Disguise and gender confusion

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  • Disguise and gender confusion
    • Purpose of Viola's disguise
      • Adds to the comical nature of the play
      • Mistaken identity- common characteristic of Shakespeare's comedies
        • Creates confusion and dramatic irony; the audience feel superior knowing Viola's true identity
      • Necessary to develop the story line
      • Shakespeare challenges Elizabethan conventions of women  and love by giving Viola this disguise
    • Critic's views
      • Lisa Hopkins- traditional view that marriage provides comic closure is rarely achieved in Shakespeare plays
        • Orsino and Viola's relationship is based on mistaken identity; still refers to her as 'boy'
      • Juliet Dusinberre- Shakespeare portrays witty females to challenge social norms and sees men and women as equal in a world that declares them unequal
      • Clara Caiborne Park- Shakespeare had a limited view on women- female assertiveness viewed with hostility
      • Emma Smith- Orsino questions his sexuality, fell in love with Cesario
    • Viola's disguise isolates her from the other characters
      • She only has one soliloquy, where she confides in the audience
        • She comments on the 'frailty' of women, she believes they are weak
          • Women have been deceived by disguises since Eve was deceived by the serpent in the garden of Eden
        • Realisation Olivia has fallen for her facade
      • 'Disguise I see thou art a sickedness'
        • Apostrophe- speech is addressed to her disguise (personifies it)
          • Shows the dominance of her disguise and how it controls her
      • 'And I poor monoster'
    • Viola's disguise allows her, paradoxically, to gain an intimacy with Orsino
      • Given aristocratic courtships in the Elizabethan era, it is unlikely that men and women would have ever been alone together
      • 'We men may say more..'
        • Fake plural 'we', juxtaposed by Viola saying 'her' (meaning herself) shows Viola thinking about different identities and the strain of these adjustments on her disguise

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