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Sorrels 1 Eric Sorrels English 301 Dr. Murphy 31 October 2012 What is a Man?

Masculine Identity in Twelfth Night Biologically speaking, all humans begin as female. That is to say, without interference from specific androgens located on the Y chromosome a few weeks into fetal growth, a humans default developmental path is feminine (van der Linde 2). Practically speaking, this fact may have little significance in the end result of fetal development; if the Y chromosome is present at conception, the embryo will be born male, essentially without doubt. However, when this idea is considered in a sociological sense, it presents a unique perspective on the transition from youth to adulthood or more specifically, boyhood to manhood. After all, what is a man, and what implications does masculinity carry? The issue transcends physiological separations, for sexual identity and gender roles are products of the mind and of society, not biology. Like many classic counterparts hot and cold, light and dark I find that the definition of masculinity is incomplete without considering first what it is not: in other words, femininity. How society expects a man to behave may evolve, but masculine and feminine will never have the same definition. What if sociologically speaking, humans began as female as well? If this were the case, then the qualities of masculinity would be substantially more specific, for they would not only mark the transition from boyhood to manhood, but also the abandonment and replacement of feminine traits and features. As societies vary from one to the next, to prove this claim universal would be insurmountable; however, when specifically referring to Elizabethan England, the idea is hardly far-fetched. In Shakespeares Twelfth Night, a play whose title

Sorrels 2 alone suggests that topsy-turvy elements lie within, virtually all his male characters lack the qualities that define the Elizabethan man, even while his boy characters cling to their feminine roots. Twelfth Night highlights what a real man should be by taking what he should not be and exaggerating it to hilarious proportions. These characteristics, however, are not only unmanly they are often specifically feminine. Therefore, an Elizabethan man can embrace his masculinity only after escaping from his feminine origin. Before accepting that manliness is an escape from womanliness, however, the association of boyhood and womanhood must be made clear. On the Elizabethan stage, the very practice of boys playing womens roles makes the link fairly blatant. Russ MacDonald describes the custom thusly: Women did not act on the English stage until after the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. . .In the major troupes most of the boy actors were apprenticed to members of the company and played womens roles until their voices changed or their physical growth made them no longer credible (113). In other words, until these boys reached a certain age in their physical development where manly characteristics began to replace boyish ones, their disguises as female characters were, in fact, believable. Boys were not viewed as smaller versions of men, but as people who, at least in appearance, had more in common with women, primarily in their lack of facial hair and high-pitched voices. Some might argue that the connections stop there. In Impersonations, Stephen Orgel raises some of these concerns, pointing out that while neither boys nor women have facial hair, the modern image of a woman includes hips and breasts that are larger than a man. In this sense, Orgel contends that boys and men are equally unlike women in appearance. However, he also stresses how time-bound the notion of what women look like is (69). The exact shape of a woman is hardly constant, and criteria such as hip and chest size range dramatically across a

Sorrels 3 society. However, a culture tends to specify these measurements to a particular size and shape when defining its ideal woman. In Elizabethan England, Renaissance portraits suggest that the ideal female noble possessed a flat chest and narrow hips (70), and under these circumstances, the physical connection between boys and women in an Elizabethan setting is redeemed. From a theatrical perspective, though, connections in terms of hips and breast size is probably irrelevant, as an audience would have a much more difficult time making those specific differentiations from a distance. Instead, the much more visible distinction, facial hair, is the prominent factor to consider. Facial hair, particularly beards, has a direct link to manhood, especially in the Early Modern period. The ability to grow a beard, then, has a twofold meaning: the ability to grow a beard not only marks the end of boyhood, but it is also a distinction that identifies men as masculine and not feminine. On the stage then, facial hair becomes a shorthand dichotomy; people with facial hair are manly, and people without facial hair are not. Eleanor Ryncroft confirms: In Shakespeares plays particularly, facial hair serves as a locus for adult masculine identity in a discourse which both reflected on and intervened in the English fashion for beards (217). If Ryncrofts argument is true, then its converse should be considered as well. If facial hair on the stage serves as a signifier of masculinity, then its absence should be a locus for feminine identity. The same thought process, of course, can and should be applied to a males depth of voice. As the lack of a beard and deep voice is apparent in both boys and women, they share a feminine identity under this distinguishing tool. A boy actors options, then, were to portray a boy or a woman, but certainly not a man. And when a boy reached a point where audiences had no trouble accepting that he was a man, he simultaneously forsook the option of playing both boys and women. To be fair, MacDonald also admits that some scholars believe

Sorrels 4 that men may have played older womens roles on occasion (112), but the physical connection at hand is not between boys and matrons, but rather boys and maids. In this sense, the true dichotomy belongs to gender identity. While peoples overall behavior may not be absolutely masculine or feminine, the individual qualities they possess must be one (e.g., facial hair), or neither (e.g., having fingers), but they cannot be both. Therefore, if the presence of some attribute is masculine, then the only way to define its absence is by calling it feminine. As the traits that set apart a man from a boy are, by definition, absent in the boy, the qualities that remain in him must tie more closely with feminine characteristics. Looking at Twelfth Night, Shakespeare makes this connection one of the key points of his plot through Sebastian and Viola/Cesarios identical physicality. Mistaken identity between these two characters is, of course, an important element of this plays progression. Orsino eloquently comments on the illusion when Viola and her twin brother finally share the stage: One face, one voice, one habit, and two persons, / A natural perspective, that is and not! (5.1.200-201). Cesarios mirror-like exterior baffles even Sebastian Do I stand there? (1.5.211) he wonders aloud moments later. What makes this resemblance critical is not Violas similarity to Sebastian, but Sebastians resemblance to Cesario, the eunuch whose exterior clothing hides a woman. In other words, Viola does not make herself manly like Sebastian; rather, Sebastian is inherently feminine like his disguised sister. There is no question that Cesario possesses feminine traits, as Orsino muses in one of their first encounters: They shall yet belie thy happy years That say thou art a man: Dianas lip Is not more smooth and rubious; thy small pipe Is as the maidens organ, shrill and sound,

Sorrels 5 And all is semblative a womans part. (1.4.28-32) What needs to be made clear, however, is that if I am to take seriously the characters astonishment at the plays climax, then this overtly feminine description of Cesario applies equally to Sebastian the youth. At the least, his homogenous appearance indicates that he is certainly beardless, as the plays dialogue confirms through another description of Cesario. Now Jove, in his next commodity of hair, send thee a beard! (3.1.35) Feste cackles at his/her expense. In physical terms, then, Viola and Sebastian testify to the maid-boy link Ryncroft and Macdonald discuss. At the same time, Sebastian is definitely male; however, like many of Shakespeares creations in Twelfth Night, he is one who exudes quite unmanly characteristics. Despite whatever manhood he possessed before washing up on Illyrias shores, when Sebastian loses everything in his shipwreck, he has no choice but to reset to his feminine origin when fate resets his identity. I argue that sociologically speaking, boys grow into men by shedding or replacing womanly characteristics. This implies that in the case of men, their identity hinges on preserving masculine indicators, both internal and external. If he is separated from his identity, or if it is ripped away from him, then what should remain underneath is a raw feminine base, the biological and sociological drawing board of gender development. Fortunately, in Shakespeares character Sebastian resides the perfect case study for such a phenomenon. Though a fictional character, the very process of his devolving to femininity suggests a social consensus that before a boy can be a man, he must pass through stages of feminine behavior. Whatever life Sebastian knew before the nautical accident that stranded him from his fellow shipmates is no more by the time he walks on the stage. In this initial conversation with Antonio, Sebastian alludes to the first decision he made when coming on Illyrias shore: You

Sorrels 6 must know of me then, Antonio, my name is Sebastian, which I called Roderigo (2.1.10-11). Sebastian is fully aware of the jeopardy this shipwreck had placed on his identity. With nothing around him to indicate that he is still living the life of Sebastian no home, no sister, no money, no friends he must start from square one, specifically with a new name. As Sebastian scrambles to reshape himself, he begins to exhibit traits that demonstrate a return to feminine behavior. Fare ye well at once, he says to Antonio. My bosom is full of kindness, and I am yet so near the manners of my mother that upon the least occasion more mine eyes will tell tales of me (2.1. 28-29). This passage suggests that in the face of trauma, one of a mans duties is to keep his emotions under his control, and an unnecessary show of tears at his misfortune effeminates him. The only actions Shakespeare shows of this stranded Sebastian are wandering without purpose and crying, like a child who has been separated from his mother in a supermarket. Eventually, he settles for Antonio as a substitute for the security he has lost. Later on, Antonio and Sebastian share the stage again, and their second interaction shows a sacrifice in autonomy from Sebastian and effeminate treatment from Antonio: Ant.: Hold, sir, heres my purse. . . Seb.: Why I your purse? Ant.: Haply your eye shall light upon some toy You have desire to purchase; and your store I think is not for idle markets. (3.4.38, 43-46) By assuming financial responsibility over Sebastian, combined with the homoerotic subtleties layered beneath the scene, Antonio seems to make attempts to feminize Sebastian, to make him a subservient partner in their relationship. Sebastian, with no means to assume a masculine identity in the foreign world, is still adhering to his feminine base here and allows Antonio to

Sorrels 7 exert monetary authority over him. The connotations of this dialogue are certainly not of brotherly charity; Antonio is plainly in love with Sebastian, and his actions construct Sebastian as a damsel in distress, not a man with a meager income. Even when Sebastian exchanges his relationship with Antonio for Olivia, he remains emasculated to some degree; he is both younger than her (2.4.25-28) and the recipient of her proposal (4.3. 23-33). In Sebastian, then, Shakespeare proves that a man is first and foremost not a boy. Ryncroft concludes her argument in agreement with Orgel and Shakespeare: The polarization of boys and men within this system of thought, placing boys closer to the humoural complexion of women. . . endorses Stephen Orgels contention that boys were not so much viewed as minimen but as antithetical to them during the Renaissance (218). In both physicality and behavior, a man grows by setting himself apart from his childhood, which by this logic must find more in common with females. But what about adult men? Twelfth Night, of all plays, attests that appearances and true identity do not always line up. Therefore, a true Elizabethan man must not only have a beard or financial independence. Shakespeare also shows through Orsino that when a man allows his desires to suppress his reasoning, the results divest him of his masculinity, and in extreme cases, even his humanity. Bruce R. Smith in his edition of Twelfth Night states that to effeminate a man is to turn him into a love-longing creature (158), to which I wholeheartedly agree. If we are in search of Shakespeares definition of a man by his antithesis, then Orsinos mannerisms and behavior should be the next stop on the voyage. Where to begin? There is no doubt that (erotic) love is the sole object of Orsinos desire. Proving that this love effeminates him requires a bit more effort, but luckily, Orsino sets up humorous contradictions for himself that make the task far simpler. If music be the food of love, play on; Orsino famously pines. Give me excess of it,

Sorrels 8 that surfeiting, the appetite may sicken and so die (1.1.1-3). Orsino in these opening lines applies this sensual depiction of love to his current state, which is revealed to the audience in the moments that follow. In a later conversation with Cesario, Orsino presents the argument once again: Alas, their love may be called appetite, / No motion of the liver, but the palate, / That suffer surfeit, cloyment, and revolt (2.4.94-96). This time, however, the words are directed at womens hearts, not his. The hilarity of Orsino lies in the fact that in presenting his case for why he surpasses women in love, he exposes his lack of self-awareness at just how feminine his own behavior is. At the start of the play, it is his appetite whose sickening he seeks, but his second argument hinges on the fact that only women can surfeit from love. Without realizing it, Orsino has effectively classified his own behavior as womanly. If calling him consistently feminine is too far of a stretch, I can still safely argue that actions are inconsistently masculine. There are times, however, when his words indicate that desire has tugged him below even the realm of humanity. Orsino, as the title Duke indicates, has been tasked with more responsibility and duty than any other man in Illyria. Instead of fulfilling these duties, however, Orsino opens the play by letting music satisfy his cravings of love and complaining how he his desires have left him powerless: That instant was I turned into a hart, / And my desires, like fell and cruel hounds, / Eer since pursue me (1.1.20-22). The imagery here alludes to Ovid and the transformative power of love, though not in a positive way. Orsinos desire for Olivia (1.1.18) has not propelled him to spiritual heights, but has instead stripped him of autonomy over his very soul, debasing him to the sensual proclivities of a beast. Orsino paints eros as a violent scene, like an all-buthelpless stag desperately darting away from predators. Desire has taken Orsino human, the hunter and turned him into a hart animalistic, the hunted. Though this vein of thought is

Sorrels 9 not necessarily feminine, Shakespeare remains consistent in the fact that Orsinos manhood is nowhere to be found. I have thus far made attempts to describe masculinity from a non-masculine perspective, under the reasoning that only by stepping outside of a picture can an accurate examination be made. My final point will, in some ways, continue in this endeavor, but only in an effort to answer one more question: where is the line drawn? Is there a gray area? If there ever were one, Cesario would be that very region of indistinguishability. Is Cesario a man, a woman, androgynous, or something beyond classification? Before even beginning to examine Cesario, one more factor must be considered. Before any transformation Viola makes in Twelfth Night, a metamorphosis has already occurred on the Elizabethan stage. Though a boy is merely en route on the journey to masculinity, he nonetheless can possess an increasingly large amount of traits that begin to stratify adult genders. Whatever masculine prospects he may have, however, are discarded the moment he plays a woman and cannot be regained until he ceases to feminize himself. William Prynne (1600-1669) expresses his concern for the effects on gender identity cross dressing can have: What wantonness, what effeminacy parallel to that which our men-women actors, in all their feminine, express upon the theatre? This is one of the most exact, powerful, and virtually universal ways Western society has defined a man through what he is not; a man, by definition, does not wear womens clothes, and the act of wearing womens clothes will, at least temporarily, make a man effeminate. Shakespeare has no difficulty grasping the significance of this truth combined with the all but invisible custom of cross-dressing boy actors. Viola, as a result, is in many ways an investigation of cross-dressing and its effects on adapting gender.

Sorrels 10 To start, Viola definitely chooses to disguise herself as a eunuch, which although only mentioned once (1.2.56), should be a significant factor in determining Cesarios gender. Kier Elam posits that Viola, in choosing to be a castrate rather than a boy, refers to her disguise not as a form of cross-dressing or a change of gender roles but as an actual canceling of biological sexuality (1). By claiming the loss of something she never had to begin with, Cesario, in some ways, seems to have a neutral sex. Orgel comments on Cesarios sexlessness (54) as well, adding two important notes: (1) while a eunuchs sexual performance is taken away from him, urges and desire remains present, and (2) there is an apparent cultural link, like boys and women, with castrated males of any age and women (54-55). In short, there are historians today who contend that Violas act of becoming a eunuch is an attempt to remove herself sexually from the situation at hand, despite the problems desire can still have on castrates. This does not solve the issue of gender, however. As Robert Kimbrough states articulately, Sex is genetically determined. Gender is not (19). In this case, removing what determined your sex, in itself, should only affect your gender if you allow it to psychologically and if people with whom you interact allow it to happen sociologically. Therefore, while condensing Cesarios sexual ambiguity to sexless may be appropriate, whether he/she is masculine or feminine remains in question. Kimbrough argues that Cesario is both, using the term androgyny, and explains that Cesario can be classified as this because he/she has the ability to exhibit an entire scope of characteristics, which ordinarily would be limited to one sex (21). This contention supports my belief that an understanding of masculinity is, in itself, incomplete without including femininity as well. Viola, in becoming androgynous, experiences human freedom and growth in male disguise (28), suggesting that a truly complete human being is capable of performing both masculine and feminine gender norms.

Sorrels 11 While I find this argument particularly convincing, Viola may not necessarily agree that she has become both a man and a woman, nor would the Elizabethan puritanical audience. Just as a boy must abandon his feminine origin to become masculine, a woman too must shed her female characteristics and replace them with manly ones if she is to successfully swap genders. On the one hand, the goal can certainly be feigned with the aid of transvestism, as Cesario indicates. On the other hand, the anonymous author of Hic Mulier (1620) suggests that the journey to masculinity in this way can only produce a botched result: Come then, you Masculine women, for you are my Subject. . .You that have made your bodies like antic Boscadge or Crotesco work, not half man/half woman, half fish/half flesh, half beast/ half Monster, but all Odious, all Devil; that have cast off the ornaments of your sexes to put on the garments of Shame. (4-5) The passage not only stresses a specific cultural anxiety regarding clothing and gender identity, but it also represents a moralistic protest to misaligning gender with biological sex. Masculinity, according to this author, belongs only to the male sex, and a woman determined to exchange her gender roles is merely asking for trouble. Viola, despite her earlier eagerness to disguise herself as a eunuch, agrees with this Early Modern idea at one point: Disguise, I see, thou art a wickedness / Wherein the pregnant enemy does much. / . . . / My master loves her dearly; / And I, poor monster, fond as much on him (2.3.22-23, 28-29). It is also worth noting that these thoughts come from a soliloquy, and are therefore internal. Viola may literally feel like a woman trapped in a mans body, but Cesario nonetheless is exteriorly masculine, and Violas gender shift essentially fools everybody. From a cultural standpoint, how effective her transformation is remains ambiguous, but a transformation has certainly taken place.

Sorrels 12 But can the transformation last, or is it only a matter of time before the spell wears off? Twelfth Night remains somewhat ambivalent about just how transient the disguise of masculinity can be. As Orsino states, Cesario, come / For so you shall be, while you are a man; / But when in other habits you are seen, / Orsinos mistress and his fancys queen (5.1.362-365). These lines alone would suggest that adopted masculinity is fleeting and hinges only on a masculine exterior, but the mildly startling reality is that the audience is never rewarded with witnessing Violas return to feminine identity. Has the effeminate Orsino won himself a bride, a boy, something more, or something less? The best assessment I can make for Cesario, given the layered disguise of the boy actor and female character and his state as a eunuch, is to call him the point of origin on a metaphorical coordinate plane of gender identity. In the world of Illyria, at least, this seems to be the case. Just as the number zero is separate from all other integers (it is neither positive nor negative), so too in Twelfth Night is Cesario the intersection of male and female, masculine and feminine. Masculinity in Twelfth Night rests on what Cesario is and is not. Without Orsino and Festes physical descriptions of him, I could not argue for Sebastians feminized appearance and therefore use him as an example for the Elizabethan boy-maid connection. Without Violas self-awareness and anxiety of masculinizing herself, I could not realize that Orsinos exuberant self-interest yet nonexistent self-awareness of the excessive love for which he languishes feminizes him. What is a man? On simplest terms, a man is one end of the spectrum of gender identity, the opposite side of which hosts both women and boyhood. This polarity between genders is the very basis for their existence. A man, while he remains a man, will never be a woman. There is, however, no inherent truth in the details only the unspoken agreement

Sorrels 13 of a particular society. That a man is not a woman is the only certainty in gender identity, and therefore, it is the only valid tool to define masculinity in a given culture.

Sorrels 14 Works Cited Elam, Keir. The Fertile Eunuch: Twelfth Night, Early Modern Intercourse, and the Fruits of Castration. Shakespeare Quarterly. 47.1 (1996): 1-36. JSTOR. Web. 20 Sept. 2012. Hic Mulier. London: Eliots Court P, 1620. 4-5. Early English Books Online. Web. 19 Sept. 2012. Kimbrough, Robert. Androgyny Seen through Shakespeares Disguise. Shakespeare Quarterly. 33.1 (1982): 17-33. JSTOR. Web. 20 Sept. 2012. McDonald, Russ. The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare: An Introduction with Documents. New York: Bedford St. Martin's. 109-127. Print.

Orgel, Stephen. Impersonations: The performance of gender in Shakespeares England. Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 1996. 54-55, 69-70. Print.

Prynne, William. Histrio-Mastrix: The Players Scourge; or, Actors Tragedy. 1633. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Norton Topics Online. Web. 21 Sept. 2012. Rycroft, Eleanor. Facial Hair and the Performance of Adult Masculinity on the Early Modern English Stage. Locating the Queens Men, 1583-1603. Ed. Helen Ostovich, Holger 217-225. Schott Syme, and Andrew Griffin. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2009. Print.

Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night, or What You Will. Ed. Bruce R. Smith. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2001. 29-110. Print. Smith, Bruce R. Music. Twelfth Night, or What You Will. Ed. Bruce R. Smith. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2001. 158. Print.

Sorrels 15 van der Linde, Brook. Anarchic Love. e-Vision. Volume 5: 2005. Web. 18 Oct. 2012.