Merchant of Venice
Shakespeare and Homosociality: Defying Elizabethan Comformity
Although considered light and delightful entertainment, Shakespeare's plays of comedy often address serious issues confronting Elizabethan values of propriety and social decorum. Anti-Semitism, death and homosexuality are frequent themes woven in his plays and the latter is addressed in Much Ado About Nothing and The Merchant of Venice. In exhibiting the inherent bonds that transpire between males Shakespeare substantiates their acts of loyalty and devotion with measures that try the men's love; it is then that the reader comprehends Bassanio and Claudio's willingness to select their male relationships over their romantic ones. Battling through mutual experiences the men in both Much Ado About Nothing and The Merchant of Venice are bonded in ties of loyalty, devotion and love far surpassing the strength of heterosexual marriages in the plays. Shakespeare artfully designs this rift between the genders to shatter the conservatism of Elizabethan notions of propriety.
The homosocial bonds in Much Ado About Nothing are established immediately in the introduction of the play. The men are announced to the women of Messina as an arriving group of valiant gentlemen visiting from a well-fought war. War in itself is a highly...
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