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Research Paper

1344 words - 5 pages

Homosexuality and heterosexuality have become major subject matters throughout the early twenty-first century. However, these qualities have previously existed and have preoccupied the minds of countless theorists and critics for several years. Homosexuality is not only a common aspect in the twenty-first century world, but has also been developing into a literary critique know as “queer theory.” The theory consists of evaluating the unity between male and female counterparts within the same individual. Queer theory functions in a way that ultimately discards differences between gender and sexuality among characters. Some theorists “use the term to apply specifically to gender and sexual orientations (such as transgender) that challenge or complicate the presumed alliance between sexual identity and gender identity” (Grant 363). Queer theory originated around the 1990s when heterosexuality began to be challenged by psychological and cultural aspects of individuals and society. As the theory emerged, Alexander Doty recognized the ability to comprehend texts trough the perceptions of queer theory (Grant 363). Judith Butler, a theorist and philosopher, is also associated with the rise of queer theory. Butler conveyed the idea that “gender is a fluid variable, with no independent existence of its own, and it shifts and changes depending on a person's context” (Ruttenberg 317). Butler believes that certain actions weaken a binary gender system; thus, a more “equal” society may ascend in which individuals are not limited to certain male and female roles (Ruttenberg 317). Cross-dressing, dressing in clothing typically worn by members of the opposite sex, has also affected the idea of queer theory. As a result, the differences of genders diminish. In William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: Or What You Will, Shakespeare depicts the merging of male and female through the use of disguises and idiosyncratic relationships to affirm the ideals of homosexuality.
Disguises and forms of cross-dressing play a major role within the concept on homosexuality and queer theory, which is demonstrated through Viola, a Twelfth Night: or What You Will character. Cross-dressing, the act of wearing articles of clothing that belong to the opposite sex, dates back to nearly the fifth century B.C. This manner of dressing attracted negative attention from high positioned individuals including medical professors or religious members. The term used to describe the change of gender clothing and roles has become known as Transvestism (Lerner 1). It has been reported, “Cross-dressing became a concern in the nineteenth century as middle-class men in the U.S. and Europe began to suffer a growing anxiety about the meaning of masculinity” (Lerner 1). Despite the acceptance throughout the twentieth century for women to dress in masculine attire, any form of cross-dressing in previous centuries was seen as peculiar and suspicious amongst a community. Such actions contribute to...

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