Introduction: Wearing the Codpiece



In The Two Gentlemen of Verona, one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, the heroine Julia and her maid Lucetta contemplate the best way for a woman to convincingly dress as a man:

LUCETTA: What fashion, madam, shall I make your breeches?

JULIA: That fits as well as “Tell me, good my lord,

What compass will you wear your farthingale?”

Why, e’en what fashion thou best likes, Lucetta.

LUCETTA: You must needs have them with a codpiece, madam.

JULIA: Out, out, Lucetta. That will be ill-favoured.

LUCETTA: A round hose, madam, now’s not worth a pin

Unless you have a codpiece to stick pins on.

JULIA: Lucetta, as thou lov’st me let me have

What thou think’st meet and is most mannerly.

But tell me, wench, how will the world repute me

For undertaking so unstaid a journey?

I fear me it will make me scandalized.1


Gender Identity National Identity Male Actor Audience Member Male Role 
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© Elizabeth Klett 2009

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