Photo of Victorian actress Ellen Terry in the role of Lady Macbeth, 1888, holding knives in each of her hands.

Gender Identity [in Shakespeare's Works]

Issues relating to gender in Shakespeare’s dramas have inspired critical interest for centuries, but in the late twentieth century gender has become of tantamount importance to many Shakespearean scholars. Modem commentary has focused on a variety of issues related to gender, including relations and conflicts between the sexes, the concept of what it means to be masculine or feminine, and the ambiguous ground where differentiation between the sexes blurs. Additionally, many critics have taken an interest in the historical component of gender on the Elizabethan stage, noting, for instance, the fact that female roles were originally performed by young boys. Also, scholars have explored Shakespeare’s ideas about gender identity as they evolved over time in the different dramatic genres he...

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