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Shakespeares Henry V and Aphra Behns The Rover were both written for an Elizabethan audience and concern many dominant notions of what it means to be a man. The dramatists explore not only masculinity but the extent to which men play different roles

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  • Essay length: 1921 words
  • Submitted: 10/09/2011
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The first 200 words of this essay...

Both Henry V and The Rover call into question dominant notions of what it means to be a man.

Discuss this statement in an essay of 1,500 words, using the play texts as a basis for your discussion.

Shakespeare's Henry V and Aphra Behn's The Rover were both written for an Elizabethan audience and concern many dominant notions of what it means to be a man. The dramatists explore not only masculinity but the extent to which men play different roles, often adopting behaviours and attitudes that they perceive as compatible with society's expectations for what it means to be a man: brave, heroic, leaders and decision makers, providers for their families, and being the sexually dominant gender. By exploring how the plays portray central male characters, it is also possible to see that the private thoughts of men, particularly those that conflict with the dominant notions of masculinity, are reluctantly expressed or kept hidden.

Henry's 'state', as put by Eliot, is 'multiple and episodic' (Shakespeare, Aphra Behn and the Canon, p.76). He has to play many roles in order to be 'a successful political and military leader' (p.36). His masculinity is an act; it is

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