The Role of Women in Chaucerian and Shakespearean Literature Continued…

When it comes to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the fate of the female characters within the play displays a rather different expectation for the role of Renaissance women, though there is certainly some overlap. For example, in her article “Glimpsing a ‘Lesbian’ Poetics in ‘Twelfth Night,”‘ Jami Ake makes an interesting case for the notion that the female characters of the play, especially those of Olivia and Viola/Cesario, are not able to move freely unless they, too, are either freed from male control-represented in Ake’s argument by the form of the Petrarchan sonnet-in the way that both the Wife of Bath and Carruthers insist is necessary for genuine female happiness in marriage, or they are successful in somehow aligning themselves with a form of male-centered power. In this case, Ake’s insistence on the concept of male-control’s         being represented by the Petrarchan sonnet forms the basis for the idea that the role of women in the Twelfth Night is related to the role of women in Chaucer’s “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale” in that both illustrations of women’s roles include the struggle of women to overcome the imprisonment of male control. Ake quotes Nancy Vickers as she explains her reasoning behind her categorization of the Petrarchan sonnet as being representative of such: Continue reading “The Role of Women in Chaucerian and Shakespearean Literature Continued…”