We bet you didn't realize Shakespeare was such a rebel. Seriously. If he were around today, he'd be riding a motorcycle, TIVOing Sons of Anarchy, and getting a tattoo that reads "Down with the Man." That's actually a shame, because we really thought Shakespeare was the man.
|Author||Shakespeare - William Shakespeare|
|Themes||Art and Culture|
Foolishness and Folly
Language and Communication
Lies and Deceit
Rules and Order
Society and Class
Or do his portraits just have some killer Photoshopping?
Let’s review Shakespeare’s rule-breaking antics.
Rule number one:
You must dress according to your gender and class.
Right off the bat, Shakespeare blatantly disregards this with some cross-dressing, disguising
Viola as Cesario.
And to make it even more gender-bending, In Shakespeare’s day Cesario would have
been a male actor playing a woman playing a man.
Not to mention the stodgy Puritan Malvolio dressing in yellow stockings. Which is never
okay. Unless you’re Big Bird. Rule number two:
Women must obey.
Well, we already know Viola is a rule-breaker. She dresses as a man right to the end of the
Although Shakespeare does explain: there are no spare dresses in Illyria. Anywhere.
And how about Olivia? If she were a good woman, she would not deny Duke Orsino marrying her.
Rule number three:
You must not move classes.
No, this doesn’t mean skipping gym for art class.
It means that it is way out of line for Olivia’s servant Malvolio and the penniless
Sir Andrew Aguecheek to both try to marry the wealthy Olivia.
Rule number four:
You must be a heterosexual.
Well, Olivia loves Viola.
Orsino loves Cesario, who is really Viola dressed as a man. Still.
And Antonio’s love for Sebastian seems a little more than friendly. But hey, what happens
at sea stays at sea.
Yes, Shakespeare tosses around some pretty racy notions for 1602.
Well, there you have it. Four rules, all broken.
But of course, he does restore order to the court in the end, leaving us with class and
gender appropriate couples, at least according to the rules of the time.
Because who could survive in a world with strong women, upward mobility, or, heaven
forbid, no dress code?