FROM ANTISOCIAL TO PROSOCIAL MANHOOD: SHAKESPEARE’S RESCRIPTING OF MASCULINITY IN AS YOU LIKE IT

in Configuring Masculinity in Theory and Literary Practice
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Cognitive psychologists have established that people’s internalized gender scripts, which play a large role in constituting people’s identity, or sense of self, and thus in motivating and directing their behaviors, are to a significant degree internalizations of the gender scripts circulating in one’s culture. Shakespeare’s plays offer a rich array of masculinity scripts for examination and either rejection or adoption. More specifically, by revealing the respective motives and consequences of various masculinity scripts, the plays embook-body a tacit but powerful critique of dominant masculinity (most obviously in the tragedies and histories) and an embrace of alternative masculinities, most notably in the comedies. As You Like It stands out among the comedies as offering the most cogent critique of dominant masculinity together with a strong case for embracing alternative masculinity scripts that are at once “truer to nature”, less harmful to others, and more fulfilling to their bearers themselves.

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