Gender Identity in “Twelfth Night”

April 24, 2020 by Essay Writer

Gender identity and alternative sexuality tend to differ, in the reading of the Twelfth Night and the Globe production, because of certain scenes with comical relief. The play portrays itself as comical due to its all male cast having both female and male characters. While the written version of the play was always less humorous, because the gender roles were set with a traditional cast of female actors for female characters.

According to the Bulman article, the written play and the Globe production took a true Elizabethan approach bycasting an all male cast for the production of the Twelfth Night play. The roles of Olivia and Viola in the Trevor Nunn version of the play, showed the audience a female on female homoerotic relationship between Olivia and the actress who played the role of Cesario.

Which was a trait the written version, and the Globe Production, attempted to avoid by making the characters all males.

According to the Bulman article, the all male production and the written version differ from the Trevor Nunn Film because of its comedic effect. The Bulman article explains, Drag is a sly parody of femininity (pg.84). The drag aspect of an all-male cast discussed in the Bulman article involved actors dressing up in drag adding certain comic benefits of drag (pg.84). The all-male comedic aspect of the play is something the Trevor Nunn film version of the play missed with the choice of a traditional cast.

A scene that I believe failed to make its original point because of the traditional casting choice in the Trevor Nunn film version of the play, was the scene where Malvolio addresses Olivia about the letter. He confesses his love in the process and I believe it loses some of it’s humor because of the male to female interaction.

A scene that was improved by the casting in the Trevor Nunn film version of the play was the scene where Viola, disguised as Cesario, began to engage in a kiss with Orsino while Feste sang a soft song in the background of the same room.

We men may say more, swear more, but indeed

Our shows are more than will, for still we prove

Much in our vows, but little in our love. (2.4 100-105)

This scene was definitely improved by traditional casting because of how awkward the situation was. It is even relatable because many heterosexual couples have experienced the awkwardness of a third wheel being involved.

If I were in charge of producing a version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night I would use

continue to use the Elizabethan approach to cast for the play. The reason being is that it is a remarkable experience when so many people are on board with this type of a production. The Bulman article touches on this a bit when it is explained how much more casual and in the norm these types of productions were to people of the era. It was originally supposed to include children, but because of the taboo aspect of the scenes in our westernized day in age, it would never be accepted. Same goes for the ignorance of male to male sexuality. Many viewers of these Shakespearean plays were able to truly connect and relate with these characters to a certain degree. This brings me to modern America, where we can not fully accept the way many people choose to live their lives.

I suppose there are people who would like to see a more traditional approach because of

the way they may view gender identity and sexuality, but I don’t see an issue in the latter.

Although a traditional cast does make gender identities easier for first time viewers to

understand, it sacrifices the humor elements in the play that are addressed more directly in an all-

male cast production. The humor in the play would diminish completely if it weren’t for the play containing an all male cast, and would seem perplexed and in some parts, unnecessary.

In reference to characters that I would develop better, I would probably have to chose the random towns people throughout the play. They are introduced but have only a small role in the play. While they are trying to commit murder at one point, I feel like that gives them enough of a reason to develop their characters.They provide comedic relief in the play where some might feel uncomfortable in other scenes. This provides a sort of compromise so that it can appeal to a larger audience.

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