Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 215
On Not Being Deceived: Rhetoric and the Body in Twelfth Night
Lorna Hutson, Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London
Elder Loveless. Mistres, your wil leads my speeches from the purpose. But as a man—
Lady. A Simile servant? This room was built for honest meaners, that deliver themselves...
(The entire section contains 15683 words.)
See This Study Guide Now
Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.
On Not Being Deceived: Rhetoric and the Body in Twelfth Night
Lorna Hutson, Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London
Elder Loveless. Mistres, your wil leads my speeches from the purpose. But as a man—
Lady. A Simile servant? This room was built for honest meaners, that deliver themselves hastily and plainely, and are gone. Is this a time or place for Exordiums, and Similes, and metaphors?1
"Shakespearean comedy," writes Stephen Greenblatt, "constantly appeals to the body and to sexuality as the heart of its theatrical magic."2 Without wishing to disparage the enterprise of writing histories of the body, or indeed to underestimate what such histories have accomplished in terms of enhancing our understanding of early modern culture , I would like in the following pages to challenge the operation of a certain kind of "body history" within recent Shakespeare criticism. I do not so much want to disagree with Greenblatt's statement as it stands, as to argue that our understanding of how Shakespeare's comedy intervened, both in its own time and subsequently, to modify attitudes to sexuality and to gender has been more obscured than enlightened by the obsession with the "body" as Greenblatt here understands it, and with the kind of body history to which he and others have prompted us to turn.
Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 3031
I shall focus my argument on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, a play which, for all the curiously metaphoric, even disembodied nature of the language in which it articulates the desires of its protagonists, has nevertheless become the touchstone of this "body" criticism within Shakespeare studies. Yet it is worth remarking that the current critical interest in Twelfth Night as a play about the indeterminacy of gender and the arbitrary nature of sexual desire actually began with the contemplation not of the materiality of the body, but with that of the signifier. In much earlier twentieth-century criticism, Shakespeare's comedies have been appreciated as temporary aberrations from an established sexual and social order for the purposes of a thoroughly conservative "self-discovery" and return to the status quo.4 Saussurian linguistics, alerting critics to the way in which meaning in language is always the effect of a play of differences, enabled them to challenge such interpretations on their own terms by arguing that the conservative denouement was inadequate to contain and fix the meanings released by the play of differences. This was especially the case in comedies such as As You Like It and Twelfth Night, in which the fiction of a woman's successful masquerade of masculinity is complicated by the understanding of its having been originally composed for performance by a boy. Suddenly, instead of being about the discovery of one's "true" identity, or a "natural" social and sexual order, it seemed that what the comedies were about was the ease with which systems of sexual difference could be dismantled, and the notion of gendered identity itself called into question. This was important when it happened—the mid-1980s—because at the same time feminist critics were beginning to draw attention to the misogynistic implications of the transvestite theater, thereby throwing into confusion that venerable tradition of critical delight in the sprightliness of Shakespeare's girls-dressed-as-boys. How could we go on liking Rosalind and Viola in the knowledge that what they really represented was the denial to women of access to the histrionic exchanges in which they excelled and we took pleasure?5 Just in time poststructuralist criticism saved us from the agony of this dilemma by recuperating the double transvestitism of the comedies as a calling into question of the "fully unified, gendered subject," thereby producing, instead of a patriarchal Shakespeare, a Shakespeare who, in the words of Catherine Belsey, offered "a radical challenge to patriarchal values by disrupting sexual difference itself."6
Subsequently, the notion that what the comedies were about was really the indeterminacy of gender was given a new and historically authenticating twist by investigations into the history of biological definitions of gender which seemed to prove that, in the minds of Shakespeare's contemporaries, gender itself was a kind of comic plot, the happy denouement of which could only be masculinity. A special issue of Representations on "Sexuality and the social body in the nineteenth century" contained an article by Thomas Laqueur which, though primarily concerned with the politics of nineteenth-century reproductive biology, was nevertheless to have a considerable impact on Renaissance literary studies as a result of what its findings implied about the biological construction of gender in the early modern period. Laqueur drew our attention to a momentous, but overlooked event in the history of sexuality. Sometime in the late eighteenth century, the old belief that women needed to experience orgasm in order to conceive was abandoned. Women were henceforward to be thought of as properly passionless, because passive, participants in the act of sexual reproduction. What this implied was nothing less than a change in the existing physiology of sexual difference: the ancient Galenic model, according to which the hidden reproductive organs of women were merely a colder, imperfectly developed, and introverted type of the penis and testicles, requiring to be chafed into producing their seed, was replaced by the modern notion of the incommensurability of male and female reproductive organs. Laqueur's crucial point, however, was that the need to replace the old Galenic "metaphysics of hierarchy" between the sexes with an "anatomy and physiology of incommensurability" actually anticipated any real scientific understanding of women's reproductive makeup, and must therefore have been motivated not by scientific discovery, but by the need to find a new rationale for the exclusion of women from Enlightenment claims for the equality of men.7
I am ignorant of the effect of Laqueur's argument on nineteenth-century criticism, but the impact on Renaissance studies has been considerable. Writing in 1986 Laqueur cites, in a footnote, a paper on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night by Stephen Greenblatt, which was first published in 1985 in a collection called Reconstructing Individualism8 and subsequently included in Greenblatt's 1988 Shakespearean Negotiations as the essay, "Fiction and Friction." Both authors evince exactly the same ancient and sixteenth- and seventeenth-century medical texts—first and foremost, Galen on the exact parity between male and female reproductive organs ("think of the 'uterus turned outward and projecting': Would not the testes [ovaries] then necessarily be inside it? Would it not contain them like a scrotum? Would not the neck [the cervix], hitherto concealed .. . be made into the male member?"9) and then Galen's sixteenthand seventeenth-century readers, Ambroise Paré, Jacques Duval, Thomas Vicary, Helkiah Croke, and Jane Sharp.10 They also both cite Montaigne, who twice refers to a story also told by Ambroise Paré about the sex-change of Marie-Germaine, a contemporary inhabitant of Vitry-le-François, who had the misfortune or good fortune to realize her manhood by jumping too energetically over a stream, thus prompting the eruption of the appropriate genitals11.
Where Laqueur expounded the Galenic model of woman as introverted man in order to expose the politics of nineteenth-century reproductive biology and its denial of female orgasm, Stephen Greenblatt's identical quotations employ the model's stress on the defective "heat" of female reproductive organs, and the "friction" required to activate them, as an allegory for the "theatrical representation of individuality in Shakespeare." "Erotic chafing" writes Greenblatt, "is the central means by which characters in plays like The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night realize their identities and form loving unions."12 One might be forgiven for balking at the definition of The Taming of the Shrew as a fiction of "identity," or at the naturalization of its highly pragmatic argument of husbandry as a form of "erotic chafing"; Greenblatt, however, refrains from pursuing his argument in relation to this or indeed any of Shakespeare's comedies other than Twelfth Night. He puts the question of the relation of identity to erotic chafing—of fiction to friction—more persuasively by asking, "how does a play come to possess sexual energy?"13. The answer is supplied by a reading of Twelfth Night, the crux of which is a short speech made by the male twin, Sebastian, after Olivia has realized that his double, with whom she was in love, is a woman and his sister. "So comes it, lady," says Sebastian, "you have been mistook,"
But nature to her bias drew in that.
You would have been contracted to a maid;
Nor are you therein, by my life, deceiv'd:
You are betroth'd both to a maid and man.14
According to Greenblatt, the "nature" to which Sebastian refers is, precisely, the Galenic discourse of the one-gender body. Sebastian's reference to himself as "both a maid and man" consequently invokes the inherent instability of gender as construed by this model, which in turn enables a good, radical-sounding assault on more comfortable readings which essentialize sexual difference. Thus, Greenblatt quotes C. L. Barber's argument that, "the most fundamental distinction that the play brings home to us .. . is the difference between men and women" in order to reinforce, by contrast, the persuasiveness of his view that the fundamental physiological distinction between men and women is precisely what the play can't "bring home," historically speaking. At the end of Twelfth Night, as he points out, "Viola is still Cesario—'For so you shall be,' says Orsino, 'while you are a man' (5.1.386)—and Olivia, strong-willed as ever, is betrothed to one who is, by his own account, both 'a maid and a man.'"15 Notice just how closely this conclusion resembles the poststructuralist reading which found Twelfth Night calling into question, "the possibility of a fully unified, gendered subject." And, as with the poststructuralist argument, a crucial legacy of this reading is its obscuring of the need to account, in feminist terms, for the historical fact of the absence of women's bodies from the Renaissance stage. In the light of the Galenic theory of reproduction, concludes Greenblatt, it is easy to see that transvestitism actually "represents a structural identity between men and women—an identity revealed in the dramatic disclosure of the penis concealed behind the labia."16 And the dramatic fiction—an outrage to belief which is nevertheless endowed with generative because persuasive power—becomes analogous to the friction or chafing required, according to this Galenic model, both to warm women into conception, and to stimulate their reticent reproductive organs into realizing their latent virility.
Two years after Greenblatt's "Fiction and Friction" was published, Laqueur's thesis on the political and cultural investments of reproductive biology was published in book form as, Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud. The chapter on the pervasiveness of the Galenic model in Renaissance thought and culture carries an epigraph from Twelfth Night:
Sebastian [To Olivia]
So comes it, lady, you have been mistook.
But nature to her bias drew in that.
You would have been contracted to a maid;
Nor are you therein, by my life, deceived:
You are betrothed both to a maid and man.17
And he goes on to introduce the substance of his chapter thus:
Somehow if Olivia—played by a boy, of course—is not to marry the maid with whom she has fallen in love, but the girl's twin brother Sebastian; if Orsino's intimacy with "Cesario" is to go beyond male bonding to marriage with Viola, "masculine usurped attire" must be thrown off and woman linked to man. Nature must "to her bias" be drawn, that is, deflected from the straight path. "Something off center, then, is implanted in nature," as Stephen Greenblatt puts it, which "deflects men and women from their ostensible desires and toward the pairings for which they are destined." But if that "something" is not the opposition of two sexes that naturally attract one another—as it came to be construed in the eighteenth century—then what is it?18
The answer, of course, is the one-gender body according to Galen, with all its micro- and macrocosmic correspondences. The reading of a single Shakespeare play—or rather, the reading of five lines from a single Shakespeare play—seems to be doing a lot of work in supporting a circular argument about the relevance of body history to the question of how the magic of theater relates to the early modern conception of the body.
In the last five years, Laqueur's and Greenblatt's arguments and examples—Galen, Ambroise Paré, Jacques Duval, Helkiah Crooke, Jane Sharp, and (especially, perhaps) Montaigne—have been repeatedly invoked and quoted to support arguments about the pervasiveness of sixteenth-century fears that women might turn into men and men into women. Stephen Orgel thus accounts for the practice of having boys play women on the English stage by means of a complex argument whereby pathological fears about the chastity of women are weighed against equally pathological "fantas[ies] of a reversal from the natural transition from woman to man," which "are clearly related to anatomical theories of the essential homology of male and female." "Many cases," he writes, "were recorded of women becoming men through the pressure of some great activity."19 The endnote to this large claim refers not to women, but to alligators, but as the previous note referred the reader to Laqueur's Representations article and to Greenblatt's "Fiction and Friction," we can be reasonably sure that the "many cases" in question are in fact the single case of Marie-Germaine, cited by both Paré and Montaigne. It is true that both Montaigne and Paré liken the case of Marie-Germaine to other examples; these, however, being drawn from such authors as Pliny and Ovid, scarcely seem to constitute "many cases being recorded" in the times of the authors concerned.20 Judith Brown's well-researched Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy exaggerates less, but still enlarges the evidence: "in a few cases women did not just imitate men, but actually became men," she writes, citing Greenblatt.21 More recently, Valerie Traub's Desire and Anxiety: Circulations of Sexuality in Shakespearean Drama—which contains an interesting and persuasive account of Twelfth Night—claims, citing both Greenblatt and Laqueur, that fear of turning into a woman "may have been a common masculine fantasy" in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.22 Traub's critical project involves enlarging Orgel's contention that the homoerotics of the Renaissance stage enabled "fantasies of freedom" for women as well as men23 by deconstructing the hierarchy of hetero-over homo-erotic readings of the plays, and revealing, as she puts it, "the polymorphous potential of desire itself, which Shakespeare so assiduously evokes and controls." Though such potential might not seem to have much to do with women in an exclusively male theater, Traub argues that boys were available to women as objects of fantasy, and in rejecting what she characterizes as the "feminist" interpretation of the boy player's significance (that is, the boy-player as instrument of the patriarchal control of female chastity) reveals her indebtedness to Greenblatt in preferring to argue that the boy-payer represented, "an embodiment of the metadramatic theme of identity itself: always a charade, a masquerade, other." Laqueur provides further support for Traub's rejection of the idea that an all-male theater in itself argues either indifference to women's intelligent participation, or fear of the effects of such participation upon the reputation of women and their families. On Laqueur's evidence Traub proposes that
in spite of patriarchal control of female sexuality through the ideology of chastity and the laws regarding marriage, there seems to have been a high cultural investment in female erotic pleasure—not because women's pleasure was intrinsically desirable, but because it was thought necessary for conception to occur.24
Once again, as in Greenblatt and in Orgel, the focus on a medical discourse about the body enables a way of speaking of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century dramatic discourse, and of the position that it offered women in the audience, as exhaustively signified by its analogue, erotic arousal.
What bothers me most about these arguments is that while they seem to be historicizing and de-essentializing our ideas about the relationship of gender to sexuality, the "fantasies" and "anxieties" that they identify in early modern dramatic texts take no account at all of the way in which, in sixteenth-century society, a woman's sexual behavior was perceived to affect the honor and therefore the credit and economic power of her kinsmen.25 Nor do they consider the way in which such traditional conceptions of sexual honor, credit, and wealth were themselves being rapidly transformed by the technology of persuasion—or "credit"—that such dramatic texts as Shakespeare's represented. None of these critics appear to entertain the possibility that the capacity to plot, write, and be able to make use of the erudition and wit of a comedy such as Twelfth Night might in itself be more central to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century conceptions of what it meant to "be a man" than any theory derived from Galen. Moreover, for all the emphasis on plurality, the "polymorphous potential" and the "unmooring of desire" released by the comedies, there still seems to be a commitment to the twentieth-century "lit-crit" notion that what the comedies are really all about is individual identity. Traub explores how characters negotiate their individual desires in the plays as if they were real people and not even partly figures in a persuasive discourse or agents of a plot, while Greenblatt celebrates "the emergence of identity through the experience of erotic heat" as "this Shakespearean discovery, perfected over a six- or seven-year period from Taming to Twelfth Night."26 It seems that where literary criticism, as it was once conceived, celebrated the saturnalian energies of Shakespeare's comedies for returning us to a "natural" social and sexual order, these theorists of desire want to find a historically specific concept of "nature"—the Galenic one-sex body—that mimics what is actually their essentialized notion of culture as something which is always preoccupied with the theatrical destabilization of "identities"—identity is "always a masquerade, a charade, other." But what if the errors, confusions, and masquerades of comedy were not, in their own time, thought of as dramas of identity? And what if the way in which the plays construct sexual difference in relation to the audience crucially concerned not the sexual object-choice of men or women in the audience27, but whether or not they were able to make use of the play as a discourse, an argument, to enhance their own agency? When James Shirley wrote the preface to an edition of Beaumont and Fletcher's comedies, published in 1647, he called it the collection of
the Authentick Witt that hath made Blackfriers an Academy, where the three howers spectacle while Beaumont and Fletcher were presented, were usually of more advantage to the hopefull young Heire, then a costly, dangerous, forraine Travell . . . And it cannot be denied but that the young spirits of the Time, whose Birth and Quality made them impatient of the sowrer ways of education, have from the attentive hearing of these pieces, got ground in point of wit and carriage of the most severely employed students .. . How many passable discoursing dining witts stand yet in good credit upon the bare stock of two or three of these single scenes!28
I'd like to suggest that Shirley's final metaphor of young men as prodigals, living on the "credit" of an ability to recommend themselves to strangers, a "stock" of wit which they have learned from plays, might tell us something about the way in which Shakespeare's plays, for all that they invoke the magic of the reproductive body, nevertheless construct sexual difference by appealing to the male (because formally educated) mind.
Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 12437
My counter-argument depends on the claim that the kind of comic plot from which Shakespeare never wavered—the five-act plot derived from Terence and Plautus—was perceived in his own time to be concerned, not with the emergence of identity, but with men's discursive ability to improvise social credit, or credibility. For all its popular appeal, Shakespeare's drama had a rigorous intellectual basis in the deliberative or hypothetical structure of Terentian comedy as it was rhetorically analyzed in every grammar school.29 The rhetorical analysis of Terentian comedy, far from being a rigid intellectual straightjacket (as I was implicitly taught at school, where I learned that Shakespeare transcended his contemporaries by ignoring the classical unities) enabled the achievement of a drama that carried emotional conviction as an unfolding narrative of events—"a kind of history," as Shakespeare himself called it—by investing the representation of those events with the impression of an intelligible combination of causality and fortuitousness.30 Not only were Terentian plots themselves examples of how one might dispose an argument probably; they also offered images of male protagonists who were themselves able, in moments of crisis, to improvise a temporary source of credit (perhaps a disguise, or a fiction of being related to someone rich) that could defer disaster until the terms of the crisis had altered to bring in a fortunate conclusion. The commentaries of the fourth-century grammarian, Donatus, together with those of Melanchthon and other sixteenth-century humanists, were appended to every edition of Terence, with the effect that no schoolboy could escape noticing how the plays demonstrated that uncertain or conjectural arguments were more productive in social exchanges—because more productive of emotional credibility—than the traditional means of assuring of good faith by oaths or other tokens.31
The Terentian plot characteristically concerned an illicit sexual union between a well born young man and a prostitute, which in turn betrayed a promise made between his father and neighbor that the son should unite their houses by marrying the neighbor's daughter. Characteristically, too, the plot managed to lend emotional credibility to the highly improbable argument that the prostitute in question was, in fact, the long lost daughter of the neighbor, thereby reconciling in her person the laws of desire and those of social exchange. Donatus's commentary on Terence was discovered in 1433, and its impact on the composition of European drama evident by the early sixteenth century.
Formal effects upon sixteenth-century vernacular drama, however, were complicated by the ideological impacts of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, both of which revolutionized attitudes to sex, marriage, and the conjugal household in Europe. For example: Terentian comedy articulates a sense in which the space of prostitution is prophylactic; a household of male, citizen relatives is not dishonored by the entry of the heroine whose desirability was initially associated with her marginal status and sexual accessibility to the young hero. The plays therefore represent a society in which official to tolerance of prostitution first sanctions the initial violation of chastity and ensures that, once attached to a citizen house-hold, the woman will be protected by the very institution that once made her vulnerable. The Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, however, brought with them an end to ideologically sanctioned prostitution, so that, as Lyndal Roper writes of Augburg, "any sexual relationship outside marriage, and any occasion on which the sexes mingled . . . might lead to sin."32 The marginal status once overtly allocated to prostitutes became a covertly allocated category of suspicion embracing all women.
Nevertheless, there were differences in the way in which Catholic and Protestant Europe acknowledged this and reacted to the sexual mores of the Terentian plot. While the writers of Italian commedia erudita cynically substituted citizens' wives and daughters for the prostitutes of Roman comedy, northern humanists tempered their enthusiasm for New Comedy as a model of Latinity and eloquence with a distaste for its evident authorization of illicit financial and sexual transactions, that is, clandestine marriages and rhetorical and sartorial impostures of credit. Thus, while Ariosto was claiming to outdo Terence and Plautus with his brilliant I Suppositi in which conjectural arguments ("supposes") are manipulated by the dramatist and the heroes to facilitate and subsequently legitimize the defloration of a citizen's daughter, German and Dutch humanists were redeeming the Terentian plot of sexual and financial deception by adapting it to the New Testament parable of the talents and that of the prodigal son.33 The waste of money and dissipation of male sexual energy, became, in these reforming "Christian Terence" plays, analogous to the danger posed to civil society by the abuse of conjectural argument in what we might call the "technology of credit" represented by the Terentian plot.34
I use the word "technology" here to stress the material impact of the pedagogic dissemination of Terentian rhetoric. A pre-capitalist society necessarily guarantees its economic exchanges—exchanges of honor and wealth—by such instruments as oaths, which bind the faith of the contracting parties. The Terentian plot dramatizes a situation in which oaths and gestures of good faith bring about such an impasse as can only be resolved by exploiting the "error" or uncertainty about motive and intention which obtains between the participants in any social transaction. At a formal level, this very exploitation of error or uncertainty was the basis of the Terentian achievement of dramatic verisimilitude. Reformation dramatists were, therefore, concerned to appropriate the power of the Terentian formula to grant verisimilitude to dramatic fantasy, or to bestow credibility upon outrageous hypotheses, without endorsing the suggestion that this rhetorical "technology of credit" be exploited to facilitate deceptive sexual and financial exchanges in real life.
Much has been made, in recent discussions of "desire" on the English Renaissance stage, of the anti-theater writers' objections to the eroticized body of the boy player. These discussions evidently misunderstand the relationship of anti-theater writing to sixteenth-century neo-Terentian drama, with disastrously simplifying effects. Thus, for example, the title of one polemic against the stage, Stephen Gosson's Playes Confuted in Five Actions does not go unnoticed, but its relevance is missed; Laura Levine calls Gosson's conception of his attack as a five-act play "confused," while Jean Howard simply notes that Gosson "uses the five-act structure of classical drama to wage war on theatre."35 The point is that the five act Terentian argument represented, for educated sixteenth-century men, a technology of credit or of probability which, in its dramatic form, was perceived to be implicated in an ethos of betrayal, sexual and otherwise. Gosson's title indicates a need to appropriate dramatic probability for the cause of reform, as it moves from mocking native English drama's ignorance of verisimilitude to condemning the probable arguments of Italian commedia erudita for their thematic endorsement of sexual and financial deception:
When the soule of your playes is ... Italian baudery, or the wooing of gentlewomen, what are we taught? . . . the discipline we gette by these playes is like to the justice that a certaine Schoolmaster taught in Persia, which taught his schollers to lye, and not to lye, to deceive, and not to deceive, with a distinction how they might do it to their friends, & how to their enemies; to their friends, for exercise; to their foes, in earnest. Wherein many of his pupils became so skillful by practise, by custome so bolde, that their dearest friendes payde more for their learning than their enemies. I would wish the Players to beware of this kinde of schooling . . . whilst they teach youthfull gentlemen how to love, and not to love . . . As the mischiefe that followed that discipline of Persia enforced them to make a lawe, that young men should ever after, as householders use to instruct their families: so I trust, that when the Londoners are sufficiently beaten with the hurte of suche lessons that are learned at Plaies, if not for conscience sake, yet for shunning the mischief that may privately breake into every mans house, this methode of teaching will become so hateful, that even worldly pollicy . . . shal be driven to banish it.36 [my italics]
Gosson, of course, had himself been a dramatist; English playwrights were not ideologically immune to the effects of the Reformation, and were themselves torn between admiration for the rhetorical proficiency of Italian commedia erudita, and unease at its explicit promotion of an ethos of imposture and deception.
George Gascoigne thus produced an exuberant translation of Ariosto's irrepressible I Suppositi but followed it with the composition of an exceptionally harsh prodigal son play in which he argued that he would hence-forth be guilty of "no Terence phrase," since "Reformed speech doth now become us best."37 George Whetstone's two five-act plays concerning the exposition and punishment of illicit sex and the abuse of financial credit in a city like London were prefaced by an acknowledgment of the need for English dramatists to heed the Terentian rhetoric of probability, for the English play-wright "grounds his work on impossibilities." The problem, argued Whetstone, was that the available Continental models of a probable drama—commedia erudita and "Christian Terence"—were no use to the English dramatist: "at this daye, the Italian is so lascivious in his commedies that the worst hearers are greeved at his actions," while "the German is too holye: for he presentes on every common Stage, what Preachers should pronounce in Pulpets."38 As Shakespeare paid both Gascoigne and Whetstone the compliment of rewriting the plays in question, we may reasonably infer that he was aware of the difficulty of dissociating the productivity of the Terentian technology of probability from its implicit endorsement of violations of chastity and betrayals of household honor.39
Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, for all its currency as a drama of the body and sexual desire, is in fact so remarkably chaste that Elizabeth Barrett Browning's friend, Anna Jameson, writing a political and feminist criticism of Shakespeare in 1832 could exclaim, "how exquisitely is the character of Viola fitted to her part, carrying through her ordeal with all inward grace and modesty!"40 Jameson was not being naive or repressed about the sexual content of the play: a glance at the Italian or Roman models of any comedy by Shakespeare will reveal how consistently he chastened their arguments, displacing deep into his depiction of female "character" the signs of an inclination towards sexual betrayal that in his originals were explicit sexual acts. The lawyer John Manningham, seeing a performance of Twelfth Night at the Middle Temple in February 1602, noted that it was "much like the commedy of errors or Menachmi in Plautus, but most like and neere to that in Italian called Inganni."41 Although there is a play called "Inganni," Manningham was almost certainly thinking of Gl'Ingannati or "The Deceived," a play by the Accademia degli Intronati di Siena, written as an apology to the ladies for a sketch performed the previous evening, which was Twelfth Night, 1531.42Gl'Ingannati seems to have enjoyed a reputation for formal excellence only second, or perhaps not even that, to Ariosto. If Machiavelli (who himself translated Terence's Andria, the play central to Donatus's analysis) could urge the Tuscans to forget their prejudice against Ferarese Ariosto, for his "gentil composizione," the French Charles Estienne, dedicating his translation of Gl'Ingannati to the Dauphin in 1549, argued that this Sienese play surpassed even Ariosto, giving the reader the impression "que si Terence mesmes 1'eust composé en Italien, à peine mieux l'eust il sceu difer; inventer ou deduyer."43 [That if Terence himself had composed it in Italian, he would hardly have known better how to express, invent or handle it.] English readers were probably aware of the play's high literary reputation; the scholarly publisher, Girolamo Ruscelli, included a collection of Italian comedies "buone degne di legersi, & d'imitarsi," [well worthy of being read and imitated] to which he appended a critical apparatus "de' modi osservati in esse da gli antichi, cosi Greci come Latini" [in the manner observed in the case of ancient authors, both Greek and Latin] so as to make them into a book of "eloquentia."44
Behind the central plot device of both Ariosto's I Suppositi and Gl' ingannati (and remotely, therefore, behind Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew and Twelfth Night) lay the notorious play by Terence called Eunuchus, which concerns a young man's gaining access, on the pretext of being a eunuch, to the house in which a virgin is being kept, whom he proceeds to rape45. The subsequent predictable discovery of her citizenship makes her eligible for marriage without making him guilty of the rape of a citizen's daughter, since the house where he performed the rape was a brothel. Renaissance versions of the plot, of course, have to deal with what we might call the "homosocial" aspect of the crime—that is, the outrage to fathers and kinsmen—since the virgin is no longer found in a house of courtesans. Thus, Polinesta's father in I Suppositi lifts the genre into pathos with his sorrow at the loss of his daughter's honor in his own house. And in Gl'Ingannati, though there is less pathos, the scandal of the daughter's seduction is perhaps even greater, due to the bizarre means by which she is left alone with a man in her bedroom (her father assumed the man was a woman dressed up; maybe it is a reminiscence of this scandalous plot that has Viola asking to be presented "as an eunuch" to Orsino's court at the beginning of Twelfth Night46).
Gl'Ingannati begins with a contract between two old men, Virginio and Gherardo, whereby Gherardo is to marry Virginio's daughter, Lelia; "Ne pensar ch'io mi sia permutare di quel ch'io t'ho promesso" [Don't think I'll go back on what I've promised] says Virginio; a merchant's credit depends on keeping his word.47 But his daughter, Lelia—Shakespeare's Viola—has slipped away from her convent and, disguised as a page, has entered the service of Flammineo, with whom she is in love, but who is himself besotted with another, namely Gherardo's daughter, Isabella, the equivalent of Shakespeare's Olivia. Isabella receives letters and "embassies" [imbasciati] from Flammineo by means of his cute page, Fabio (Lelia in disguise) with whom she, of course, falls in love.
It is worth pointing out how much more explicit than Twelfth Night this play is about the fact that sexual desire is not gender specific. Indeed, it becomes very clear that what counts, in distinguishing those who may desire and ask, and those who must be passive, is not gender but social status.48 Thus, when Lelia's nurse, Clemenzia, finds out that, as Flammineo's page, she has been sleeping in the antechamber of his bedroom, she assumes he will ask her to sleep with him.49 And later, when Isabella's maid, Pasquella, asks Lelia, disguised as Fabio, why on earth "he" doesn't want to sleep with her mistress, Lelia-as-Fabio replies: "a me bisogna servire il padrone, intendi, Pasquella?" [I have to serve the master, you know what I mean, Pasquella?] and Pasquella does understand: "O io so ben che a tu padron non faresti dispiacere a venirci, non dormi forse con lui?" [Oh, I know very well that you don't displease your master by coming here; but you don't, by any chance, sleep with him?]. When Lelia replies, "Dio il volesse ch'io fosse tanto in gratia sua" [I wish I were so much in his favor] Pasquella is puzzled; "Oh non dormiresti piu volentieri con Isabella?" [Wouldn't you rather sleep with Isabella?], she asks. And she makes it clear, in an ensuing speech on the ephemerality of Fabio's good looks, that (as a fellow dependent herself) she regards the arrangement of sleeping with Isabella not so much as more "natural" than simply as more stable, practical, and fortunate in the long term for Fabio.50
In good Terentian fashion, the denouement of the play proves that the contract between the old men is not broken, though both are fortunately deceived; their houses are united not by the impotent old Gherardo's marrying Lelia, but by the passionately consummated union of Isabella with Lelia's long-lost twin bother, Fabrizio, who, like Shakespeare's Sebastian, doesn't question his good fortune in happening accidentally upon a rich woman who ardently desires him. But where Shakespeare's Olivia finds out who her lover really is by means of the words he speaks (which, as we've seen, have been recently been read as proof of the inherent instability of gender in sixteenth-century thinking about the body), Isabella and the audience of Gl'Ingannati discover who her lover is in a speech which is more explicitly designed to "appeal to the body." Pasquella, Isabella's maid, emerges from the room in which the two old men have locked Isabella and someone who they think is the truant Lelia, in boy's clothes:
Quei due vecchi pecoroni dicevan pur, che quel giovanetto era donna & rinserronelo in camera con Isabella mia padrona, & à me diede la chiave, io volsi entrar dentro, & veder quel facevano, & trovai che s'abbraciavano, & si baciavano insieme, io hebbi voglia di chiarirmi s'era maschio o femina. Havendolo la padrona disteso in sul letto, & chiamandomi ch'io l'aiutassi, mentre ch'ella gli teneva le mani, egli si lasciava vincere, lo sciolsi dinanzi, e a un tratto, mi sentii percuotere non so che cosa in su le mani, nè conobbi se gli era un pestaglioto [pestella], un garotta [carota], o pur quell' altra cosa, ma sia quel che si vuole, e now è cosa che habbia sentita la grandine. Come io la viddi cosi fatta fuggii, sorelle, & serai l'uscio, & sò che per me non vi tornarci sola, & se qualch'una di voi non me'l crede, & voglia chiarirsene, io gli prestarò la chiave.
those two old sheep insisted that young man was a woman, and shut him in the room with Isabella, my mistress, and gave me the key. I wanted to go in and see what they were doing, and, finding them embracing and kissing together, I had to satisfy myself as to whether the other51 was male or female. The mistress had him stretched out on her bed, and was asking me to help her, while she held him by the hands. He allowed himself to be overcome, and I undid him in front, and in one pull, I felt something hit my hand; I couldn't tell whether it was a pestle, or a carrot, or indeed something else, but whatever it was, it hadn't suffered from hailstones. When I saw how it was, girls, I fled, and locked the exit! And I know that as far as I'm concerned, I won't go back in alone, and if one of you doesn't believe me, and wants to satisfy herself, I'll lend her the key.]52
Pasquella then tries to persuade the distraught Gherardo that it isn't true—his daughter isn't really embracing a man: "vedeste voi ogni cosa, e miraste che gli è femina" [Did you see everything? Well, then you can see she's a woman]. But Gherardo is not to be appeased: "svergognato a me," he says, "I am dishonoured."53 Gherardo has been deceived, despite his own sharp awareness of the nebulous quality of sexual honor and its susceptibility to gossip.
Precisely because they involve citizens' wives and daughters rather than courtesans, Renaissance imitations of Terentian comedy exhibit a strong awareness of the resemblance of the Terentian technology of probability—the uncertain, or conjectural argument—to the everyday gossip that destroys female sexual honor. Ariosto makes this a theme in I Suppositi, where the nurse comes out of her house, onto the stage, anxious to avoid the spread of rumor within the walls, and proceeds to announce to the theatre at large that her charge has (probably) been sleeping with a household servant. But here in Gl'Ingannati the joke turns on the way that Gherardo's cautious calculations on the risks of mere probability, uncertainty, and conjecture—calculations as to whether an association with the transvestite (and hence probably promiscuous) Lelia would call Isabella's own sexual innocence into question—are overthrown, by the substitution of Fabrizio for Lelia in Isabella's bedroom, which ensures an unequivocally penetrative defloration. "L'ho veduto con questi occhi," says Gherado, "egli s'era spogliato in giubbone, et non hebbe tempo a corprisi .. . Io dico che gli e maschio, e bastarebbe a far due maschi" [I saw it with these eyes .. . he was undressed to his shirt and didn't have time to cover himself .. . I tell you he was a man, and had enough for two men].54
The rhetorical deceptions by means of which the play's argument attains its probability—"la façon de disposer & pursuyure leur sens & argumens en icelles, pour donner recreation aux auditeurs" that Charles Estienne so admired55—thus come to be associated with this act of penetrative sex. To the ladies in the audience, the prologue comments,
Questa Comedia per quanto io ne habbia intesto, la chiamano gl'Ingannati, non perche fossero mai ingannati da voi nò, . .. ma la chiamano cosi perche poche persone intervengono nella favola, che nel compimento non si trovino ingannati. Ma e ci son de gli ingannati tra gli altri d'una certa sorte, che volesse Iddio, per il mal ch'io vi voglio, che voi foste ingannate spesso cosi voi, et io fusse l'ingannatore .. . la favola è nuova, .. . ne meno altronde cavata che della loro industriosa zucca, onde si cavomo anco la notte di Beffana le sorti vostre . . .
[As far I understand it, they've called this comedy "The Deceived" not because they were ever deceived by you, oh no, . . . but they've called it so because there aren't many characters in the plot (favola) who don't, in the end, find themselves deceived. But there is among these deceptions one particular sort which makes me wish (for the malice I bear you) that you might be often deceived, if I were the deceiver .. . the plot is a new one . . . and is extracted from no other source than their busy pumpkin heads, from whence also came the fortunes you were allotted on Twelfth Night.]56
In this context, it looks as if the most significant single departure from the Italian variants on the plot of The Eunuch in Twelfth Night is its dissociation of the effectiveness of the original imposture of credit—the original pretense of androgyny or emasculation which effectively gains access to both to the person and to the heart of the wealthy Olivia—from the identification of its triumph as explicitly sexual (Fabrizio proving his virility with Isabella), rather than chastely marital (Sebastian contracted to Olivia). To a chance member of the audience of Twelfth Night in the Middle Temple in 1601 who saw the resemblance of Shakespeare's play to Gl'Inganni or Gl'Ingannati, meaning respectively "the deceits" and "the deceived," Sebastian's speech at the end might well recall these plays' themes and titles:
So comes it, lady, you have been mistook.
But nature to her bias drew in that.
You would have been contracted to a maid;
Nor are you therein, by my life, deceiv'd:
You are betroth'd both to a maid and man.
"Deceiv'd" surely here recalls its Italian translation, "ingannata," and no less surely, there is an ethical distinction being made here between being "mistook" and being "deceiv'd" that turns on the question of whether or not Sebastian is a "maid." His affirmation before the audience that he is both "a maid and man" is less a signal of his inherent androgyny than an assurance that Olivia, not having experienced the same "inganno" as Isabella, remains chaste, honorable, and a prize worthy his, Sebastian's, having.
To the argument implied here—namely, that the explicit eroticism of Gl'Ingannati makes interpretations of Twelfth Night that focus exclusively on the body and sexuality look a little contrived—it could be objected that I am being literal-minded about the theatrical representation of desire. It could be argued (and I would agree) that the very reticence and fantasticality of the amorous language of Twelfth Night ensures the "circulation" of desire or of sexual energy more effectively than the gleeful voyeurism of Gl'Ingannati. If this is so, however, it must also be acknowledged that the same linguistic reticence and latency of meaning which allows us, in the 1990s, to read Twelfth Night as a celebration of the polymorphous potential of desire, equally enabled Anna Jameson in 1832 to find in Viola a paradigm of the sexual self-control that qualified women for access to education and political life. For, within Laqueur's argument, Jameson belongs to that category of nineteenth-century women who based their claims for the recognition of women's political capacity on arguments proving their inherent moral strength.57 If the rest of Laqueur's argument for the importance of the eighteenth-century transition from the endorsement to the denial of female orgasm has substance, then it must follow that Shakespeare's own texts belong among the discourses that have, historically, helped to construct the moral characteristics felt to be appropriate to a biology of incommensurability—sexual difference—between the male and female. And this in turn would imply that, in their own time, Shakespeare's comedies were not just—in Stephen Greenblatt's words—fictions which "participated in a larger field of sexual discourses" but were fictions of the Reformation—that is, they were actively transformative of existing sexual discourses, tending to substitute the intimation of female sexual intention for the representation of the act which would implicate both sexes equally.58
It is, in fact, possible to trace through Shakespeare's plays a consistency of strategy (though not, of course, of effect) in his chastening of the roles and language of women. Whereas in his Italian and Roman sources, the significance of the "woman's part" to the resolution of the dilemma depends upon her having had sex, in Shakespeare this significance is translated into an implicit, or uncertain argument involving her disposition to have sex, or her "sexuality." To modern readers this can give the impression of a more complex "interiority" or "character" because its doubtfulness requires our interpretation. In the fraught context of the emergent commercial theatre of sixteenth-century England, however, Shakespeare's chastening of Italian and Roman dramatic models was motivated by the need to prove that the productively deceptive arguments of a Terentian-style theatre need not, as its enemies suggested, necessarily advocate the breakdown of trust and honor by endorsing every kind of sexual and financial deception in contemporary society.59
To attempt a reading of Twelfth Night that would seriously try to take account of the play's place in the history of sex and gender would require some elaboration of how, in common with other Shakespeare plays, this comedy makes a theme of being implicated in a humanistic literary culture which, through its privileging of skill in persuasive argument, was in the process of transforming relations of economic and social dependency. Current discussions of the subversive erotics of the Renaissance stage trivialize the economic and social issues at stake in Twelfth Night and similar plays by reducing the whole of the humanist literary culture of which the theatre was a product to the most banal version of Greenblatt's "self-fashioning"—a mere "increased self-consciousness about the fashioning of human identity as a manipulable, artful process."60 "Self-fashioning" thereby becomes synonymous with a quite unspecific notion of "theatricality," which in turn is easily assimilated to the concept of "performativity" articulated by Judith Butler in relation to the category of gender.61 The sixteenth-century investment in masculine education, which crucially enabled the very instances of "self-fashioning" or of "theatricality" so beloved of current criticism—an education which privileged the dialectical and analysis and imitation of classical texts—is simply left out of the discussion. What we have as a result is a criticism of Shakespeare, Jonson and others that is incapable of accounting for the rhetorical and affective excess distinguishing this drama of the English Renaissance from its Continental antecedents; an excess which, in the case of Twelfth Night, permits interpretations as widely divergent as those of Greenblatt, Barber, and Jameson, and which therefore (because of its contribution to the historical "instability" of the play's "identity") surely begs to be interpreted as a thematic aspect of the play's concern with disguise, deception, and "theatricality."
For an example of how even good contemporary criticism effaces the rhetorical content of the play I want to turn to Valerie Traub's argument that the meaning of Viola/Cesario resides principally in the "dual erotic investment" that the play establishes in order to "elicit the similarly polymorphous desires of the audience, whose spectator pleasure would be at least partly derived from a transgressive glimpse of multiple erotic possibilities." In order to "substantiate the play's investment in erotic duality," she continues,
one can compare the language used in Viola/Cesario's two avowals of love: the first as Orsino's wooer of Olivia, and the second as s/he attempts to communicate love to Orsino. In both avowals, Viola/Cesario theatricalizes desire, using a similar language of conditionals toward both erotic objects . . . "If I did love you with my master's flame, / With such a suffr'ing, such a deadly life, / In your denial I would find no sense; / I would not understand it." ... "My father had a daughter love'd a man, / As it might be, perhaps, were I a woman, I should your lordship." (my italics)62
I would not for a moment deny the existence of the "dual erotic investment" which Traub does well to point out. However, another brief glance at Gl'Ingannati will show that Shakespeare's text is more remarkable for resisting than exploiting the considerable dramatic potential of any such investment.
Reading Gl'Ingannati, Shakespeare would have come across a model for a scene between Olivia and Viola/Cesario. The scene in question requires the audience to share the voyeuristic position of Flammineo's servants who stumble across Isabella and Lelia/Fabio during an intimate exchange of words and caresses. The audience, however, knows that "Fabio" is, for the purposes of the play, a woman (though the part was probably played by a boy).63 For the servants, then, the scene arouses sexual feeling and a sense of scandal at the betrayal of Flammineo by the "boy" whom he loved and trusted so much; the audience, however, freed from any sense of the latter, is invited to enjoy the transgression of the scene as if it were a kind of affluence; in Traub's words, it becomes "a transgressive glimpse of multiple erotic possibilities."
Isa. Sapete, vorrei. Lel. Che vorresti
Isa. Vorrei, accostatevi.
Sca Accostatevi saluticaccio [selvaticaccio] . . .
Isa. Udite, vi volete partire?
Sca. Baciala che ti venga il cancaro.
Cri. L'ha paura di non esser veduta . . .
Isa. Entrate un poco dentro all'uscio.
Sca. La cosa è fatta . . .
Crim. Oime, oime, o seccarecio altretanto a me.
Sca. Non ti diss' io che la bacciarebbe?
[Isa. Do you know what I'd like? Lel. What would you like?
Isa. I'd like you to come closer.
Sca. Get closer, you bumpkin.
Isa. Listen, do you want to go?
Sca. Kiss her, for Christ's sake.
Cri. She's afraid of being seen.
Isa. Come into the doorway a little.
Sca. The thing is done.
Cri. Alas, alas, I'm dry and thirsty—do it to me!
Sca. Didn't I tell you he'd kiss her?]64
Without denying the possibility of performing the equivalent scene between Olivia and Viola/Cesario in such a way as to maximize its erotic possibilities, I would want to argue that the rhetorical excess which distinguishes Shakespeare's text from the Italian model insists on a far higher level of engagement from the audience as auditors. This, in turn, reorients the dramatic meaning of the scene from pleasure in the spectacle of erotic possibility towards complicity in the act of interpretation by means of which a reader or auditor lends credibility to the figures, tropes, and fictions in the discourse of another.
Such audience complicity in the bestowal of credibility through interpretation replicates what the scene offers by way of a narrative of "desire." Olivia's desire for Viola/Cesario must become intelligible (unless we ignore the text altogether) through Viola/Cesario's progression away from formal literary models of courtship towards the affective intimacy of a more familiar mode of address, exemplified in the deservedly famous speech which begins, "Make me a willow cabin at your gate" (1.5.273). At this point we have already witnessed Olivia's unenchanted exposure of the economics of the Petrarchan argument, her parody of its facile and opportunistic movement from the praise of natural beauty to the imperatives of husbandry and reproduction: "O sir, I will not be so hard-hearted, I will give out divers schedules of my beauty" (1.5.247-48). Cesario's subsequent readiness to improvise a first-person fiction of abandonment in love represents an ability to extemporize, to seize "the gifts of moment" and so illustrate the crowning glory of classical rhetorical education.65
The speech's most obvious analogue in the schoolboy literature which prepared men for such improvisations is that of the impassioned epistolary rhetoric of the women of Ovid's Heroides, whose vivid evocations of their writing, and of the cries that echo through the wild and lonely places to which they are abandoned, resemble (in their simultaneous acknowledgment of hopelessness and its contradiction by the emotions aroused in the reader) the curious emotional power tapped by Cesario's entry into a hypothetical desolation of ineffectual texts that nevertheless defy the premise of their ineffectuality. Like Dido writing "without hope to move you," or Oenone, telling Paris how she made Ida resound with howls ("uluati") at his desertion, Viola/Cesario imagines filling the vacant times and spaces of rejection with "cantons of contemned love" and "halloos" of Olivia's name, suddenly evoking a geography of loneliness in a play otherwise suggestive of houses, estates, and urbanity.66 The implied femininity of Cesario's hypothetically assumed persona here, however, merely complicates the already problematic dramatic hypothesis of a female "Viola" inasmuch as the prominence of Ovid's Heroides within the education syllabus for boys implied, as Warren Boutcher has noted,
a relationship between the path to knowledge and . . . the mastery of the heroical genus familiare, with its base in epistolary stories which involve—both in the telling and in the action—intimate access to and power over feminine sensibility.67
The "femininity" of the genre, then, is inseparable from its implication in a plot of seduction not unlike that of Petrarchism, except that in this version "femininity" itself—understood as a peculiar susceptibility to artificially induced compassion—is the emotional catalyst of masculine rhetorical success.
Olivia's desire for Viola/Cesario becomes apparent as a response to this speech and is inseparable, in its articulation, from the material expression of belief ("credit") that would exempt the unknown stranger from providing the heraldic display (the "blazon") that would put "his" gentility beyond doubt:
"What is my parentage?"
"Above my fortunes, yet my state is well,
I am a gentleman." I'll be sworn thou art;
Thy tongue, thy face, thy limbs, actions and spirit
Do give thee five-fold blazon. Not too fast: soft! soft!
Unless the master were the man . . .
Olivia's desire motivates her affirmation of Cesario's somewhat evasive protestation of gentility on the grounds of "his" exceptional beauty, eloquence, and presence of mind. What this implies, then, is that the capacity to arouse desire resides less in the androgynous beauty of the body, than in the body conceived as the medium of elocutio ("tongue . . . face . . . limbs . . . actions . . . spirit"); that is, the apt delivery of the mind's invention. Viola/Cesario embodies the capacity of timely and well expressed speech to compel for a mere fiction credit, that is the kind of materially consequential belief (in this case, belief in matrimonial eligibility) that is rarely afforded to the "real thing."
The transgressive "glimpse" being offered to a seventeenth-century audience here, I would suggest, is less that of lesbian desire than that of the opportunity for social advancement and erotic gratification afforded by education for any servant of ability entrusted with missions of such intimate familiarity. That the entertainment of such a possibility is necessarily transgressive (though here held at bay from full recognition by the "femininity" of Viola) is evident from the care taken in the Malvolio plot to exploit the audience's revulsion at the very same idea. As a steward, Malvolio shares with Viola/Cesario the distinction of being a household servant whose "civility" of manner is qualification for a position of exceptional trust in the intimate affairs of the household. Olivia's musing, "unless the master were the man," touches the center of the play's concern with the question of social advancement by means of skills and attractions "blazoned" in the execution of service rather than properly inhering in nobility. How can such social advancement be imagined except as an individualistic pursuit of gain, a betrayal of trust, sexual honor, economic dependency, and love?
Leo Salingar and Emrys Jones have shown how comedies of the late 1590s and early 1600s are concerned with establishing the credentials of a notion of "gentility" that operates independently of the feudal structures of lineage and affinity. "The king might create a duke, but not even he could create a gentleman," writes Jones, echoing a sentiment expressed in plays of this period.68 Gentility thus conceived is less the effect of lineage than of a certain affluence—freedom from manual labor—combined with the type of liberal education that might contribute a civil demeanor in social exchange. The arguments of such comedies therefore require that the discursively and morally cumbersome aspects of the humanist education bequeathed by Erasmus and the grammar schools be adapted to requirements of a style and habitus such as Viola/Cesario exhibits: a non-pedantic conversational facility appropriate to the modest enterprises of urban social encounter.
Salingar sees the conflicts played out through this redefinition of humanistic "wit" in terms of an attempt to distinguish between money values and "the values of a leisure class" whose social and financial ambitions are subliminally expressed as the civilized pleasures of courtship. Jones notes in the early 1600s the "crystallisation of a new theatrical formula":
The plays in question are comedies, usually set in some fictitious vaguely foreign court, often with a double-plot of which one part may be romantic and the other more frankly comic. The comic action sometimes takes the form of a persecution, a "baiting" extended through several episodes.69
About the same time as the Chamberlain's men performed Twelfth Night, the children of the Chapel staged one of the plays to which Jones here refers, The Gentleman Usher.70 In the predicament of its eponymous antihero, Bassiolo, the play comments interestingly on Twelfth Night, condensing different aspects of the situations in which Viola/Cesario and Malvolio find themselves. Bassiolo is, like Malvolio, the most trusted servant in the household of Count Lasso, but, like Viola/Cesario, his being familiarly confided in and befriended by a nobleman for whom he undertakes to woo Margaret, Count Lasso's daughter, immediately puts him in a position of both actual and potential betrayal of trust: Vincentio accuses him of behaving, "as if the master were the man" in an erotic sense, but he has already done so in the sense that in his contract of friendship with Vincentio, he is wooing for himself.
Chapman's is, however, a far more conservative play than Shakespeare's. Whereas Viola/Cesario's inspired improvisation on the model of the Ovidian heroic epistle actually gains the sympathetic ear and the heart of Olivia, Bassiolo's verbose and cumbersome attempt at amorous epistles merely earns him the noble lovers' contempt, serving to prove that the adaptation of a liberal education to civilized wooing can only be managed by one whose gentleness of birth is beyond dispute. The play is nevertheless concerned to argue the necessity of complementing the hunting and riding skills traditionally definitive of nobility with "wits and paper learning"71 of a non-pedantic kind; the Duke's ennobling of his illiterate minion, Medice, proves disastrous, arguing against the social advancement of servants who are unable to acquit themselves plausibly in noble society. At the same time, however, the play finds, in Bassiolo's dilemma between fidelity to his master, and the opportunity offered by Vincendo's pretended confidence in his rhetorical ability, that any servant so accomplished and entrusted is liable to deceive.
The fantastic unlikelihood of the plot of Twelfth Night and its apparent preoccupation with issues of gender have distracted critical attention from the play's affinity with such contemporary comedies of civility and social advancement. Yet it might well be argued that the very fantasticality of the fiction of gender in Twelfth Night constitutes the play's strategy of engagement with contemporary debates on the legitimacy of the individualistic exploitation of service in order, in Viola's own words, to "make occasion mellow."72
Twelfth Night endorses the notion of rhetorical opportunism, or individual enterprise insofar as it expresses the mastery of fortune and of the occasions of civil life as the metaphorical equivalent of heroic enterprise on the high seas. Thus, for example, the rivalry between Viola and Aguecheek for the favor of Olivia is recurrently expressed in a nautical idiom. Viola is spoken of as having "trade" (3.1.76) and "commerce" (3.4.175) with Olivia, "she is the list of my voyage" says Viola (3.1.77). The hapless Aguecheek, for lack of Viola's witty invention and attractive presence, is berated for having "sailed into the north of my lady's opinion, where you will hang, like an icicle on a Dutchman's beard, unless you redeem it by some laudable attempt, either of valor or policy" (3.3.24-28). Fabian's reference here—to a 1598 translation of Gerrit de Veer's report of the ordeal of Dutch explorers trapped for ten months in Nova Zembla, where they "never saw, nor heard of any man"73—comically imagines Aguecheek's conversational failure both as a failure to prove his masculinity and as meriting exile altogether from the new medium of masculine self-assertion—the profitable commerce of sociability.
The sociability thus defined as heroically masculine, however, must be purposeful as well as facile; Orsino, as Feste says, is insufficiently discriminating in the object of his discourse: "I would have men of such constancy put to sea that their business might be everywhere and there intent nowhere, for that's it always makes a good voyage of nothing" (2.4.75-78). The pervasiveness of such oceanic metaphors, as well as references to maps and narratives of discovery (Malvolio's smiling face is likened to the 1599 map which displayed the new world "as revealed by actual voyages of discovery"74) invests the Renaissance synonymity of "tempest" and "fortune" with specifically economic resonances.75 From the analogy developed between drinking and the hazards of navigation (Feste tells Olivia that a drunken man is like a drowned man—1.5.132) there emerges a chiastic narrative of rhetorical oikonomia, in which the eloquent and beautiful twins exchange near-drowning for domestic security, while the drunken and inept or irresponsible Toby and Aguecheek—initially comfortable with cakes and ale in Olivia's buttery—are finally banished, like the "knaves and fools" they prove to be, to the "wind and the rain" of Feste's song, beyond Olivia's gates.
Oikonomia is rhetorical because linguistic ability is identified with the ability to manage wealth. Maria declares of the wealthy Aguecheek that he is incompetent with his resources, he will "have but a year to all those ducats. He's a very fool, and a prodigal" (1.3.22); this failure in husbandry is then discovered at intervals during the play as Aguecheek's recurrent inability to invent plausible arguments or "reasons" for his words or actions. Aguecheek's companions are always teasing him for the reasons he cannot give; "Pourquoi?" asks Toby when Aguecheek declares his intention to leave at once, but the question bewilders the knight (1.3.89). In a later exchange Fabian joins Toby in demanding evidence of plausibility: "You must needs yield your reason, Sir Andrew" (3.2.2). The letter which Toby urges him to make "eloquent and full of invention" (3.2.41-43) turns out to be as barren as his speech: "Wonder not. . . why I do call thee [a scurvy fellow] for I will show thee no reason for't" (3.4.152-53).76
When Anna Jameson praised Viola for the moral sensibility she displayed both in the propriety of her fidelity to Orsino, and in "her generous feeling for her rival Olivia," she appropriated for nineteenth-century feminism a seventeenth-century play's concern with calling into question the assumption that eloquent servants, accomplished in the provision of reasons, and entrusted with the intimate affairs of the household, are necessarily opportunists, people who deceive.77 The narrative rationale of the scene I have already remarked upon in Gl'Ingannati, in which Flammineo's servants spy upon Isabella and Lelia's kiss, is to enrage Flammineo against the deceitfulness of his favorite, Fabio; a hilarious scene ensures in which the probability of the kiss is itself called into doubt by the incompetence of the servants in relaying to Flammineo their evidence of Fabio's perfidy.78 The point here, however, is that Lelia/Fabio has kissed Isabella; one deceit leads to another, and Lelia finds herself explaining her refusal of further favors to Isabella on the grounds that "too much love" for Isabella has already led her to deceive ("ingannare") her lord.79 Earlier, however, Lelia/Fabio showed a singular lack of regard for Flammineo's suit, attempting by means of Pasquella to ensure that Isabella would never respond to his affections; Viola, as Jameson notes, is remarkable for resisting the temptation to do this. In Chapman's Gentleman Usher, Bassiolo, also in the position of a go-between or an ambassador between lovers, is tempted not only into exploitation of his position of trust, but into presumptions of equality and friendship with the nobleman who employs him, which the play then ridicules with all the fervor of profound social anxiety.
It becomes clear that the twinning of Sebastian and Viola, and the femininity of the latter, occurs in Shakespeare's play not simply (as in other derivatives of Terence's Eunuch) for the sake of resolving an erotic impasse by offering a means of gaining access to the cloistered woman, but for the sake of foregrounding an outrageously improbable hypothesis about the possibility of combining fidelity in service with rhetorical oikonomia—that is, the heroic exploitation of rhetorical opportunity, which typically achieves both economic security and erotic gratification. Terence Cave has noted that the final revelation of "Viola's" identity remains merely hypothetical, contingent on an accumulation of probabilities beyond the scope of the play: "Do not embrace me till each circumstance / Of place, time, fortune do cohere and jump / That I am Viola."80 It could be said that the femininity of Viola is the grounds upon which the fiction of the servant Cesario can prove the success of eloquence in the narrative of social advancement that Sebastian fulfills, while at the same time ensuring this narrative remains quite untainted by what would otherwise be its precondition—the betrayal of the master by his "man." Viola/Cesario, then, represents more than the "dual erotic investment" that exhausts the meaning of Lelia/Fabio, for s/he is the means by which a seventeenth-century audience could be seduced into entertaining unawares the possibility of a positive version of Malvolio, a servant able to exploit the civility that earns the trust and favor of noblewomen to the extent of achieving the "love" that promises contractual equality. When Fabian imagines himself condemning the cross-gartered Malvolio as an "improbable fiction" on the stage, he draws attention to the self-consciousness that marks the play's violation of the Terentian rhetoric of probability, which remains so near the textual surface of Gl'Ingannati. Any audience hearing Fabian, however, must feel that the primary violation of probability lies not in the outrageousness of Malvolio's behavior, but in the very existence of the person called Viola, who represents, as Terence Cave has written, "a particularly fruitful violation of the laws of rational discourse no less than sexual decorum," and whose name performs a number of associative tricks, as it "echoes the erotic flowers and music of the opening scene, insidiously rearranges the letters of Olivia's name, and comes close to naming violation itself."81
The play's erotic investment in Viola/Cesario is less, I would argue, than its investment in the violation of probability constituted by the twinship of Viola and Sebastian, which first casts the desire and emotion aroused by Cesario into extremity, and then resolves that extremity as a miraculous disproof of the betrayal of trust that would, in the ordinary circumstances of daily life, be its explanation. Thus, for example, where the sodomitic behavior of Fabrizio's traveling companion, the pedant in Gl'Ingannati, merely fuels the sexual comedy of that play,82 the love Antonio feels for Sebastian, while equally open to homoerotic interpretation, is not sidelined by mockery, but rendered able to share on equal terms in a dramatic climax which turns less on the nuptials that unite the two houses than on the proof that not one of the lovers of a beautiful "boy"—neither his wife, nor his master, nor his friend in need—is "therein, by my life, deceiv'd." The "hints of corruption and aggression," which, as Cave notes, recur in the play, accumulate around the common sense perception that the youthful beauty of a stranger is probably as deceitful as it is irresistibly attractive.83
Certainly Orsino, having charged his lovely ambassador with the ethically problematic obligation to make "discourse" of his "dear faith" and "act" his woes, reads the apparent consequence—Cesario's contract to Olivia—as presaging the youth's career in similar deceptions: "thou dissembling cub! What wilt thou be / When time hath sown a grizzle on thy case?" (5.1.162-63). The pathos of Olivia's case is more marked, as she interprets Viola/Cesario's love for Orsino as the "fear" rightfully aroused by the consciousness of having betrayed his master. In attempting to prevent Viola/Cesario's protestation of innocence, she exposes the instability of her own grounds for belief in the youth's continued fidelity to her. "Oh, do not swear!" she begs, "Hold little faith, though thou hast too much fear" (5.1.169-170). Most moving of all, however, is Antonio's apology for being obliged by love into an extremity that makes demands of the one he loves. "What will you do, now my necessity / Makes me to ask you for my purse?" he gently enquires (3.4.342-43), only to be moved by Viola/Cesario's nonrecognition, into an outburst against the deceptiveness of the "promise" that was the boy's manner and looks (3.4.369-79).
A contemporary reader, perusing a popular anthology of the period known as The Paradyse of daynty deuises, found one poem entitled thus: "Who mindes to bring his ship to happy shore / Must care to know the lawes of wisdomes lore." By this poem he wrote, "rules of wary life," bracketing off for particular annotation a verse referring to trust in friendship. Do not bestow credit on boys, the verse advised, for, "Ful soone the boy thy freendship will despyse / And him for loue thou shalt ungrateful find."84 As Erica Sheen has pointed out, the protracted denouement of Cymbeline features a "boy" called Imogen who refuses to plead for the life of her savior and friend, Lucentio. His moralizing comment, "briefly die their joys / that place them on the truth of girls and boys" does nothing to assuage the audience's impatient desire to resolve his mistake, proving the "truth" that probability and versified common sense would deny.85 Just so here, in Twelfth Night, Antonio's sententious conclusions on beauty and deceit merely fuel the audience's desire to relieve him of the pain of believing he has loved a "most ingrateful boy" (5.1.75). In view of this, Greenblatt's observation that, at the end of the play, "Viola is still Cesario," seems not so much to argue for any specific beliefs about instability of gender, as to be a part of that complex affective structure by means of which a boy proves, most improbably, to be "true" to all the kinds of lovers he might have—right up until the end of the play.
What, then, of the play's place in a history of sex and gender? The least that should be said is that any attempt to de-essentialize and historicize gender by appealing to a Galenic theory of men and women differentiated only by degrees of body heat is of strictly limited value in the analysis of a complicated tradition of comic writing in which what distinguishes men is their privileged access to allusive and intertextual levels of meaning—in other words, their access to active participation in the historical and discursive process of defining the social roles and characteristics of either sex. But something rather more positive may be said about Twelfth Night in particular. For here once again Shakespeare has chastened the argument of a neo-Terentian play in such a way as to maximize the interpretative possibilities, and consequently the historical tenacity, of the English dramatic text.
That the meaning of the Viola/Olivia courtship for a seventeenth-century audience resided at least partly in its capacity to seduce them into condoning the social (rather than sexual) transgression elsewhere reviled by the play's mockery of Malvolio is suggested by the history of critical reaction to Shakespeare's conception of Viola. The probability of Lelia's dressing up as Fabio is established in Gl'Ingannati in an exchange with her nurse during which she admits that since being kept prisoner by soldiers, she has become sexually suspect irrespective of her conduct: ever since the sack of Rome, she says, "ne credevo poter vivere sì honestamente, che bastasse a far che la gente non havesse che dire" [I didn't see how I could live honestly enough to stop them gossiping].86 In 1753 Charlotte Lennox, writing a criticism of Shakespeare, objected to the want of any similar argument of probability in relation to Viola's decision to dress as a man:
A very natural scheme, this for a beautiful and virtuous young Lady, to throw off all the modesty and Reservedness of her Sex, mix among men, herself disguised as one; and prest by no Necessity; influenced by no Passion, expose herself to all the dangerous consequences of so unworthy and shameful a Situation.
The Italian source, she notes, "is much more careful to preserve Probability" than "the Poet Shakespeare."87
However, by 1832 the very want of any "probable" argument for Viola's behavior (since any such would reflect upon Viola's modesty) enabled Anna Jameson to celebrate her femininity as the source of the peculiar integrity which characterizes her relations to both master and mistress.88 The very improbability of Viola, then, serves to break down the identification of rhetorical virtuosity (the capacity to make things probable) with the sexual conquest of women that marks the plot of the Italian play. The literal intertwining of the names of Malvolio, Olivia, and Viola has often been pointed out, but it many not be entirely fanciful to recall that the identification of "inganni" (deceptions, probable arguments) with the sexual deception that makes Isabella unchaste is signaled in the prologue of Gl'Ingannati with following innuendo:
Ma e ci son de gli ingannati tra gli altri d'una certa sorte, che volesse Iddio, per il mal ch'io vi voglio, che voi foste ingannate spesso cosi voi, et io fusse l'ingannatore.
[But there is among these deceptions one particular sort which makes me wish, for the malice I bear you, that you might be often deceived, if I were the deceiver.]89
Here "il mal ch'io vi voglio" is a kind of flirtatious joke on the euphemism for fancying someone, "ti voglio bene." In entertaining ambitious fantasies which suddenly and indecorously make the audience aware that these are also sexual fantasies about Olivia (2.5.47-48), Shakespeare's Malvolio bears the trace of the erotic "mal . . . voglio" by which Fabrizio's economic success is identified as a sexual conquest and extended through innuendo to characterize the terms upon which a female audience may be imagined capable of enjoying the argument of the play.
What was positive for seventeenth-century women about the way in which Twelfth Night addressed them, then, was due less to the "high cultural investment in female erotic pleasure . . . because it was thought necessary for conception to occur" than to its opposite:90 the extent to which, by refusing to subject Olivia to the "mal. . . voglio" of an explicitly sexual encounter with Sebastian on the model of Isabella's with Fabrizio, Shakespeare manages to portray a heroine whose prudence, good judgment, and ability to govern others remain uncompromised even by her contract with the beautiful youth. For in marrying Sebastian, Olivia has arguably yielded to no whim, but carried out the strategic plan first made known to us by Sir Toby Belch: "she'll not match above her degree, neither in estate, years, nor wit" (1.3.106-108). Olivia never wavers from this purpose, and in providing the precedent that it elsewhere pretends to deny—marriage between a noble-woman and one beneath her—the play endorses the real-life example of the highly intelligent Katherine Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk, who, after having been married at fourteen to her forty-nine-year-old noble guardian, later decided to marry none other then her gentleman usher, who was "an accomplished gentleman, well versed in the study of the languages . . . bold in discourse, quick in repartee." There were, as Katherine Brandon's biographer commented, "many reasons why the clever and serviceable gentleman usher who conducted her business . . . should seem to the Duchess a more desirable husband than an ambitious noble."91 Shakespeare's play, around 1602, contributed to the undoing of the social and sexual stereotyping that would make of that last statement nothing but a dirty joke.
1 Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, The Scornful Lady, The Dramatic Works in the Beaumont and Fletcher Canon, ed. Fredson Bowers (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1970), 2:I.i.82-86. This paper was first written for a seminar led by Alison Brown at the Institute of Historical Research; see Alison Brown, "Renaissance Bodies: A New Seminar on the Renaissance," Bulletin for the Society of Renaissance Studies 12 (1994): 20-22. I would like to thank Pamela Benson, Alan Bray, Terence Cave, Helen Hackett, David Norbrook, Diane Purkiss, and Erica Sheen for their helpful criticisms and comments.
2 Stephen Greenblatt, "Fiction and Friction," Shakespearean Negotiations (Oxford: Clarendon, 1988), 86, quoted by Valerie Traub, Desire and Anxiety: Circulations of Sexuality in Shakespearean Drama (London: Routledge, 1992), 119.
3 I should acknowledge here my gratitude to Gayle Kern Paster, who, on reading a version of this paper, pointed out that my concern here is more with textual criticism's historicizing of erotic desire rather than with body history per se.
4 For example, see C. L. Barber's still very interesting Shakespeare's Festive Comedy (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1959).
5 See Lisa Jardine, Still Harping on Daughters (London: Harvester, 1983), 9-36.
6 Catherine Belsey, "Disrupting sexual difference: meaning and gender in the comedies," Alternative Shakespeares, ed. John Drakkakis (London: Methuen, 1985), 180. For another poststructuralist challenge to traditional readings of the comedies, see Malcolm Evans, "Deconstructing Shakespeare's Comedies" in the same volume.
7 Thomas Laqueur, "Orgasm, Generation and the Politics of Reproductive Biology," Representations 14 (1986), 3.
8 See Stephen Greenblatt, "Fiction and Friction," Reconstructing Individualism, ed. Thomas C. Heller, Morton Sosna, and David E. Wellberry (California: Stanford UP, 1986), 30-52.
9 Greenblatt 80; Laqueur 4-5.
10 Greenblatt 74-75, 79, 85, 181; Laqueur 12-16.
11 Greenblatt 81; Laqueur 13.
12 Greenblatt, 88.
13 Greenblatt, 87.
14 William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, ed. J. M. Lothian and T. W. Craik (London: Methuen, 1975), 5.1.257-61. Further references to this edition will appear in the text.
15 Greenblatt, 72.
16 Greenblatt, 82.
17 Thomas Laqueur, Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP), 114.
18 Laqueur, 115.
19 Stephen Orgel, "Nobody's Perfect: Or Why Did the English Stage Take Boys for Women?" South Atalantic Quarterly 88.1 (1989), 13.
20 The examples Montaigne cites are those of Iphis, from Ovid, Metamorphoses IX, 793ff, and of Lucius Constitius, from Pliny, Naturalis Historia VII, iv. See Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays, trans. M. A. Screech (London: Penguin, 1991), 110. In his chapter of "histoires memorables de certains femmes qui sont degenerees en hommes," Ambroise Paré, Des Monstres et Prodiges, ed. Jean Céard (Geneva: Libraire Droz, 1971), includes the same example from Pliny, the story of Marie Germaine, and the example of Maria Pateca, told by João Rodrigues in Amati Lusitani Medici Physici Praestantissimi, Curationum medicinalium centuriae quatuor (Froben: Basel, 1567), 168. Needless to say, Rodrigues also cites Pliny, confirming a certain sense of circularity and repetition in the gathering of such instances. One might want to argue for a belief in the frequency of the phenomenon from Montaigne's comment, "Ce n'est pas tant de merveille que cette sort d'accident se rencontre fréquent" [It isn't surprising that this sort of accident occurs frequently]. However, as Montaigne attributes the "accident" in question to the power of the imagination, which elsewhere in the same essay becomes responsible for unfounded beliefs in the magic that causes impotence, it is not clear how sceptically he means this. In any case, Montaigne's version of Marie-Germaine's accident does not conform to Paré's analysis, since Montaigne attributes to the power of the imagination the capacity to satisfy itself a sexual longing by producing the desired genitals of the (opposite?) sex—"si l'imagination peut en telles choses, elle est si continuellement et si vigoureusement attaché à ce sujet, que, pour n'avoir si souvent à rechoir en même pensée et âpreté de désir, elle a meilleur compte d'incorporer une fois pour toutes cette virile partie aux filles." This would seem to argue that girls did not already possess "cette virile partie." See Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Oeuvres Complètes, ed. R. Barrai (Paris: du Seuil, 1967), 54. An excellent article by Patricia Parker, which came to my notice after I had written this article, criticizes both the functioning of medical discourse and the teleology of masculinity as a "reassuringly stable ground" in the arguments of Laqueur and Greenblatt and points to the preoccupation of Montaigne's essay with the anxiety that masculinity itself requires supplementation, to repair the "defect in sex" which is impotence. See Patricia Parker, "Gender Ideology, Gender Change: The Case of Marie Germaine," Critical Inquiry 19 (Winter, 1993), 335-64.
21 Judith C. Bown, Immodest Acts: the Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1986), 12, 169.
22 Traub, 51. This seems unlikely, since Paré explicitly says that the mutation can only go one way: "nous ne trouvons jamais en histoire veritable que d'homme aucun soit devenu femme, pour-ce que Nature tend tousjours à ce qui est le plus parfaict, et non au contraire faire ce qui est parfaict devienne imparfaict" [we never find in any true history that any man whatsoever became a woman, because Nature always tends towards that which is the most perfect, and does not on the contrary make what is perfect become imperfect].
23 Orgel, 10.
24 Traub, 103, 117, 141.
25 Thus, Traub, in her concern to refute or modify Orgel's argument that the transvestite theatre was at least in part motivated by a recognition of the value represented by female chastity, misleadingly represents the argument as being about "the fantasized dangers posed by women" (121), which obscures beyond recovery the notion that women's chastity was valuable because it affected male honor and, therefore, economic power. The latter argument has been well made in relation to "desire" in the ancient world by John Winkler, The Constraints of Desire: The Anthropology of Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece (London: Routledge, 1990), 74-75.
26 Greenblatt, 88.
27 The idea that women in the audience fell in love with the players seems to have been common enough; see Beaumont and Fletcher 1.1.46-48, of a waiting maid: "She lov'd all the Players in the last Queenes time once over: she was strook when they acted lovers, and forsook some when they plaid murtherers." Women's susceptibility to the fiction, then, seems to have been laughed at, whereas the ridicule of men turns on the degree of aptitude or otherwise with which they make use of the wit they have heard at plays.
28 James Shirley, "To the Reader," Comedies and Tragedies Never Printed before and now published by the Authours Orginall Copies, Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher (London: Humphrey Moseley, 1647), sig. A3r.
29 T. W. Baldwin, Shakespeare's Five Act Structure (Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1947); Marvin T. Herrick, Comic Theory in the Renaissance (Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1950); Georgia S. Nugent, Ancient Theories of Comedy: The Treatises of Evanthius and Donatus, Shakespearean Comedy, ed. Maurice Charney (New York: Literary Forum, 1980); Emrys Jones has pointed out how easily Shakespeare's accessibility becomes an argument for his comparative lack of learning, The Origins of Shakespeare (Oxford: Clarendon, 1977), 2-4. In this part of my argument, I draw on evidence represented more fully in my book, The Usurer's Daughter, (London: Routledge, 1994) chs. 5 and 6.
30 William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew, ed. Brian Morris (London: Methuen, 1981) Induction, line 140.
31 For Donatus and Melanchthon see note 29, and Joel Altman, The Tudor Play of Mind (Berkeley: U of California P, 1978).
32 Lyndal Roper, The Holy Household (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1989), 112.
33 "E vi confessa in questo Ã Autore avere e Plauto e Terenzio seguitato, . . . non solo ne li costumi, ma ne li argumenti ancora de le fabule vuole essere de li antiche . . . imitatore" [And the Author confesses that in this he has followed Plautus and Terence .. . because he wants to be an imitator of the ancients not just in their customs, but in their arguments and plots]: Tutte le Opere di Ludovico Ariosto, ed. Cesare Segre (Milan: Mondadori, 1974), 197.
34 See Marvin T. Herrick, Tragicomedy, Its Origins and Development in Italy and France (Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1962), 17-46; John Palsgrave, The Comedy of Acolastus translated in oure englysshe tongue after such maner as children are taught in grammar schoole, ed. P. L. Carver (London: EETS, 1937); M. Christopherus Stummelius, Studentes, comoedia de vita studiosorum (Frankfurt: 1550).
35 Laura Levine, Men in Women's Clothing: Antitheatricality and Effeminization, 1579-1642 (Cambridge UP, 1994), 2; Jean E. Howard, The Stage and Social Struggle in Early Modern England (London: Routledge, 1994), 40.
36 Stephen Gosson, Playes Confuted in Five Actions (London: T. Gosson, n.d.) sigs. C6r-7r. Gosson's example of the schoolmaster is taken from Xenophon, Cyropaedia I.6.26-39. The example is used to caution against fraud in civil life but to justify fraud in hunting and war, an argument Machiavelli refers to in Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio, Il Principe e altre opere Politiche, ed. D. Cantimori (Milan, 1976) HI. 39, 455-56.
37 George Gascoigne, The Complete Works, 2 vols., ed. John W. Cunliffe (Cambridge UP, 1910) IL 6.
38 George Whetstone, The Right Excellent and Famous History of Promos and Cassandra: Devided into Two Commical Discourses, Shakespeare's Narrative and Dramatic Sources, ed. Geoffrey Bullough (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1968), 2: 443.
39 Gascoigne's Supposes as The Taming of the Shrew and Whetstone's Promos and Cassandra as Measure for Measure.
40 Anna Jameson, Shakespeare's Heroines: Characteristics of Women, Moral, Poetical and Historical (London: George Newnes Hd., 1897), 130. The first edition was published in 1832; see Clara Thomas, Love and Work Enough: The Life of Anna Jameson (London: Macdonald, 1967).
41 See Shakespeare, Twelfth Night xxvi-liii.
42 See Guido Bonino, "Introduzione: Il teatro a Siena tra Rozzi e Intronati," Il Teatro Italiano, 6 vols. (Milan: Einaudi, 1977), II. xxxvi-xliii, 87.
43Les Abusez, comedie faite à la mode des anciens comiques . . . traduit en Françoys par Charles Estienne (Paris: Estienne Grouleau, 1549), sig. A4v. On the supremacy of Ariosto, and for Machiavelli's estimation of him, see Aulo Greco, L'Istituzione del teatro comico al rinascimento (Naples: Liguri, 1976), 10 and Machiavelli, Discorso o dialogo intorno alla nostra lingua in Tutte le Opere di Machaivelli a cura di F. Flora e di C. Cordie (Milano, 1950) IL 816.
44Delle Comedie Elette Novamente raccolte insieme, con le correttioni, & annotationi di Girolamo Ruscelli (Venetia, 1554), 164. Unfortunately, there are few annotations after Bibiena and Machiavelli, and there is nothing interesting on Gl'Ingannati.
45 See Terence, The Eunuch, Terence, 2 vols., trans. J. Sergeant (London: Heinemann, 1912). Ariosto explicitly derives his seduction plot from The Eunuch (Opere, IV. 197), but mitigates its scandalous effect by crossing it with Plautus' highminded Captivi. Shakespeare in The Taming of the Shrew makes several references to The Eunuch, which assimilate it to the humanist debate about the ethics of teaching schoolboys the classics, and to the anti-theatre argument that theatre works like pornography, to arouse men to commit sexual crimes. For the centrality of The Eunuch to sixteenth-century debates about art and pornography, see Carlo Ginzburg, "Titian, Ovid and Erotic Illustration," Myths, Emblems, Clues, trans. John and Anne Tedeschi (London: Hutchinson, 1986), 77-95.
46 1.3.56; "Thou shalt present me as an eunuch to him"; compare Terence, "Chaerea. o fortunatem istum eunuchum qui quidem inhanc detur domum! . . . Parmeno. pro illo te deducam" [Chaerea. o what a lucky eunuch to be made a present for that house! . . . Parmeno. I could take you instead], The Eunuch, in Terence, II. 270-71.
47Il Sacrificio, Gl'ingannati, Comedia degli Intronati celebrato nei Giuochi d'un Carnovale di Siena (Venetia: Altobello Salicero, 1569) 1.1, fol. 18v. There is a translation of this play by Geoffrey Bullough in Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare (London: Routledge, 1958), 2: 286-339, but it omits or censors a fair amount.
48 On this topic in relation to Twelfth Night, see Lisa Jardine, "Twins and Travesties: gender, dependency and sexual availability," Erotic Politics: Desire on the Renaissance Stage, ed. Susan Zimmerman (London: Routledge, 1992), 27-38.
49"Clem. Dimmi un poco, & dove dormi tu? / Lelia. In una sua anticamera sola. / Clem. Se una notte tentato dalla maladetta tentatione ti chiamasse che tu dormisse con lui, come andrebbe? / Lelia. Io non voglio pensare al male prima che venga" 1.3, fol. 26r.
50Gl'Ingannati, 2.2, fols. 32v-33r.
51 This isn't quite accurate as a rendering of "s'era maschio o femina," but any other way would announce the gender of Isabella's partner too soon by assigning a pronoun.
52Gl'Ingannati, 4.4, fol. 58v. This is one of the passages that Bullough omits in his translation.
53Gl'Ingannati, 4.8, fol. 62v.
54Gl'Ingannati, 4.8, fol. 62v.
55 Estienne, Les Abusez, sig. A3r.
56Gl'Ingannati, "Prologo," fol. 15r.
57 See Laqueur, Making Sex, 194-205 and Barbara Taylor, Eve and the New Jerusalem (Virago, 1983), 28. Laqueur and Taylor both refer to the use made by feminists like Jameson of texts such as John Millar's The Origin of the Distinction of Ranks (Basel, 1793), which suggested that position of women in any society might be taken as a measurement of its civility and well being. Millar's influence is certainly traceable in Anna Jameson's Sketches in Canada, or Rambles among the Red Men (London: Longman, 1852), and is compatible with the project of The Characteristics of Women as outlined in the introductory dialogue, 20-31.
58 Greenblatt, Fiction and Friction, 75.
59 For an account of how this happens in The Comedy of Errors and The Taming of the Shrew, see "Why do Shakespeare's women have 'characters'?" The Usurer's Daughter, 178-213.
60 Levine, Men in Women's Clothing, 11; see also Howard, Stage and Social Struggle, 35. Both Levine and Howard reduce the meaning of "theatricality" to the subversions, sexual and social, effected by the assumption of disguise, as if clothes themselves made the theatrical fiction credible and powerful.
61 Levine, Men in Women's Clothes, 8.
62 Traub, Desire and Anxiety, 131.
63 None of the authorities on sixteenth-century Italian drama that I consulted [Mario Baratto, La Commedia del Cinquecento (Venice, 1975); Nino Borsellino, Rozzi e Intronati (Rome, 1974); Aulo Greceo, L'Istituzione del teatro comico nel rinascimento (Naples, 1976); Marvin Herrick, Italian Comedy in the Renaissance (Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1960); Louise Clubb, Italian Drama in Shakespeare's Time (New Haven: Yale UP, 1989)] could inform me on this question of staging. However, Pamela Benson very kindly consulted the current expert on Italian theatrical production, Richard Andrews, whose reply suggested that although plays in convents had all female casts, courtesans were famous for improvising scenes in their salons, and there is some evidence that women did play at court and in some touring companies, they were unlikely to have taken parts in a play put on by a learned academy, such as the Intronati di Siena. I would like to thank Pamela Benson and Richrd Andrews for this information.
64Gl'Ingannati, 2:6, fol. 37v.
65 See Terence Cave, The Cornucopian Text (Oxford: Clarendon, 1979), 127.
66 See Ovid, Heroides and Amores, trans. Grant Showerman (London: Heineman, 1977), 62-63, 82-83. Twelfth Night is implicitly urban, by virtue of the stress placed throughout on "civility"; Olivia, for example, berates Toby as an "ungracious wretch, / Fit for the mountains and barbarous caves, / Where manners were ne'er preach'd" before begging Sebastian to forgive the "uncivil" injury he has sustained at the hands of her kinsman. Twelfth Night Iv.i.46-52.
67 Warren Boutcher, "Catching the Court Ear in Sixteenth Century Europe," The Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Humanism, ed. Jill Kraye (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995). For the centrality of Ovid's Heroides to the sixteenth-century grammar school syllabus, especially as practice in letter writing, see T. W. Baldwin, William Shakespere's Small Latine and Lesse Greeke, 2 vols. (Urbana, 1944), 1: 119, 148, 157; 2:239. See also Erasmus, "De Conscribendi Epistolis," The Collected Works of Erasmus, ed. J. K. Sowards (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1985), 25: 22-25.
68 Emrys Jones, "The First West End Comedy," Proceedings of the British Academy, LXVIII (1982), 215-58, 232.
69 Jones, "The First West End Comedy" 233. See also Leo Salingar, "Wit in Jacobean Comedy," Dramatic Form in Shakespeare and the Elizabethans (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1986), 150.
70 The date of Twelfth Night is established by Manningham's Diary as being before February 1602; see Twelfth Night xxvi. Chapman's The Gentleman Usher was printed in 1606, and the date of first performance is conjectured to be between 1601 and 1604. See "Textual Introduction," The Gentleman Usher, ed. Robert Ornstein, The Plays of George Chapman: The Comedies, ed. Allan Holaday (Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1970), 131.
71 Chapman, The Gentleman Usher, 2.1.58.
72 Charlotte Lennox complains of the improbability of Shakspeare's plots in Shakespear Illustrated . . . by the author of the Female Quixote (London: 1753), 244. That Lennox's response was still commonplace in the nineteenth criticism is suggested by Jameson's comment, "The situation and character of Viola have been censured for their want of consistency and probability," Shakespeare's Heroines 130.
73 Gerrit de Veer, The True and Perfect Description of Three Voyages by the Ships of Holland and Zeland  (Amsterdam: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, 1970), sig. A2r. The account was entered on the Stationers' Register in 1598; see Twelfth Night xxxii.
74 Helen Wallis, "Edward Wright and the 1599 world map," The Hakluyt Handbook, ed. D. B. Quinn (London: Hakluyt Society, 1974), 73.
75 See Jones, The Origins of Shakespeare, 209-10.
76 Chapman, in The Gentleman Usher, also assumes a relationship between rhetorical skill, household management, and the favour of noblewomen: "You are not knowne to speak well? You haue wonne direction of the Earl and all his house, / The fauour of his daughter, and all Dames / That euer I sawe, come within your sight," Vincentio flatters the steward (3.2.167-70).
77 Jameson, Shakespeare's Heroines, 33.
78Gl'Ingannati, 2:8, fol. 40v.
79Gl'Ingannati, 2:8, fol. 38r
80 Terence Cave, Recognitions: A Study in Poetics (Oxford: Clarendon, 1988), 279.
81 Cave, 280.
82Gl'Ingannati, fol. 53 , Stragualcia, the pedant's servant, rails, "che voi sete . . . un sodomito, un tristo, posso dire" [I could say you were a sodomite, a miserable specimen].
83 Cave, Recognitions, 280.
84 Richard Edwardes, The Paradyse of daynty deuises (London: Henry Disle, 1578) Bodleian Library Press-mark: Wood 482 (6), fols. 5r-6v.
85Cymbeline, ed. J. M. Nosworthy (London: Methuen, 1969) 5.5.106-108. I would like to thank Erica Sheen for pointing out the similarity of this affective moment to that in Twelfth Night.
86Gl'Ingannati, I.ii., fol. 23v.
87 Charlotte Lennox, Shakespear Illustrated . . . by the author of the Female Quixote (London: 1753), 244.
88 See above, note 72; Jameson observes that "The situation and character of Viola have been censured for their want... of probability," Shakespeare's Heroines, 130.
89Gl'Ingannati, "Prologo," fol. 15r.
90 Traub, Desire and Anxiety, 141.
91 Lady Cecilie Goff, A Woman of the Tudor Age (London: John Murray, 1930), 213.
Source: "On Not Being Deceived: Rhetoric and the Body in Twelfth Night," in Texas Studies in Literature and Language, Vol. 38, No. 2, Summer, 1996, pp. 140-74.