Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Arthur Horowitz

Reader 2

Glenn Simshaw

Reader 3

Carolyn Ratteray

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© 2016 Brooklyn D. Robinson


Twelfth Night does not end with the acceptance and consummation of these “alternative couples.” Instead, the reveal of the twins has a clarifying effect and the characters are returned to the partner who is considered socially acceptable. The final relationships are heterosexual matches that do not stray from class or any other societal confines. Indeed, the story serves to reinforce common standards equating alternative love with madness and proper love with lucidity. Standing outside of the couplings are only bachelor men: Antonio, Sir Andrew, Feste and Orsino’s pages. In effect, these men are desexualized without romantic counterparts. While they are deemed outcasts in Illyria, one character in particular stands to gain from this seeming lack of sexuality and outsider status: the clown, Feste.

Gender and power find clarification through the character of Feste because he is afforded all of the privileges of a male in a patriarchal society and in order to analyze him, his positionality within the function and structure of the story must be acknowledged. Usually the character of Viola holds this position in scholarship, but the possibility of Feste played by a female actor introduces similar themes of cross-gender disguise while decoding the heteronormative standards reinforced by the conclusion of the play.