||The thesis attempts to collect social practices and facts in Shakespeare’s time and to understand how people construct and fashion their new social identities with the help of disguise. The examples of disguise are from Shakespearean plays. We will see how people forge new class and gender identities for themselves by changing their identity indexes of clothing and manners.
Examples of disguise in Shakespeare fall into two categories: same-sex disguise and opposite-sex disguise. Generally speaking, the former kind is devoted to the issue of class identity, while the latter one is devoted to the issue of gender identity. Hopefully, boundaries of class and gender in Shakespeare’s England may appear more clearly before us by understanding how they keep being permeated and blurred by disguisers.
In Introduction, first of all, I show the definitions of disguise found from OED. Then, the statement, attempts, and methodology of this thesis are given. In addition, the position of my research within the relevant academic field is shown, too. Finally, I give a short summary of each chapter.
Chapter One is devoted to the knowledge of Shakespearean social context with regard to clothing and manners, i.e., sumptuary laws and conduct books. We will see how people tried hard to reinforce class and gender distinctions by regulating various types of clothing and manners, and, also, how their attempts turned out to be in vain.
In Chapter Two, I analyze the examples of same sex-disguise, relevant with the issue of class identity. In it, we will see how people forged new status for themselves by changing their clothing and manners. The process of fashioning new status will be demonstrated here.
In Chapter Three, I move on to discuss the fashioning of gender identity by analyzing the examples of opposite-sex disguise. We will see how people make themselves perceived as the members of their opposite sex with the help of cross-dressing and changing their manners. In our discussion of same-sex and opposite-sex disguises, several social facts and practices in Shakespeare’s England will be collected, too.
In the final chapter, I draw a conclusion on various types of disguise that we have discussed in the previous chapters. Then, to make my inference more credible, I move on to justify the legitimacy of inferring reality from literary texts. Last, I give some suggestions for further research.