The role of women

Women barred

In Shakespeare’s day, women were not allowed to act on the stage in England. All the female roles in Shakespeare were played by adolescent boys whose voices had not broken – including such famous romantic leads as Cleopatra and Juliet. In The Taming of the Shrew Katherina and Bianca would both have been played by boys.
This situation did not change until after the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, who had spent many years in France where customs were different. 
In several of his plays, such as The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, Cymbeline, and Twelfth Night, Shakespeare has female characters disguise themselves in boys’ clothing, which must have been more comfortable for the boy actors.
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