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Here I am yet cannot hold this visible shape: The Music of Gender in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

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  • Marcus Tan

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Music has always been used as an important dramaturgical strategy in Western theatre to create a holistic theatrical experience. In Shakespeare’s plays, music was employed as a unique dramaturgical device for various purposes. Twelfth Night distinguishes itself from among the many plays that employ music because it begins, ends and progresses with music. Music pervades Twelfth Night and is tightly interwoven into the thematic concerns of the play such as love and gender. Because of music’s elusive nature and the difficulty of discussing a musical aesthetics, Shakespearean music critics have approached music in the play as a theme or an idea. This paper hopes to develop upon older scholarship by introducing an alternate framework of considering music’s musicality through a musicological analysis of the songs in Twelfth Night. In so doing, the paper hopes to show how and why music can modulate our responses to the play and in particular, to the theme of gender, a problematic issue that produces the elusive and darker nature of this festive comedy.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
Pages (from-to)99-125
JournalComitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Journal publication date2001
StatePublished - 2001

ID: 2600368