Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Gender and Sexual Identity in Twelfth Night

Today gender and sexuality is constantly a topic brought up within society. What is gender? How does it differ from sexual orientation? These questions along with several others are asked by many as we dive into the topic of gender and sexuality. Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night happens to spark those type of questions even though it was written centuries ago. For instance, Viola is cross-dressing as a boy, yet the Duke falls in love with her or is it her male persona. It is true that Viola is true to herself the entire play even dressed as a guy, but there are several inclinations that it could be possible that her relationship with the Duke more began when he was unaware of her being a girl. I guess it honestly depends on how the reader interprets the play. I feel like it doesn’t really matter. Regardless if the romance actually started when Viola was pretending to be a man or not is irrelevant. For some, this concept is difficult to understand. However, to me it is a very simple one. Love is genderless. It should not make a difference if the love is between two men it’s still love.

I was lucky enough to take two interesting classes (which strangely coincided with one another, not on purpose either) dealing with gender and sexuality last semester, that I feel really helped me see this play in a different light. Last semester we discussed in both my gender studies and LGBTQ theater class that there is such thing as “the umbrella” where many of the labels we in society give to ourselves and others fall under. There are many labels and often times it is a little overwhelming to understand which each one means. There are a lot of specific labels to truly capture one individual. Many people are not afraid to explain their own identifiers though, and all you have to do is ask the question. Choose not to be ignorant, instead ask questions and educate yourself on those terms. 

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