My first paper’s conclusion


As I have said in the introduction to this paper, I have chosen Rosalind from As You Like It because through her behaviour takes place a deconstruction of patriarchy and gender roles established in Shakespeare’s time; although it is only in the magic space of the greenwood and through the cross-dressing’s technique.

Reading Shakespeare, I have realized what Dr. Vicente Forés López said in Shakespeare through performance’s class at University of Valencia. It was about that tragedies set out individual issues and, by contrast, comedies present social issues. Although women were relegated in a second place in Shakespeare’s time, they were in fact “the important issue” in society;  so this is the reason why the main characters in Shakespeare’s comedies are always women. I have checked it and it is absolutely true because as we have seen in this paper Rosalind takes charge in this play and she will not be the only one in Shakespeare’s works as I will explain in my second paper.

So power relationships are seen in comedies , a genre not usually associated with politics because they dealt with private themes as they were defined in the Renaissance and by general practice ever since. Tragedies, those plays which represent kings and public actions, are plays of state and power. But being this paper concerned with how Shakespeare challenged his patriarchal society, we may now understand comedic actions as representing power in ways that were significant in Shakespeare’s time and in our own  as well.

Feminist approach in Shakespeare’s plays is recent. As I mentioned before, the masculine element appears more in tragedies and for this reason the plays considered as more important are tragedies, not comedies. But for Shakespeare, women established how society worked and he made the distinction between the idiotic man versus the powerful woman. In this case, Rosalind has embodied an extraordinary heroine, being an example for all women and for men, too.

At that time, Queen Elizabeth I was the monarch and it is known that she enjoyed this kind of plays such as As You Like It because the heroines were always very independent and free women, they fought for their own interests as the queen did. In fact, Shakespeare acted before the queen at Greenwich in 1594.

The social framework is essential to understand the play and the disguise’s role, too. It is worth knowing that for the first time in history, Elizabethan theatre was a theatre played for the audience. What is more, the general knowledge was higher than expected because the culture was transmitted orally from one generation to another generation. So Shakespeare took advantage from this aspect and he managed to delight the feminine audience.

Cross-dressing in the Renaissence had an important consideration also: as women were considered inferior to men, cross-dressing or disguises presented an important change of status. It helped to deconstruct Renaissence gender stereotypes and patriarchy because dress was a code of identity.

In As You Like It, Rosalind’s disguise helps her to deconstruct patriarchy ideas, to enter to the men’s world and to act as a man showing a great intelligence and  capability (even better than a man saying  ‘I am the wiser’). If a woman pretended to be a man, she was assuming more rights than remaining a woman. It means a temporal escape from the court, from the everyday reality. Rosalind, disguised, acts as a shepherd to escape from Duke Frederick, to test Orlando’s love and to cure his love sickness, very typical of what is called ‘the Petrarchan love’. When Rosalind doffs her disguise at the end of the play, the theme vanishes with it, for the play moves into a celebration of the multiple marriages, which form the social control for the sexuality frequently expressed in the forest. With her father present, Rosalind accents her shift in status from daughter to wife, both subordinate roles, as all atone together. Some critics thought that the restoration of the patriarchal ideals at the end of the play did not represented that Shakespeare favoured women but since my point of view it is obvious that Shakespeare did it because he had to please the queen. If he would not have restored the order at the end, this comedy would have been banned during many years.

To sum up, Shakespeare gave women voice in a society where they were supposed to remain in silence. To please everyone he used the disguise’s technique and it empowered him to create Rosalind (Ganymede) and to challenge the passive femininity fashionable in the Elizabethan’s time.  When he wrote ‘All the world’s a stage, apart from referring to as the seven ages of man, he reflected on this sentence that he could represent or capture every aspect of life in the stage or vice versa; so he could not overlook women’s oppression and he made visible the operations of power. Well done Shakespeare!


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