The following comparative analysis of As You Like It and Twelfth Night attempts to demonstrate the differential ways homoeroticism is treated: how it is experienced as pleasure and when it elicits anxiety for both male and female characters. These plays are sites of struggle for the signification of homoeroticism: they demonstrate that within the early modern erotic economy the homoerotic relation to desire could be represented as both celebratory and strained. At the same time, the representations of homoeroticism in these comedies are as much cultural fantasies as is the representation of the maternal body in the Henriad — both representations are ‘fantasmic’ interventions in ‘real’ cultural practices, and as such signal the dialectical relation between the psychic and the social.
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