Homoerotic Relationships In Shakespeare Essay

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Zack Clever Dr. Galloway English 330 November 7, 2014 The Transformation of Relationships in Shakespearean Comedies William Shakespeare’s comedies cover an array of themes associated with sexuality, from gender reversals to the same-sex relationships. Yet, perhaps the most consistent and prominent focus of his plays is homoeroticism. Since this theme of homoeroticism proceeds from the prohibition of women on English stage, consequently young female roles were typically played by young boys, which may have played a role in the theme’s reoccurrence (Bullion 1). A suggestion made by Stephen Orgel explains that the prohibition from women on the English stage possibly stems from a culturally ingrained anxiety towards women, especially concerning…show more content…
Based on this concept, a transformation of relationships in Shakespearean comedies can be witnessed beginning with “homosocial” and ending with “androgynous”. Shakespeare first constructed “homosocial” relationships, which is defined as same-sex bonding without the presence of sexual desire, as seen in A Midsummer’s Night Dream and The Merchant of Venice. The next type of relationship that can be observed is “homoerotic ” relationships, or same-sex affiliations based on love and physical desire, which can be identified in the plays As You Like It and Twelfth Night, or What You Will. “Bisexual” relationships, people who experience love and physical desire oriented towards both sexes, are the next stage of Shakespeare’s relationship transition, and can be seen in Twelfth Night, or What You Will. The final transition is the “androgynous” relationship, consisting of two individuals who possess both “masculine” and “feminine” psychological qualities, which can also be seen in Twelfth Night, or What You Will. Sara Deats describes these qualities as follows: “[…] the masculine [is associated] with active, instrumental traits—leadership, courage,…show more content…
This very play also offers a glimpse of the first three bisexual characters as well: Olivia, Orsino, and Sebastian. The pattern again, for the three characters, is to reach self-realization and ultimately marry at the play’s end. The question of bisexuality can be construed as either a lifestyle, or rather a mechanism/process to propel one’s development toward adulthood and marriage. Another likelihood that the several incidences of bisexuality and the emergence of the androgynous twins, Viola and Sebastian, could possibly serve to “open up space” for an inward marriage. To further explain this idea, the twins Viola and Sebastian embody the pinnacle of the pattern of self-realization through friends and lovers, and adjoin the notion that we better know ourselves, the more aware we are to our own

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