Victoria Sparey
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Conclusion – spot the difference
Symmetry, difference, and gender in early modern constructions of adolescence
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The conclusion offers an overview of the book’s findings, drawing out where aspects of symmetry and difference have been observed in the representation of female and male puberty in Shakespeare’s plays and early modern culture. The conclusion considers a new ‘sign’ of puberty and evaluates the infrequency of allusions to skin complaints in relation to early modern adolescence. The conclusion assesses how and why certain signs of puberty are privileged in early modern culture and how these seem to insistently relate to reproductive assumptions ascribed to bodies. The conclusion also provides tentative conclusions about the trajectory of Shakespeare’s treatment of adolescence across plays performed from the 1590s to the 1610s. Recycled performance strategies and developments in representations of adolescence are connected to theatrical circumstance (including an ageing and changing theatre company) and changes in wider cultural, political, and medical discourses. The conclusion also uses these findings to highlight trends in the textual and performance afterlives of Shakespeare’s adolescent characters that span into the seventeenth century, where, for example, editorial interventions can be seen to modify the vivacity of Shakespeare’s female adolescents.

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Shakespeare’s adolescents

Age, gender and the body in Shakespearean performance and early modern culture


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