Shakepeare's Two Antonios: Language, Stage History, and the History of Sexuality | Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
University of Pittsburgh

Shakepeare's Two Antonios: Language, Stage History, and the History of Sexuality

February 18, 2013 - 12:00pm
Marianne Novy

Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program

Shakespeare's plays Merchant of Venice and Twelfth Night both contain men named Antonio who speak of their love for another male character. Both Antonios remain single at the ends of their plays while both of the men they love marry women.  Recent critics often see homosexual desire in the Antonios, and productions today often emphasize their exclusion from the comic community.  Some have argued, however, that these views lack historical awareness, whether because the Antonios exemplify the conventions of ideal friendship, or because the early modern period might have accepted their forms of same-sex desire.  However, one Antonio could also be considered an outsider because he is a melancholy character in a comedy, and the other because he is arrested and called a pirate. This paper considers the possible outsider or insider status of these characters in relation to the characters' language and stage history and the history of sexuality.

This talk is derived from Professor Novy's book Shakespeare and Outsiders, forthcoming from Oxford University Press in June. The talk will introduce a few of the issues to be discussed in her new fall graduate course, Shakespeare, Gender, and sexuality. This talk is co-sponsored by the Women's Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh.



If you have questions, please contact the MRST Program Director,  Professor Jennifer Waldron (




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