Among the elements of comedy that ultimately are placed under uncomfortable strain in the eyes of the audience, the bed trick in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure is an particularly palpable one. Although an element of romantic comedy, the bed trick has long represented a problem of both morality and realism in its usage.
In a play about a war between Trojans and Greeks, a word in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida seems a bit out of place: the Italian word capocchia. The notes in the text of The Complete Pelican Shakespeare edition of the play merely translate it to mean “simpleton” (508). However, Gretchen Minton and Paul B. Harvey Jr. suggest that it may have a more raunchy meaning that better fits with the character of Pandarus (who utters the word) and the word play so beloved by Shakespeare. Continue reading
The re-arrangement of gender roles in Shakespeare’s As You Like It speaks to the clear differences between gender and sexuality normativity. With regards to gender, the play utilizes a clear binary- male or female. There are two genders, and gender is not a social construct of Shakespeare’s time, rather directly linked to an individual’s sex. The spectrum of sexuality in the play however, is more fluid and not, like gender, boxed into a binary. While the couples in the play will end as heterosexual pairs, the play allows for differences from the so-called norm with different characters expressing their sexuality.
Bassanio’s sexuality can be examined and scrutinized despite his seemingly heteronormative actions and intentions. The homoerotic undertone of Antonio and Bassanio’s relationship is easily discussed by analyzing the dedication and declarations of love by Antonio because he does not have a heterosexual romantic relationship to counteract against his love for Bassanio. Bassanio’s commitment to Portia, however, does not dictate his sexuality or establish his heterosexuality. Remembering that Bassanio’s relationships take place during a time when homosexuality is a sin and a punishable crime, the audience can translate Bassanio’s actions as the actions of one who is assumed heterosexual by societal default. His attraction to Portia is not being dismissed just because he is not heterosexual. Instead, modern audiences can discuss the idea of bisexuality or a fluid sexuality. Continue reading
Cory James Krueckeberg and Tom Gustafson’s musical adaptation of Shakespearean classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream utilizes the literary magic of Shakespeare to incorporate pressing and important present day issues regarding homophobia and toleration. Were The World Mine addresses the tale of Timothy (Tanner Cohen), a persecuted gay student at an all-boys private school outside of Chicago, and his fantastical forays into a dream world of songs, dance, and lustful mayhem. An anthem for acceptance and toleration, Were the World Mine incorporates traditional Elizabethan play elements, text, and costumes in the present world of an all male, testosterone-driven play setting. Continue reading
In Shakespeare’s play, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, he plays with and examines multiple different forms of ‘normal’ heterosexual relationships. The ‘mischievous-ness’ aspect, so celebrated of the work, places different male and female characters together under a love juice. Characters continue to change the objects of their desires throughout the play, under the guise of the juice, forcing the viewer to accept different partners, thus allowing for the possibility of homoeroticism. The rigid gender hierarchy present in Shakespeare’s time and play leads to a sexual hierarchy as well. Same sex relations were not permitted, yet the play does have moments of ambiguity.