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lundi 20 octobre 2014 / Catégories: Langues, Anglais

The erotics of gender ambiguity in Shakespear's plays

Eliane Mergen

Cross‐dressing is central to the erotic dynamic of Renaissance drama. One “rotic delight”certainly evoked by the cross‐dressing prevalent in Shakespeare’ plays is the strong undertone of homoeroticism. Therefore, the second chapter will analyse how the deft and subtle explorations of homoeroticism in Shakespeare and some of his contemporaries’plays questioned and disrupted the heterosexual mores of the time. Going beyond the homoerotic implications, the third chapter will look more closely into that particular theatrical convention of the time: cross‐dressing. It will strive to gauge the fuller implications of transvestism in Shakespeare as a theatrical sign within a subtler project of disrupting the logic of the patriarchal discourse of sexuality.

The fourth chapter will take that analysis further and aims to re‐examine how these theatrical manipulations carried out within Shakespeare’ plays were spurred and defined by an irrational and elementary component which underlay much of Renaissance culture: the fear of female sexuality.

Through the deft use of theatrical devices, the Shakespearean stage represented eroticism, gender and their interplay in ways quite subversive to the official representations in the hegemonic discourses. It is this disruptive power of art embodied in Shakespeare’ plays that renders them relevant even today. The fifth and final chapter will examine how, through the subtle plays of erotic ambiguity, the Shakespearean theatre has provided provocative sites for ideological change around sexuality even in postmodern times. This paper, then, is a study of diversity and multiplicity; there is an astonishing amount of information found in Shakespeare and some of his contemporaries’plays that challenge popular conceptions of gender. There is no single, fixed way to read their texts, so any academic looking to explore gender must open his or her mind to see the often contradictory aspects that emerge from the many works available for analysis. In this study, I aim to explore different texts in order to discover the ways in which Shakespeare made use of erotic dynamics to challenge the very basics of gender.

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