This paper attempts to answer the question of whether Sebastian and Antonio, two characters essential to the plot of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, express same sex desire for one another in a way that is intentional and meaningful. The research informing the topic consists of both the historical context surrounding the queer coding of literature in early modern England and the literature that influenced it, and previous research on the queer themes found within the text. This research is built off of and made unique through analysis of the primary scenes in which both men feature and a connection of these moments to the larger homosocial to homosexual spectrum that has been acknowledged by historians. Using this method begins to bridge the gap between the understanding of the relationship that has evolved from stage productions of the play and the actual potential found within Shakespeare’s use of language and form. While it cannot be concretely said that Shakespeare intended for both men to express homosexual desire, the evidence suggests that they would most likely have been notably queer coded to the audiences of the playwright’s time. The importance of completing this analysis comes from the depth that the dynamic adds to the play when viewed properly, and the significance it has to queer history.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 2020


Anne Gossage

Mentor Department Affiliation

English and Theatre

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level




Department Name when Degree Awarded

English and Theatre