Is An American Comedy

She’s the Man (2006) directed by Andy Fickman, is an American comedy film made as a modern adaptation of the well-known Twelfth Night (1602) written by William Shakespeare. As a modern adaption, the basic plot remains similar but the social expectations have slightly changed. Twelfth Night’ is a comedy play by William Shakespeare, that challenges the notion of gender roles and relations due to the traits and power of Viola, the gender-changing heroine as well as other women. Being set in the Elizabethan Era, females had much more restraints than men, leaving women with not much rights and set limitations.

In the Elizabethan Era, women were seen as inferior to men. As a woman, you were expected to get married, do all the housework like cleaning, cooking and washing as well as raise and look after the children. Women were also not allowed to receive any formal education or own a profession. Viola, dressed up as Cesario, was able The American comedy film ‘She’s the Man’ features numerous gender stereotypes and generates ideas of expected behaviours from girls.

These ideas have been challenged due to the athletic nature of the protagonist, Viola Hastings, opposing the expectations of females in the time set. Girls in the 2000’s were expected to not be playing sport but instead wearing beautiful long dresses, being a good wife and attending debutante balls, they are supposed to display beauty and perfection.

This is proven by what Viola’s mother expresses in each of her words and her constant complaints (as well as from boys) about Viola playing sport.

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In the scene of the dinner, Viola is surrounded by young women who are acting like ‘real women’, eating politely while Viola, being an athletic girl ‘breaks’ the rules and chews loudly despite her mother telling her to “chew like you have a secret”. This shows how her actions are ‘un-lady like’ and does not depict how a woman should be eating. From her mother’s words to the boy’s reactions to her asking to play for the boy’s team, all this reflects what girls are expected to be in She’s the Man.

However, in Twelfth Night, women (Viola, Olivia) are portrayed as having some sort of power, even over men. Olivia, being the person in the play with the highest power as a female, she has many servants and isn’t afraid to give them orders. This is shown when Malvolio, her servant, gets ordered to “run after the same peevish messenger” (Act 1 Scene 5, 255). As a woman ordering a man to do something for them, it is contrary to the social norm where men were the ones with power over women. Viola, the protagonist of the story also has great power as being able to disguise as Cesario, not only could she serve Orsino but gain his trust. As women were under the status of men, disguising as a man to gain power, though being an offence, Having more power than a typical woman, Viola served Duke Orsino and further on, gain his trust. Her influence is demonstrated when she changed Duke’s mind about Antonio and saved him from death. “He (Antonio) did me kindness, sir, drew on my side,” .

Women, supposedly being lower than men in the Elizabethan Patriarchal Society, Viola managed to get higher in the classes which was very unusual of women at that time. Shakespeare makes women in his plays somewhat exciting and unpredictable however some aspects still reflected the Elizabethan Patriarchal Society, like love and marriage. Viola, being an athletic girl, challenges the idea of gender roles due to girls being not expected to play sports. Girls and women are seen as inferior to men sports-wise; they ‘aren’t’ as strong or as athletic. However, Viola striving to be a soccer hero has to face many hardships due to the unathletic image of a typical girl. Though she had a lot of skill and potential as shown in the soccer game at the start of the film, she still got mocked due to playing soccer as a girl.

“But girls aren’t as fast as boys. Or as strong. Or as athletic. This is not me talking. It’s a scientific fact. Girls can’t beat boys. It’s as simple as that”- Coach Pistonek (Boys’ soccer coach) The writer has used truncated sentences which reinforces and strengthens the Coach’s point, making it seem serious and therefore delivering a stronger point of why girls aren’t good at sports. With Viola being a sporty female, she has surprised many due to the fact that girls weren’t expected to be at the physical level of men or even better.

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Is An American Comedy. (2019, Dec 18). Retrieved from

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