male gender demonstr ates to us that erotic attraction is neither inherently based in gender, nor a solely-heterosexual phenomenon since Olivia becomes attracted to Viola (as Cesario), and Orsino to Cesario. In the play, homoeroticism does not follow gender stereotypes of the bisexual male or the masculine female, as in the case of Antonios warmness for Sebastian despite Antonios stereotypically-masculine identity, that Shakespeare shows to us when Antonio took Sebastian from the breach of the sea. Antonios love for Sebastian is portrayed, when Antonio states, If you go out not tally me for my love, let me by your servant (II.i.33-4) and, laterI have many enemies in Orsinos court, But come what may, I do adore thee soThat danger shall seem sport, and I entrust go. (II.i.51-4)Both Antonio and Sebastian are swordsmen, possessors of a very masculine skill, and yet both engage in homoerotic relations. It is interesting to note that, despite the fact that Sebastian is more than resistant and feminin e in comparison to Antonio as he wishes to avoid causing harm, utilizing apparently his daggers hilt, despite Sir Andrew salient(ip) him and paying the pestering Feste to leave Sebastian alone, instead of striking him, in the first scene of act four (lines 17-25) Sebastian is the one who succumbs to the social constructions of masculinity and heterosexuality when he marries Olivia in the final act of the play. Meanwhile, the macho Antonio remains homosexual, as seen in his silence at Sebastians wedding, which speaks louder than any song protest.Such relationship dynamics in the play disrupt the social thought, prevalent in Shakespeares (and even current) time that the heterosexual man is supposed(a) to be a macho figure and homosexual man is meant to be effeminate. Similarly, Violas feminine quality in playing Cesario inspires love in Olivia kind of than the aggressive male traits of Orsino. Viola becomes a better man when she deviates from the behavioral script set come out in Orsinos Petrarchan sonnet a male form that silences the woman as an unattainable distanced goddess. The Petrarchan sonnet form, although addressed to females, was normally read by males, used to solidify elite homosocial bonds (Marotti 396-428) as well as to promote a social discourse designed by and for men (Vickers 96). Violas deviation from this male form creates a new female (perhaps lesbian) poetic within the pastoral setting that she constructs in her response to Olivias refusal to love OrsinoMake me a willow cabin at your gateAnd call upon my soul within the houseWrite loyal cantons of contemned loveAnd sing them loud even in the dead of nightHallow your nominate to the reverberate hills,And make the babbling gossip of the airCry out Olivia (I.v.263-8)Thus, Viola (as Cesario) creates a space for Olivias reply, whereas Orsinos script (Lady, you are the cruelst she alive / If you will lead these graces to the grave / And leave the world no copy (I.v.236-8) prevents re sponse, frankincense portraying Olivia as an object incapable of response. Olivia anticipates her own objectification, interjecting to sayOh, sir, I will not be so hardhearted. I will hitout divers schedules of my beauty. It shall be inventoried,and every particle and utensil tagged to my willas, item, two lips, indifferent red item, two grey look with lids to them item, one neck, one chin, andso forth. (I.v.239-44)She understands the ways in which she is reducible to an item, whose qualities populate of a checklist of characteristics, which, in turn, identify her as an unattainable, silent object of beauty. In contrast to such a mode of communication, Violas encouragement for response causes Olivia to present her ring to Cesario/Viola.While attempting to win Olivias heart, Cesario deviates from socially constructed male behaviour ironically, this results in Olivia pursuing Cesario in a masculine action. This scenario undermines the construction of categorical sex via the succes s of Cesario by acting as a female. Similarly, the portrayal of a supposedly heterosexual relationship, that puts the female in the place of power, counters the social norm that places the male at the helm of a relationship. One finds a similar situation in the fourth scene of the second act, where Orsino remarks that in love, a woman does not suffer so much as a man (93-118), to which Viola (as Cesario) vehemently responds, telling Orsino of her love for him indirectlyIn faith, they are as true of heart as we.My father had a daughter loved a man She never told her love,But let concealment, like a worm ithbud,Feed on her damask cheek. She pined in thought,And with a green and yellow melancholyShe sat like intentness on a monument,Smiling at grief. Was not this love thence?We men say more, swear more, but indeedOur shows are more than will for still we proveMuch in our vows, but unretentive in our love. (II.iv.105-118).Viola aggressively and passionately describes her exertion th ough a story, taking on the role of the man she controls the discourse as she impersonates herself, and objectifies herself as allegorical Patience on a monument (II.iv.14), in a verbal tour de force. Paradoxically, Viola affirms her patience and feminine character by means of being masculine (according to the gender paradigms Orsino proposes). Viola strongly explains the patience and gentility of a woman, as a disguised woman, therefrom deconstructing the categories of sex in general, and those of femininity as patience and masculinity as aggression, in specific.As well, Viola challenges the patriarchal social order of her society by demonstrating how she, a transvestite, is capable of deconstructing gender categories. Further, the very fact that the action in the darn the wooing of Olivia, unbeknownst to Sebastian, and the wooing of Orsino is mostly attributed to Viola through her planning and action demonstrates the female in power instead of a male. This fact, combined with the inaction of the male characters in the play, destabilizes another traditional notion of gender identity the female as the prized possession and the male as its conqueror.The final act of the play exposes the failure of the dominant, heterosexual regime to in full regulate its own narrative ideals, since, in order to achieve a happy, heterosexual ending, which befits a traditional comedy, a series of improbable plot turns must take place. This structural necessity indicates to us that Shakespeare is ambivalently invested in the heterosexual standards that he imposes upon his play. The unlikelihood of various irrational plot turns, and easily interchangeable affections, necessary to end the play with these successful, formed relationships shows the failure of imposing heterosexual ideals in society.Despite the absurd twists in the play, there remains slightly untouched deconstruction of gender as well as some latent homoeroticism in the play. In line 263 of the first scene of ac t five, Sebastian says that he is both man and maid, in reference to his virginity, but also in reference to his character traits being both male and female. This admission destabilizes the configuration of gender by attributing Sebastian with both male and female physical attributes, albeit figuratively. This also maintains a measure of homoeroticism in Sebastians character. Further, Orsino comments that Viola is both man and maid as well in that Olivia will remain a man so long as she dresses in mans garbCesario, comeFor so you shall be, while you are manBut when in other habits you are seen,Orsinos mistress and his fancys queen. (V.i.385-388)This remark concludes that identity, gender, and its foundations are simply as interchangeable as clothing, and gender depends on the characters actions and not their physical attributes.Ultimately, the ending of Twelfth Night is not entirely ideal, since many characters Viola, Sebastian and Olivia are not completely happy, having succumbe d to the pressures of heterosexual conformity. The true homosexual union of male and female character pairs challenges the heterosexual dominance over homosexual interaction. Viola may have won Orsino she may even marry Orsino, but she is not completely happy since Orsino mere moments ago was willing to demolish their friendship for Olivias sake (Farewell, and take her, but direct thy feet / Where thou and I henceforth may never meet (V.i.166-7)).Likewise, Sebastian, although happy with Olivia, seems happier when he sees Antonio once again at the end of the play, and exclaims in a romantic manner upon seeing him, saying, Antonio, O my dear Antonio / How have the hours racked and tortured me / Since I have lost thee Finally, while Olivia is set to wed Sebastian, she seems more jubilant with find to having Viola as a sister, A sister You are she (V.i.327), thus expressing her deeper interest in Viola rather than Sebastian.Since Shakespeares society chose to regulate the sexual and ge ndered expression of its people, Shakespeare comments on the ideal norms of heterosexuality in Twelfth Night, demonstrating, through carefully constructed contradictions, that gender is a mere social construction. That in actuality there are no boundaries to behaviour and that there is no such thing as homoeroticism or hetero-eroticism but only Eros, regulated by attraction, love and relationship. True homosexual union of male and female character pairs in this play (as both actors are male), challenges the heterosexual dominance over homosexual interaction. Having done so, Shakespeare, due to societal prejudice, reverts to heterosexual discourse, acknowledging that despite the loyalty of sex and gender, one must abide, for practical reasons, by the demands of social majority.