Gender Roles and Sexism in Twelfth Night
Twelfth Night is written in the era where the roles of men and women are severely detached. This is clearly demonstrated through the actions and thoughts of the characters in this play. Sexism, which is related to gender roles, is evident throughout the course of this play and is conveyed in various aspects. A form of gender roles is expressed at the very beginning of the book by Viola. Viola had initially wanted to work in Olivia's court as herself, but the prospect was defeated and so she had to disguise herself as a man to work in Duke Orsino’s estate. “Conceal me what I am, and be my aid. For such disguise as haply shall become. The form of my intent. I’ll serve this Duke“(1.2.53-55). This portion of this play demonstrates that men and women could only work for their respective genders and exemplifies that gender roles play a major role within this book as well as the era this play was written in. Secondly, a point that is exhibited in this play is the image that men need to appear tough and powerful in front of women who are depicted as the weak ones. “An ’t be any way, it must be with valor” (3.2.28)... “Challenge me the count’s youth to fight with him. Hurt him in eleven places. My niece shall take note of it, and assure thyself, there is no love-broker in the world can more prevail in man’s commendation with woman than report of valor” (3.2.30-35). Through this and many other examples, it is shown that men are supposed to the strong ones, the ones that have to fight, and show valour. This is an example of gender roles within this play. Lastly, a form of sexism is expressed through the Duke to Viola about the way women feel about love.
“They lack retention.
Alas, their love may be called appetite,
No motion of the liver, but the palate,
That suffer surfeit, cloyment, and revolt;
But mine is all as hungry as the sea,
And can digest as much. Make no compare
Between that love a woman can bear me
And that I...