Chapter 11: Twelfth Night and gender fluidity
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The 21st century has witnessed an ongoing reevaluation of gender identity, the acknowledgment of multiple forms of gender expression, and a critique of the male-female gender binary. This essay addresses the striking relevance of Twelfth Night to contemporary conversations about the meaning of gender in human identity. A romantic comedy of cross-dressing, mistaken identity and nonbinary love triangles, Twelfth Night celebrates gender fluidity as central to the successful pursuit of love. While modern film adaptations like She’s the Man and Shakespeare in Love avoid the play’s radical implications and remain within a conservative heterosexual frame, contemporary theater performances and alternative forms such as cosplay express Twelfth Night’s spirit of gender nonconformity.

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