Adelman’s handling of the late plays is a triumph of  doctrinaire feminist dogma over Shakespeare’s art.  Her profound misunderstanding of them is rooted in  her failure to appreciate the comedies,  which she barely treats in her book.  The comedies are lightweight for  Adelman,  they are comic only ‘by sustaining the illusion that the endlessly appealing girls of the comedies will never become fully sexual women and hence will never lose their androgynous charm; having no mothers they need not become mothers’.  Despite the fact that marriage is the ostensible end of Shakespeare’s comic plots these plays do not look forward to the sexual consummation that is the seal of marriage.  Attention is deflected away from female sexuality by a number of devices: a comic closure that defers consummation, unresolved female transvestism,  the boy actor stepping out of his role in the epilogue to remind us that he is, after all, a boy.  It is the absence of fully imagined female sexuality which is the condition of the ‘holiday tone’ of these plays, reminding us that for Shakespeare sex is the stuff not of comedy but tragedy.   I cannot imagine anybody writing words about Shakespeare with which I could disagree more.   There is a catastrophic failure here to realise that the comedies are as intimately connected to the tragedies as a husband is to a wife.  In Shakespeare the one makes no sense without the other.   


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