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Shakespeare’s Use Of Fashion In His Plays

1091 words - 5 pages

The Elizabethan Era is considered to be golden age in English poetry, music, and literature. William Shakespeare uses the theater as a place to display the latest styles in clothing, poetry and music. Clothing plays an important part in Shakespeare’s plays. Clothing helped the audience understand the character and components of clothing are mentioned literally and metaphorically in several of his plays, often used as a plot device, and used in appearance versus reality.
Queen Elizabeth I did not change the fashion right away; she waited until she had been queen for a while. The first changes she made were the enlargement of the corsage, farthingale, and the ruff (Covington, Sarah) Then as ...view middle of the document...

Another character that does a similar thing is Malvolio, who makes a fool of himself by dressing in a ridiculous way hoping to get Olivia. Malvolio beliefs that altering his wardrobe could change his social status. At the end, Shakespeare makes the audience think about what human identity really is and whether a person’s gender and class status is unchangeable or can be changed by a change of style. Clothing is used as a plot device when Viola dresses up as a Cesario. Viola is in love with Orsino, who loves Olivia, who loves Cesarion. Clothing creates a sexual confusion in the play and obviously an eccentric love triangle. (SparkNotes: Twelfth Night) Shakespeare uses specifically cross-dressing as a hook on the play because during the Elizabethan Era, only men were allowed to perform in stage, so a male actor cross-dressed as a woman to play Viola, who cross-dressed as a man to play Cesario, which is who Viola pretends to be.
Queen Elizabeth I favored citizens who had a good sense of style, people were always wearing and buying the best clothes they could afford. In Much Ado About Nothing appearance is everything. Benedick is usually in the garment of a soldier; his uncombined clothing reveals him as a lovelorn man. “Fashion wears out more apparel than the men” (MA III.iii.136) The idea is that in the Elizabethan Era fashion changed too quickly, people had to throw away clothes in good condition because they weren’t in style anymore. Shakespeare makes a point that love is fashion and people change love like they change clothes. (Shmoop: Much ado about nothing clothing) During the Elizabethan Era people had to keep up to date with the fashion of the day. Shakespeare compares fashion to love, as characters fall in and out of love.
In Macbeth clothing is not only to cover character’s up, clothing is used metaphorically. When Macbeth hears the news that he’s been named the Thane of Cawdor, he says “Why do you dress me in borrowed robes” (Mac I.iii.107) Macbeth was being sarcastic. In the play, robes are used as a metaphor for the title he has been granted, thinking that he doesn’t deserve the title. (Shmoop: Macbeth Clothing) Shakespeare used a clothing metaphor so that...

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