Essay Sample on Gender Identity in Twelfth Night

Published: 2023-05-21
Essay Sample on Gender Identity in Twelfth Night
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Shakespeare Human sexuality Social issue Gender in literature
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 990 words
9 min read

Gender identity issues and alternative sexualities present themselves differently; one reads The Twelfth Night than when viewing the globe production by James Bulman in "Bearding the Queen: Male Cross-Dressing at the New Globe." Gender identity and alternative sexualities are employed as the concept of self-identity. How Viola cross-dresses while Cesario aids in displaying the benefit she obtained than when she was still a woman then as compared to when she was a man. Some of the stylistic devices such as the dramatic irony quote like, "...A little thing would make me tell them how much I lack a man(3.4.255-6) re-happens throughout the text and can be viewed as a reminder that the characters herein possess undying femininity.

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Viola undergoes an identity transformation ad like her name; the behavior disrupts the conservative female behavior, having stayed alone in an authoritative male society after losing her father and brother, which was hard to come to terms with. However, Viola works like a male and even wears female attire, which signifies a practical way of survival though she reveals herself as a female. Through cross-dressing, she manages to replace herself as a male to take charge of her life.

Contrastingly, in James Bulman's "The globe production in the Beading Queen: Male Cross-Dressing at the New Globe," gender identity issues and cross-dressing are considered performative juxtaposed to innate (Bulman 75). However, gender itself is viewed as a cultural construct a sexual desire contrary to a simple difference in biology meaning; it is marked by external code of conduct and situational behavior than significant and interior gender identity.

The issues of gender identity and alternative sexualities are also presented in Twelfth Night through extra-textual cross-dressing. The characters' gender coherence is realized in a dramatic text and can be shown through cross-dressing. The use of characters such a Viola, the character manipulated to assume the role of both males and females. The use of dramatic irony and double entendre enhances the relationship of characters with the audience or readers. The resourceful of Cesario as Viola, empathetic and presents various desires in distinct characters as a representation of real cross-dresser desire.

Also, gender identity and sexualities register differently in James Bulman's "The globe production in the Beading Queen: Male Cross-Dressing at the New Globe." Crossdressing is treated as a means of adding flavor or comic effect to the dramatic play. From James Bulman's point of view, drag is a mere sly parody of femininity (Bulman 84). Hence, the play ignores the selection of traditional cast as well as all aspects of male -comedy.

James Bulman, in his notes, states that all-male production varies from a traditional version where men play men and women too, play women projecting uniform members for the plays (Bulman 76). The stage of Elizabethan is seemingly different from the old version in which every gender old would execute their gender roles, meaning; it was inclusively an all-male cast wearing Elizabethan dress as they cross-dressed. An all-male production of the Elizabethan stage is where overall fluidity and multiplicity are realized when channelling sexual energies.

I agree with the thesis of James Bulman that an old version would not be similar ad would have eliminated the comic relief and the pun of those cross-dressed men. Viola's casting disguised as Cesario is confirmed to be more recognized as in the performance of the globe; all-male cast performed as alienating plan to relate with gender identity ad sexual desire. The audience was receptive over the gender provocations in a renowned venue like the globe that massively appeals to school children, families, and tourists.

If the production of this play's version were to be done, I would cast it, taking into consideration the gender and traditional cast method since it would simplify and appealing to a large section of the audience. By casting female-female and male-male in their typical gender, the audience would find it easy to comprehend gender identity issues and alternative sexualities depending on who plays the role. However, the old casting method would pose its demerits with elements of humor in the play sacrificed and directly addressed when all male-male cast is presented.

The significant factor that would influence my judgment on the kind of production would include the kinds of audiences showing up for the play. If the play were to be performed before an audience familiar with Twelfth Night and Shakespeare, I would consider an all-male production technique to aid in boosting the comic effect and a sense of humor throughout the presentation. Hence, my casting choice will base on both circumstances and the audience involved.

Additionally, the audience would influence my choice of casting if they are familiar with Shakespeare or Twelfth Night to ensure that they acknowledge the homoerotic undertone amid presentation for instance, in Twelfth Night, Antonio talks to Sebastian saying, "...I could not stand behind you. My desire/sharper than filed steel did spur me forth (III, III, 4-5). The relationship between Antonio and Sebastian can be seen adopting a homoerotic tone. Still, when in the production, Antonio is seen as a mentor and a caregiver to Sebastian; hence, the first-time audience would find it challenging to identify the homoerotic nature of Sebastian and Antonio's relationship.

Conclusively, gender identity and homosexuality is essentially a controversial topic as nations make progress in achieving equality about seventy-three of them would consider homosexuality illegal even though society today is somewhat more progressive as compared to medieval England in which homosexuality was abolished by law, and those who were involved were punished severely. Gender identity and sexualities, on the other hand, slightly vary from the reading of The Twelfth Night by Shakespeare and Bulman's "The global production" due to specific scenes having comic relief. This play depicts itself as comic relief, unlike the written version which is less humorous.


Samelius, L., & Wagberg, E. (2005). Sexual orientation and gender identity issues in development: A study of policy and administration.

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