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Comparing Taming of the Shrew to Twelfth Night both by Shakespeare, what similarities...

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andrewmezzo | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted February 16, 2012 at 12:14 PM via web

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Comparing Taming of the Shrew to Twelfth Night both by Shakespeare, what similarities in specific lenses can they be viewed through?

E.G: Biographical, Formalism, Historicism, New criticism, Psychoanalytical, Reader-Response,Gender Studies, and Class studies


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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 16, 2012 at 1:14 PM (Answer #1)

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The most obvious lense that you can use to compare these two brilliant comedies is that of gender studies. Both texts raise massive questions about the role of women and in particular the presentation of gender as something that, in the case of Viola, can be fluid.

If we think about the "taming" of Katarina on the one hand, her famous speech at the end of the play becomes very problematic when we think about her fiery character at the beginning of the play and how she has changed so completely to now being happy to have her husband place his foot upon her head and submit to complete male domination in her marriage. This begs us to consider the concept of gender roles and leads us to approach the conclusion of this play with a more nuanced understanding of gender.

In the same way, much has been written of the relationship between Orsino and Cesario before he morphs into Viola and Orsino's "fancy's queen." Note what he says as the four main characters leave the stage at the end of the play before Feste finishes the play off with his song:

Cesario, come;
For so you shall be, while you are a man;
But when in other habits you are seen,
Orsino's mistress and his fancy's queen.

Whereas most comedies end up with a reaffirmation of gender, the fact that in this play Viola significantly does not return to her feminine garb by the end is something that suggests a much more fluid conception of gender roles and identity.


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