Twelfth Night

Gender Identity in “Twelfth Night”

April 24, 2020 by Essay Writer

Gender identity and alternative sexuality tend to differ, in the reading of the Twelfth Night and the Globe production, because of certain scenes with comical relief. The play portrays itself as comical due to its all male cast having both female and male characters. While the written version of the play was always less humorous, because the gender roles were set with a traditional cast of female actors for female characters.

According to the Bulman article, the written play and the Globe production took a true Elizabethan approach bycasting an all male cast for the production of the Twelfth Night play. The roles of Olivia and Viola in the Trevor Nunn version of the play, showed the audience a female on female homoerotic relationship between Olivia and the actress who played the role of Cesario.

Which was a trait the written version, and the Globe Production, attempted to avoid by making the characters all males.

According to the Bulman article, the all male production and the written version differ from the Trevor Nunn Film because of its comedic effect. The Bulman article explains, Drag is a sly parody of femininity (pg.84). The drag aspect of an all-male cast discussed in the Bulman article involved actors dressing up in drag adding certain comic benefits of drag (pg.84). The all-male comedic aspect of the play is something the Trevor Nunn film version of the play missed with the choice of a traditional cast.

A scene that I believe failed to make its original point because of the traditional casting choice in the Trevor Nunn film version of the play, was the scene where Malvolio addresses Olivia about the letter. He confesses his love in the process and I believe it loses some of it’s humor because of the male to female interaction.

A scene that was improved by the casting in the Trevor Nunn film version of the play was the scene where Viola, disguised as Cesario, began to engage in a kiss with Orsino while Feste sang a soft song in the background of the same room.

We men may say more, swear more, but indeed

Our shows are more than will, for still we prove

Much in our vows, but little in our love. (2.4 100-105)

This scene was definitely improved by traditional casting because of how awkward the situation was. It is even relatable because many heterosexual couples have experienced the awkwardness of a third wheel being involved.

If I were in charge of producing a version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night I would use

continue to use the Elizabethan approach to cast for the play. The reason being is that it is a remarkable experience when so many people are on board with this type of a production. The Bulman article touches on this a bit when it is explained how much more casual and in the norm these types of productions were to people of the era. It was originally supposed to include children, but because of the taboo aspect of the scenes in our westernized day in age, it would never be accepted. Same goes for the ignorance of male to male sexuality. Many viewers of these Shakespearean plays were able to truly connect and relate with these characters to a certain degree. This brings me to modern America, where we can not fully accept the way many people choose to live their lives.

I suppose there are people who would like to see a more traditional approach because of

the way they may view gender identity and sexuality, but I don’t see an issue in the latter.

Although a traditional cast does make gender identities easier for first time viewers to

understand, it sacrifices the humor elements in the play that are addressed more directly in an all-

male cast production. The humor in the play would diminish completely if it weren’t for the play containing an all male cast, and would seem perplexed and in some parts, unnecessary.

In reference to characters that I would develop better, I would probably have to chose the random towns people throughout the play. They are introduced but have only a small role in the play. While they are trying to commit murder at one point, I feel like that gives them enough of a reason to develop their characters.They provide comedic relief in the play where some might feel uncomfortable in other scenes. This provides a sort of compromise so that it can appeal to a larger audience.

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Twelfth Night Film Essay

April 24, 2020 by Essay Writer

Issues of gender identity and alternative sexualities register differently when reading twelfth Night than in viewing the globe production by James Bulman in Bearding the Queen: Male Cross-Dressing at the New Globe. When reading twelfth Night, gender identity and sexuality is used as a concept for self-identity. The way Viola cross-dresses as Cesario helps in showing how much she benefited when she was a woman than when she was a man.

Dramatic irony quotes such as A little thing would make me tell them how much I lack of a man (III, IV, 255-6) reoccur throughout the play and is seen as a reminder that the characters have an underlying femininity. Viola goes through a change of identity and just like her name her behavior disrupts the conservative female behavior. She lived in a male authoritative society alone after she lost her brother and father which was hard. However, she works as a male and takes on the male attire, the male dress is seen as practical means of survival although she identifies herself as a female. By cross-dressing Viola replaces herself as male and takes control of her own life.

On the other hand, viewing the globe production by James Bulman in Bearding the Queen: Male Cross-Dressing at the New Globe, issues of gender identity and cross-dressing are seen as performative as opposed to innate (Bulman 75). Gender is seen as a sexual desire and a cultural construct as opposed to just a simple difference in biology. This means that gender is identified by situational behavior and external code of conduct rather than an interior and essential gender identity.

The second way when reading twelfth Night issues of gender identity and sexuality is seen through extra-textual cross-dressing. Gender coherence of characters is seen in a dramatic text and can be displayed through cross-dressing. By using such a character in the text, the character is forced at different times to play the roles of both female and male. Using double entendre and dramatic irony helps to enhance the character’s relationship with the readers. The way that Cesario as Viola is resourceful, empathetic and can show different desires when it comes to different characters shows that the representation of the cross-dresser is positive.

Issues of gender identity and alternative sexualities register differently in viewing of the globe production described by James Bulman in Bearding the Queen: Male Cross-Dressing at the New Globe are however different. Cross-dressing is seen as a way of adding comic effect to the play. According to Bulman Drag is a sly parody of femininity (84).This means that the actors are cross-dressed and dressed in drag so as to add what Bulman calls comic benefits of drag (84). Therefore, the play avoids the choice of a traditional cast of the play and also the all-male comedic aspect.

According to James C. Bulman notes, the all-male production differs from a traditional version, in which men play men and women play women as it casts an all-male members for the plays(76). The Elizabethan stage is different from the traditional version where each gender would play their gender roles. This means that it was an all-male cast and wore Elizabethan dress as the male cross-dressed. The Elizabethan stage or an all-male production is a stage where considerable multiplicity and fluidity is seen when it comes to channeling sexual energies.

I agree with Bulman’s thesis that a traditional version would not be the same and it would have eliminated the pun and the comic relief of the cross-dressed men. The casting of Viola disguised as the page Cesario is proved to be more acceptable as in the globe performance, the all-male cast acted as an alienating device to identify with sexual desire and gender identity. The audiences were receptive to the gender provocations in a popular venue like the globe which heavily appeals families, tourists and school children.

If I was producing a version of this play, I would you cast it with regards to gender the traditional cast for the play. This is because a traditional casting would is simple and it will appeal to majority of the audiences. By casting male-male and female-female in their true gender, the audiences would have it easy to understand issues of gender identities and alternative sexualities in line of who is male and who is female. However, the traditional casting would have its disadvantages as the element of humor in the play is sacrificed which is addressed in a direct way when an all-male cast is featured.

The main factor which would impact my decision on the type of production would be the type of audience attending the play. Possibly, if the play was to be produced to an audience that is familiar with Shakespeare and Twelfth Night, I would have considered an all-male production. This will help increase the cosmic effect and potential humor throughout the play. Therefore, this means that my choice of casting will depend on the circumstances as well as the audiences involved in the play.

Another way in which the audience would impact my choice of casting is that those who have read or are familiar with Shakespeare and Twelfth Night would embrace the homoerotic undertone during the production. For example, when reading twelfth Night Antonio when talking to Sebastian says that I could not stand behind you. My desire, /more sharp than filed steel, did spur me fourth (3.3.4-5). This way, Antonio and Sebastian’s relationship can be seen to be embracing a homoerotic undertone. However, when it comes to the production Antonio can be seen as a mentor and even a care giver to Sebastian. Therefore, first time audiences would have a problem when it comes to identifying the homoerotic nature of Antonio and Sebastian’s relationship.


Bulman, James C. “”Bearding the Queen: Male Cross-Dressing at the New Globe.”” Shakespearean Performance: New Studies (2008): 74-91.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. Twelfth Night. Boston; New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1928. Print.

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Twelfth Night – Orsino

April 24, 2020 by Essay Writer

In William Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night, Orsino, is a dramatic, moody, love fool that pines away for the stunning Lady Olivia (who wants nothing to do with him) for most of the play but ends up with the beautiful cross-dressing Viola. Orsino is a wealthy bachelor that has the role of power as the Duke of Illyria. He seems lazy and doesn’t want to do anything for himself, which, puts emphasis on his class in society.

We get our first look at the Duke in the opening scene and its pretty telling, Shakespeare writes:

If music be the food of love, play on,

Give me excess of it; that, surfeiting,

The appetite may sicken and so die.

That strain again;it had a dying fall;

O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound,

That breathes upon a bank of violets,

Stealing and giving odor.Enough; no more;

‘Tis not so sweet now as it was before. (2)

Orsino commands his musicians to play because the music feeds his desire for love, then interrupts and demands that they stop, saying, Enough; no more / ‘Tis not so sweet as it was before (2). This quote tells us that Orsino is dramatic in his words, powerful, self-absorbed, and a bit moody.

Orsino says he’s in love with Olivia but there’s evidence that he is really not. When he shares his thoughts on when he first saw Olivia, Shakespeare writes, That instant was I turned into a hart; / And my desires, like fell and cruel hounds, / E’er since pursue me (2-3). Orsino said he was turned into a hart (a deer) and he was pursued or hunted by his desires, which were like the hounds. Orsino doesn’t imagine Olivia in this pursuit as much as he fixates on the pursuit of himself in the fantasy. Notably, there are a lot of personal pronouns spoken, me, my, and I when the Duke speaks. The Duke is more about himself than Olivia.

In movie, She’s the Man, Duke Orsino doesn’t even appear in the movie until is well under way. The movie is more Viola/Sebastian driven and Duke has very little lines compared to its Shakespeare counterpart. Duke doesn’t come across as dramatic and he is still the love fool who pines away for Olivia. He really puts the fool in love fool because Duke gets tongue-tied, he’s bumbling and can’t speak more than a couple words when Olivia is in the vicinity.

Viola Hastings is a girl who plays soccer for the Cornwall College team until her team gets cut. Her twin brother, Sebastian, is enrolled at Illyria but skips out when his band gets a gig in London. Viola then decides that she’s going to prove that girls are just as good as boys and decides to join the team at Illyria, as her brother Sebastian so she can beat the Cornwall team.

Our first look at Duke in the movie, is when Sebastian/Viola makes her way to the campus of Illyria. Duke is in his dorm room along with his two buddies. They don’t take very well to Sebastian and as for first impressions go, Sebastian doesn’t make that great of one. Duke is the soccer team’s striker and acts as though he is better than Sebastian. Sebastian asks Duke when the soccer tryouts are, and Duke responds, Noon, you play? And gives an incredulous look toward Sebastian. Duke and his buddies make fun of Sebastian.

Duke says he is in love with Olivia in this movie, but is he? Here too, shows evidence that he truly may not be. You must delve a little further into the movie. Duke meets Viola at the school carnival when he buys tickets for the kissing booth, that Olivia is working at. Viola relieves Olivia from her shift right before it would be Duke’s turn for the kissing. Olivia leaves much to Duke’s dismay but is attracted to Viola and becomes a bumbling mess. Later, Duke and Sebastian are at the gym working out, Duke tells Sebastian that he wants to ask Viola out to dinner but when Olivia decides to try to make Sebastian jealous by asking Duke to dinner, Duke once again bumbling and takes Olivia up on her offer.

Olivia: So do you have plans tonight?

Duke: I’m free…

Duke to Sebastian: I’m going out with Oliviaaaa

Sabastian: I thought you liked Viola?

Duke: Dude, c’mon what would you do?

If Duke truly was in love with Olivia, why did he enjoy kissing Viola so much? The gym scene really shows how fickle Duke is, going from wanting to ask Viola out for dinner to Olivia asking him out for dinner and he so quickly forgets Viola.

In the She’s the Man, Duke seems to be less self-absorbed but more sensitive. There are less me’s, I’s, and mine’s. Duke is also there for a little comedic relief. The movie is also very Viola/Sebastian centric. We follow their perspective the entire time and there’s very little supporting character story or intervention.

In, Twelfth Night, its central story is the Viola/Sebastian, Orsino, Olivia love triangle, we see more perspectives in the changing of the scenes. The cast of supporting characters have their own side stories going on that are just as entertaining as the main story. It makes the play seem so much larger.

In conclusion, Shakespeare’s comedy, Twelfth Night and the light-hearted teen movie She’s the Man, have many lessons to be taken away. Be yourself and love is sometimes tragedy.

Cited Works:

Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night Or What You Will. McAllister Editions, 2015.

She’s the Man. Directed by Andy Fickman, written by Ewan Leslie, Karen McCullah Lutz, and Kirsten Smith, performances by Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum, DreamWorks, 2006.

Twelfth Night, or What You Will

Shmoop Editorial Team –

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Gender in “Twelfth Night”

April 24, 2020 by Essay Writer

In Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night, we are introduced to romantic comedy and romantic play as one of the main focuses. Even though this play has a happy ending resulting in the various lovers finding one another and getting married. Shakespeare shows us that this play is also a story of homoerotisism.

In this analytical essay I will be focusing on the gender roles in this play and how gender causes a sexual mess between characters. It is argued that William Shakespeare was bisexual himself (an analysis of his sonnet 18) which could possibly tie into the reasoning for this theme in Twelfth Night. More than any other Shakespearean play, the characters in Twelfth Night display a remarkable degree of gender and sexual ambiguity.

Twelfth Night self-consciously creates humor and enjoyment for the audience out of the possibility of same sex attraction. In Twelfth Night we see how Viola dresses as the male Cesario to try and get into Orsino’s court. During the Elizabethan period women were not allowed to act professionally, and female parts were often performed by men, So Viola would have actually been a male actor dressing as a woman who was dressing as a man. The casting for this would have been a younger male who had feminine like features due to the fact that Cesario had very feminine features

Gender is one of the most obvious and much-discussed topics in the play. This could be argued by people that Twelfth Night is one of Shakespeare’s so-called transvestite comedy plays because a female is disguising herself as a man. Which as a result causes a very very rough sexual mess between the characters. We see Viola falling in love with Orsino, but she can’t say anything about it because she is supposed to be a man. Orsino is in love with Olivia, which turns to Olivia falling for Viola who is disguised as Cesario. Which over the course of reading this play opens up the homoerotic subtext in the play, which is you didn’t guess is Olivia falling in love with a woman (even if she thinks that Viola is a man). Something else that is brought to our attention is the fact that Orsino is constantly talking about Cesario’s beauty which suggests to the reader that he could be attracted to Viola eben before her male disguise is taken off. This homoeroticism is also echoed in the minor character Antonio who is very, very clearly in love with Sebastien.

Even at the end of the play we are left in a fog of confusion especially focusing in the relationship of Orsino and Viola. I believe that when Orsino declares his love for Viola it suggests that hr likes to prolong the pretense of Violas masculinity. This is even after the fact that he knows about Viola being a woman he says to her Boy, thou hast said to mr a thousand times / Thou never should’st love woman like me (V.i. 260-261) He also then says in his last few lines is Orcino declares Cesario, come- / For so you shall be while you are a man; / But when in other habits you are seen. / Orsino’s mistress, and his fancy’s queen (V.i. 372-375) . This shows us that even when everything is out in the open, Orsino continues to address Viola by her male name of Cesario. We can only wonder if Orsino is really in love with Viola it is he is more interested in her male persona.

Viola was able to shed the societal expectations by disguising herself as a man. In the article written by Casey Charles it states that this theme of same sex is neither a uncomplicated promotion of a modern category of sexual orientation nor, from a more traditional perspective, as an ultimately contained representation of the licensed misrule of saturnalia. In Twelfth Night the representation of homoerotic attractions functions rather as a means of dramatizing the socially constructed basis of a sexuality that is determined by gender identity. Within the context of early modern theatrical culture, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night functions as a dramatic critique of the ideal norm of imperative heterosexuality in three interrelated ways. First, the effects of Viola’s cross-dressing point to the socially constructed nature of gender in Shakespeare’s play. Secondly, Shakespeare’s drama interrogates the exclusionary nature of the constructed categories of sex and challenges the symbolic hegemony of heterosexuality by producing representations or “”citations”” of same-sex love between Viola and Olivia as well as Antonio and Sebastian. Lastly, I will argue that the final act, through a series of improbable turns of plot and phrase, exposes the failure of heterosexual “”regimes ever fully to legislate or contain their own ideals.””

The homoerotic element of the play, while troubling and disruptive in its dramatic development, may not have the power in this final scene to overcome fully the symbolic dictates of compulsory heterosexuality, at least from a perspective of formal kinship relations. Yet even if homoeroticism triumphed in Twelfth Night and Viola walked off stage arm-in-arm with Olivia and Sebastian with Antonio, the problems of the irrationality of desire and the instability of identity would not vanish. Desire is not erased by the successful disruption of gender boundaries; it continues to haunt the subject despite the performance of the most fantastic of love’s imaginings. Yet the interminable nature of desire and the fantasies of love that are desire’s dialectical counterpart serve as important catalysts for the subversion and displacement “”of those naturalized and reified notions of gender that support masculine hegemony and heterosexist power”” through strategies of gender trouble. The play stresses that gender is something that can be influenced or that one can influence based on how you act, rather than something you are based on the genitalia you are born with.

In conclusion the theme of gender relations in Twelfth Night is seen because even in culture today men and women are treated differently based on their genders no matter the type of person they are inside or attitude wise. The theme of gender in Twelfth Night allows the readers to see that nothing can stop how a person feels for someone else. This taboo idea of same sex relationships have been frowned upon from the beginning of time and it is only till recently that they are beginning to be accepted even a little bit. Shakespeare is opening that can of demons that are still affecting many people in the LGBT community today, only difference is today we are making the change, people are dressing freely the same as they are loving freely and nothing will stop that. Shakespeare’s legacy continues to influence the modern culture because his plays were based on themes that any person reading them can easily relate to, and continue to relate to even till this day. Shakespeare’s universal themes will always be talked about in every generation for many years to come.


Charles, Casey. Gender Trouble in ‘Twelfth Night.’ Theatre Journal, vol. 49, no. 2, 1997, pp. 121“141. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. Twelfth Night. Boston ; New York :Houghton Mifflin, 1928. Print.

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Homosexuality in “Twelfth Night”

April 24, 2020 by Essay Writer

In modern society, homosexuality is a highly controversial topic. While nations are making progress towards equal rights, seventy-three countries still view same-sex relations as illegal. However, today’s society is far more progressive than Medieval England where homosexuality was strictly frowned upon by law, and perpetrators received a wide variety of severe punishments, ranging from exile to the death sentence.

Even though society was against the idea of homosexuality, Shakespeare explores the concept that homosexuality is not morally incorrect and it is an innate characteristic that one does not choose; instead, it is a characteristic that you are born with and discover about yourself as time goes on. Critics of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, such as Jami Ake in her article Glimpsing a ‘Lesbian’ Poetics in Twelfth Night, often focus on the prevalence of homosexual relations between characters in this post-Renaissance time period. Her argument that homoerotic relations are prevalent in Twelfth Night is corroborated by the relationships of Duke Orsino and Cesario as well as Viola and Olivia. Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night uses dramatic irony, imagery, and characterization to suggest that homosexuality is not morally incorrect.

In this play, Duke Orsino falls in love with Olivia but she swears off men while she is mourning the loss of her brother. Viola, who disguises herself as a man, Cesario, starts to work at Orsino’s house. While serving the Duke, Viola falls in love with him but can’t pursue the love because Orsino believes that she is a man. Orsino and Viola become closer and Orsino confides in Viola to take love messages to Olivia. However, Olivia, who has sworn off men, falls for Viola, who she thinks is Cesario. In the end, Olivia ends up marrying Sebastian, Viola’s twin brother and Orsino marries Viola, after finding out that she was disguised as Cesario the whole time.

Duke Orsino and Cesario’s relationship clearly depicts homoeroticity in the play. By rejecting Olivia, Viola shows her desire for the Duke, stating State is only desperate for her master’s love. This quotation depicts that Viola is interested in Orsino. In the other side, Orsino also develops feelings for Viola, who is disguised as Cesario. The Duke gives Cesario the important job of wooing Olivia on his behalf. He trusts Cesario with persuading Olivia to love the Duke which shows how close they had gotten. In this letter, Duke Orsino states:

Dear lad, believe it;

For they shall yet belie thy happy years

That say thou art a man. Diana’s lip

Is not more smooth and rubious, thy small pipe

Is as the maiden’s organ, shrill and sound,

And all is semblative a woman’s part. (1.5.32-37)

In this letter, Orsino shows how he truly views Cesario and how he is attracted to him. While it is true that straight people can find characteristics of people with the same gender attractive, they usually don’t gush about it. Orsino illustrates how he finds Cesario’s lips more rubious and smooth than Diana’s and how his features are semblative [of] a woman’s part. The descriptions he uses to describe Cesario shows the romantic and sexual tension he feels for Cesario. Orsino is attracted to aspects of Cesario.

While it is evident that Orsino has feelings for Cesario throughout the play, his love only becomes open when he discovers Cesario is of the opposite gender. His attraction for Cesario becomes clear in Act V when he finds out that Cesario is, in fact, Viola. After Viola’s identity is displayed, it is still evident that Orsino has an erotic interest in Cesario because he continues to refer to her as Cesario.

Cesario, come;

For so you shall be, while you are a man;

But when in other habits you are seen,

Orsino’s mistress and his fancy’s queen (5.1.30).

Even after Cesario comes out as Viola, Orsino still refers to her as Cesario. This proves that he is more comfortable with Cesario than Viola and makes it unclear who he is truly attracted to. Before Viola’s identity was revealed, Orsino didn’t openly convey his feelings because he was scared of society. When he found out that Cesario was a female, it gave him permission to be attracted to Cesario without society’s criticism. This proves that Orsino loves the boy in Cesario more than the woman in Viola.

In addition to Duke Orsino and Cesario, Olivia and Viola also depict homosexuality and homoeroticism. Even though Olivia had plans to reject off men for several years while she was mourning the death of her brother, she is still attracted to Cesario.

Thy tongue, thy face, thy limbs, actions and spirit,

Do give thee five-fold blazon: not too fast: soft, soft!

Unless the master were the man. How now!

Even so quickly may one catch the plague (1.5.48)?

Olivia is attracted to Cesario’s feminine features, especially thy tongue, thy face, thy limbs. In Act II, Malvolio delivers a ring to Cesario on behalf of Olivia, showing that Olivia had fallen in love with Cesario. In the end, Olivia marries Sebastian, thinking that he is Cesario, when he is in fact Viola’s twin brother.

Both couples demonstrate homosexuality and homoeroticism in Twelfth Night. Orsino is attracted to Cesario but refrains from expressing his feelings openly until he finds out that Cesario is actually a female, Viola. AfterViola’s true identity is revealed, Orsino is more comfortable with expressing his true feelings but still refers to her as Cesario, showing that he fell in love with Cesario not Viola. Furthermore, Olivia shows this pull towards someone of the same sex. From the way Olivia describes Cesario’s features, it is evident that Olivia is attracted to the physical and emotional qualities of Viola rather than Orsino’s masculine qualities. While medical society was against the idea of homosexuality, Shakespeare effectively portraits that having relations with someone of the same sex is not a crime. His risk in writing this play in contrast to society’s beliefs shows that he was a more open thinker and ahead of his time. It’s possible that other plays of Shakespeare’s show this progressive idea as well as others.

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Romantic Comedy in Twelfth Night

April 24, 2020 by Essay Writer

Romance and comedy are both very important parts of what makes the play, Twelfth Night, entertaining and fun to watch. This story from William Shakespeare is classified as a Romantic Comedy play. Comedy should entertain a general audience; a romantic comedy is classified as a play that deals with love in a light yet humorous way.

It is usually a dramatic work that is light, and often set in a satirical tone (a literary work in which sarcasm is used to entertain). Twelfth Night is believed to have been written around 1601“1602 as twelfth night’s entertainment for the close of the Christmas season. The play is centered on twins Viola and Sebastian, who are separated in a shipwreck. William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor who was widely regarded as both the greatest writer in the English language. The audience at a comedy is likely to feel slightly superior, and distant from the comic figures. In the Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare uses different literary devices along with romance and comedy to present to his audience different types of humor through a specific character named Sir Toby Belch. Sir Toby Belch, who is a funny drunkard, is not the smartest person and he also causes trouble throughout the play.

Sir Toby Belch is a character in Shakespeare’s, Twelfth Night. At the beginning of the play, Sir Toby is said the be the Lord of the Misrule, who was appointed to manage the Christmas festivities held at court during this time of celebration. Sir Toby Belch is fair lady Olivia’s uncle in this romantic comedy play. Sir Toby is funny yet embarrassing when he is drunk. Sir Toby Belch lives with his niece Olivia. Olivia is a beautiful Illyria lady, and she does not approve of his heavy drinking problem. Sir Toby partakes in this behavior along with his friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Sir Andrew is the type of character who thinks highly of himself, but he is not the smartest character. Some might even say he is dumb. Sir Toby takes advantage of Sir Andrew Aguecheek using constant flattery and making Sir Andrew believe that he can win Olivia’s hand in marriage. Olivia is sad throughout the play because she lost her brother. But because of her wealth and her beauty she is loved by several men, all of which want to marry her. Thought-out the play different men would try and get Olivia to marry them, and Orsino ends up proposing to Olivia. The fighting over Olivia can also contribute to the romantic comedy of the play. Sir Toby knows that Sir Andrew is a fool and a coward, but he continues to be his friend because they can be dumb together which makes the comedy in the play even better. Sir Toby states Never trust me, then. And by all means stir on the young to an answer. I think oxen and wainropes cannot hale them together. For Andrew, if he were opened and you find so much blood in his liver as will clog the foot of a flea, I’ll eat the rest of the anatomy (Act 3, Scene 2, lines 53-57). This states that Sir Toby thinks that Sir Andrew is not the smartest person, and he uses his comedy to show how much he thinks this is true. This also shows how he uses his humor to connect with the audience and keep them interested as the play goes on. The humor of Sir Toby and Sir Andrew continues through-out the play.

I hate a drunken rogue (Act 5, Scene 1, lines 198). These are ironic words coming from Sir Toby Belch, who provides most of the humor in Twelfth Night and is best described as a drunk. We are first introduced to Sir Toby in Act 1, scene 3 when Maria is chiding him for disturbing Olivia’s household with his nightly drinking, late hours, and the poor company he keeps. Maria is Olivia’s gentlewoman. While Maria is trying to keep Sir Toby from being stubborn like he is Sir Toby states, Confine? I’ll confine myself no finer than I am. These clothes are good enough to drink in, and so be these boots too- an’ they be not, let them hang themselves in their own straps! (Act 1, Scene 3, lines 9-12). In this quotation Sir Toby uses puns and a metaphor saying that the boots should hang themselves with their straps giving the word hang a double meaning. This is humorous as he is using many forms of phrasing that the audience in Shakespearean times would have found hilarious. This may not necessarily be funny in the current 21st century, but this is still funny today, just maybe not as funny as it was then. The audience has a lot to do with how funny the play was. Many people would not go to see a play like the Twelfth Night today just because it is not what people are interested in. The atmosphere also contributes to the play and how the audience reacts to the play. During the 17th century plays are in outdoor theaters called globe theaters.

Sir Toby has many flaws that one might could say shine brightly throughout the play. He is also very unpredictable, which is shown when he marries Maria even though she is Olivia’s gentlewoman and is below Sir Toby’s noble class. The noble classes during this period are very important. Noble classes are different classifications from rich, middle, and poor. Most of the time, people do not marry outside of their noble classes, but in the play Sir Toby marries Maria. It is also funny to the audience that Sir Toby marries a gentlewoman. A gentlewoman is a woman who is good to her family, smart, and has good manners. This is humorous to the audience because Sir Toby is the complete opposite in the fact that he has terrible manners and is not that smart. Sir Toby and Maria are married by the end of the play. Sir Toby marries Maria to make Malvolio jealous which makes Malvolio mad because he thought that Maria loved him. Sir Toby can be summed up by this line, Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ales (Act 2, Scene 3, lines 114-115). This line shows that Sir Toby plans to live his life the way he chooses to, and he basically is saying that no one can stop him or try to make him live any other way. This is just the type of person that Sir Toby is through the play. Throughout the entire play Sir Toby does not let people tell him what to do. This is mostly because he thinks that he is smart and as it has been stated before he is not that smart, he is mostly a drunk.

Twelfth Night is a romantic comedy play wrote by William Shakespeare around 1601“1602 as entertainment for the close of the Christmas season. This wonderful play by Shakespeare is a romantic comedy which is a play that deals with love in a light yet humorous way. Shakespeare has written many different plays, but this one is more humorous than any of the others. There are several characters in this play that are humorous, but Sir Toby Belch sticks out the most. Sir Toby’s personality is like a comedian by the way he keeps the audience laughing as the play goes on. He is also good at the creation of problems with his unique yet strange personality. Sir Toby is the most enjoyable character in the entire play. It might be argued that Sir Toby has a very irresponsible and nature, which may come across as an unattractive aspect of his character throughout the play. In the Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare uses different ways of humor to make up this romantic comedy play. Much of the humor in Twelfth Night comes from Sir Toby Belch, Sir Toby Belch is a funny drunk who mostly causes problems and keep the play humorous.

Work Cited

Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, edited by Stephen Greenblatt et al, ed. 9, vol. B, W.W. Norton & Company, 2012, pp. 1189-1250.

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Romantic Love Causes Several Characters to Behave Foolishly in the Twelfth Night

April 24, 2020 by Essay Writer

Alyssa To Ms. DeBartolo English 3U Nov 14, 2018 TOPIC: Romantic love causes several characters to behave foolishly in the Twelfth Night. Explore 3 examples of foolish behavior brought on by romantic love.

TWELFTH NIGHT Love represents a universal feeling, love intentionally causes pain, love is mad, foolish and love is typically a cause of suffering. In William Shakespeare’s successful comedy, Twelfth Night, every unique character in the story experiences the specific form and feeling of love. They are blind for love and their hearts fool their minds. At the first place, the Duke of Illyria who is Orsino instantly falls in love with Olivia, a wealthy countess at first sight. However, Olivia is in mourning for her dead brother for the next seven years. Therefore, she refuses Orsino’s love multiple times but he nevertheless trying to cultivate her. However, she rejects his passionate love all the time. Even though Orsino cannot receive Olivia’s love, he still loves her as much as he can. For instance, when he knows by heart that Olivia is in mourning for her beloved brother, Orsino indeed want to kill all of the emotions inside her except for loving him. This fact is accurately shown when Orsino says thoughtfully that, Oh if she loves her brother this much, think how she’ll love me when I finally win her over and make her forget all her other attachments! Her mind and heart will be ruled by one man alone”me! Take me to the garden. I need a beautiful place to sit and think about love (Act 1, Scene 1).

He constantly desires her to be happy and hopes that one day she will discover and accept his love. Besides, he also sends his loyal servant – Cesario, to send the love letter to Olivia and politely tell her how deep is his sincere love for her. Even when he knows his love may be rejecting the next time, but he tries finding many different ways to make her love him. One more remarkable thing that shows Orsino’s foolishness when he is in love is when Olivia calls Cesario husband. At the time, he gets exasperated and thinks that Cesario is properly a liar, forsaken him to have Olivia as a lifelong lover. In addition, he merely wants to kill Cesario and the dear one he appreciates who is Olivia because of love and jealousy. Furthermore, he thinks Cesario captures his place in Olivia’s heart. His anger is shown when he said: Maybe I should act like the Egyptian thief who kills the woman he loves before he dies? That kind of savage jealousy sometimes seems noble. But listen to me. Since you keep denying the love, I feel for you, and since I know who’s stealing my place in your heart, you can go on being cold-hearted, but I’m going to take this boy from you. He knows his master loves you. I’m doing this, even though he’s dear to me because I know you love him. Come with me, boy. I’m ready to do something extreme. I’ll sacrifice this boy I care for, just to spite a beautiful woman with a heart of stone (Act 5, Scene 1). At the start, in his mind, love is beautiful and so restless. On the other hand, the unrequited love brings him obsession and madness. Just as Orsino, Olivia is also in love at the first sight with Orsino’s servant.

The specific reason is she is in mourning for her dead brother, she announces everyone that no one can see her for the next seven years. Incidentally, she ignores her speech until she meets Cesario. While talking with Cesario, she allows him to see her face and starts to have some feeling for him. After talking, she politely asks Cesario to be back to talk to her next time. In addition, she gives Malvolio a ring and informs him to deliver it to Cesario which stands for a token of love. To put it another way, she says, Run after that obnoxious messenger, the duke’s servant. He insisted on leaving this ring with me whether I wanted it or not. Tell him I want nothing to do with it. (she hands him a ring) Ask him not to encourage Orsino or to get his hopes up. I’m not for him. If that young man comes here again tomorrow, I’ll tell him why. Hurry, Malvolio(Act 1, Scene 5). Unfortunately, Cesario does not want to receive the ring, he tells him to give it back to Olivia because the ring is not his. In fact, that seems to represent the first rejection of Olivia’s love and it naturally causes Olivia to act foolishly. Not only that, there is one time that she confesses her love to Cesario, but he continues to reject her love. Cesario explains she should love his master, Orsino experiences a deep love for her by saying that, Madam, I’ve come here to try to make you like him (Act 3, Scene 1). After that, Cesario tells her that he does not love her and no woman can have his heart.

Instead of stops loving him, Olivia is trying to have his heart because she believes that Orsino is the reason that Cesario does not dare to love her. She is hopelessly in love, her love becomes blindness when she quickly marries Sebastian, who she has mistaken for Cesario. After begging Sebastian to marry her, she calls a priest to witness their marriage by saying that, Then lead the way, father. I want the skies bright and shining to show its approval of our wedding(Act 4, Scene 3). To sum up, Olivia falls in love easily and quickly, because of that she cannot realize the one she loves and makes a mistake by married a wrong one. One more example about foolish through love is Malvolio, the household servant of Olivia. He loves nobody, but himself; he is confident and always thinks he is more admirable than everyone. As a result, people hate that personality of him and everyone in the house reasonably wants to make a joke to prank him. After some discussion, a love letter is dropped on the path to the garden which has been written by Maria. At that moment, Malvolio reads it and instantly starts to think Olivia sends this love letter to him. From that, he starts acting foolishly, and he believes he can win Olivia’s heart by those idiot behaviors. A self-loving like Malvolio believes he can have the power all over the servant and even Sir Toby.

Also, he thinks he will get rid of his lower-class friends, insults Sir Toby and be a perfect man for Olivia. The next day, he starts following what the letter requires, he wears a yellow stocking and the crisscross laces on his leg. Thus, he comes and talks to Olivia which he trusts he can please his special master when he said, Sad, my lady! I could be sad if I wanted to be. These crisscrossing laces do cut off the circulation in my legs a bit, but who cares? As the sonnet says, If you please one special person, you please everyone who matters (Act 3, Scene 4). She thinks he is mad because of his strange actions, and he is talking nonsense. While Olivia is talking, he just smiles and kisses his hand which is completely insane. As a matter of fact, he is locked in the darkroom because of his madness. However, he still believes his master will help him out of that place because she loves him. The fact is shown when he asks Feste, Be a nice fool and help me find a candle and some paper. I tell you, I’m as sane as any man in Illyria (Act 4, Scene 2).

He asks Feste to bring those things, so he can write a letter to ask for help from Olivia because he still believes Olivia is deeply in love with him. In a final analysis, love and his ambition cause many consequences for him. Love drives people crazy and Malvolio is also a victim of love who acts foolishly throughout the play. Love is a hurtful experience, and an unrequited love is more painful than ever. Even when the play Twelfth Night has a happy ending but those characters have an unrequited love and they can not have the one they desire at first. Their unconditional love causing suffering for themselves and also causes them to behave foolishly when they are falling in love. (Shakespeare, William, and Alan Durband. Twelfth Night. Oxford University Press, 2014.)

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Love at Play with Deception in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

April 24, 2020 by Essay Writer

Shakespeare’s plays tend to revolve around certain themes. As a comedy, Twelfth Night is no exception as it centers around relationships that end in marriage. Shakespeare considers the theme of love through the various relationships he sets up.

Throughout the play, these relationships are ever-changing as characters reveal their truths and dishonesties. Through the development of love between the characters of Olivia, Orsino, Viola/Cesario, and Sebastian, the theme of deception makes itself known as these characters are fooled by appearances. As some characters fall for deception while others are actively participating in it, each love is influenced by it, causing it to either crumble or continue, changing the couplings around. As Shakespeare creates this interweaving connection of love and deception, he makes deliberate choices for the character’s fate in the world of love and marriage.

Since their fictional fate is at his hands, by doing so, he is suggesting that certain relationships are necessary to end for others to begin. In Twelfth Night, with the use of deception, Shakespeare swayed his characters into their appropriately matched relationships and out of the ones that were wrong or mismatched for them. In this play, Shakespeare created a storyline that illuminated the mismatched nature of the relationships in Illyria. This can be seen clearly through Duke Orsino’s love for Olivia. While they are similar in nature and in status, they are clearly not meant for one another as Shakespeare displays the unanswered nature of Orsino’s love. Orsino is blinded by his own love for her as she refuses to give in to his sentiments. This is a clear mismatch of people considering Orsino’s inability to fully recognize and respect her period of mourning after the loss of her father and brother. Both Orsino and Olivia seem to thoroughly enjoy creating a bubble of drama around oneself. As Orsino is fully committed to wasting away in his pursuit of Olivia’s heart, Olivia feels like same in her mourning. This relationship lacks the element of deception that Shakespeare plays with in others, possibly hinting at the necessity for some sort of deceit in order for romance to blossom. Though Orsino and Olivia fail to be connected by love’s deceptive grasp, there are some very misleading loves at play in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, such as the unrequited love Olivia has for Cesario/Viola.

The use of deception can be seen clearly in this instance as Viola transforms herself into a male under the name of Cesario. This disguise causes Olivia to fall for him/her, but Olivia’s love is not returned. Shakespeare’s use of deception through disguise allows Cesario/Viola’s kind and introspective nature to attract Olivia’s attention. Cesario/Viola says: Make me a willow cabin at your gate And call upon my soul within the house, Write loyal cantons of contemned love, And sing them loud even in the dead of night; Hallow your name to the reverberate hills, And make the babbling gossip of the air Cry out ‘Olivia!’ O, you should not rest Between the elements of air and earth But you should pity me. (I.v.237“245) In this moment, Cesario is showing his/her Viola side as he/she tells Olivia what his/her course of action would be if he/she were in Orsino’s place. In this way, Shakespeare furthers the deceit in his/her disguise as Olivia falls for his/her womanly nature when in contrast to Orsino’s approach. In some lights, Olivia also has a deceptive role as she uses her interactions with Cesario/Viola to step away from mourning in order to better experience her lustful feelings. This deception ultimately attracts Olivia out of her protective shell in order to put her in a better place for her actual fated lover, Sebastian.

Viola/Cesario is involved in the love of both Olivia and Orsino, making her a key character in Shakespeare’s use of deceptive play in order to thwart the relationships that aren’t working or see no end. His/her appearance disguises his/her true self from the two of them. As Cesario/Viola attempts to evade Olivia’s growing love, he/she is becoming closer to Duke Orsino who is also being deceived, causing he too to be tricked by her guise. Orsino and Viola begin displaying signs of love even before Viola’s true identity is revealed. Orsino himself shows interest in Viola through conversation with Cesario. In a slightly flirtatious tone, he asks about Viola’s age and nature, though it is unclear if the flirting is directed at Cesario or Viola (I.iv). At one point, Viola, so caught up with Orsino says to herself, My state is desperate for my master’s love as she too is experiencing a love unable to be returned in her current state (II.ii.35). This allows the reader to notice and compare this relationship to that of Orsino’s love for Olivia. As Orsino grows closer to Cesario/Viola, it is made clear that they are better suited for one another. Shakespeare makes Cesario/Viola the character who is actively participating in the deception of both Olivia and Orsino, giving her the choice.

While it is unlikely in Shakespeare’s time to give a character the choice of a homosexual relationship, it is possible Shakespeare used it for dramatic effect or to better show off the ill-fated nature of Olivia’s love for Cesario/Viola and Orsino for he/she as well. Either way, both the relationship between Olivia and Cesario/Viola and Orsino and Cesario/Viola creates a sometimes confusing mix of love and sexual attraction towards a member of the same sex. Though Olivia immediately falls for Viola as she is disguised as Cesario, she ultimately ends up marrying a person she knows nothing about, Sebastian. Shakespeare illuminates the positive match between these two as Sebastion is willing and ready to accept Olivia’s love, unlike his disguised sister. He recognizes the deception at play yet still remains ready to marry (IV.iii.20-21). This is the one relationship that doesn’t display a deep amount of thought in the pairing and seems to be fairly convenient for the happy ending. But Olivia was unsatisfied with love until she met the female version of Sebastian. While their appearance is interestingly similar, her unrequited love for one turns into requited love from the other. Through Viola’s disguise and their strange likeness, they almost become one, making the pairing of Sebastion and Olivia fatefully satisfying. In the end, the mess of relationships Shakespeare intertwined throughout the story is all beautifully untangled as each of the relationships ends in marriage and they all end up seemingly happy.

While this may seem like a fairy tale ending or a quick plot convenience, each couple is now adequately matched according to the master of this play’s fate. Shakespeare reconciles the imbalance of love in these relationships to show that through the use of deception and some trickery, requited love can be found for all four characters. Through the similarities of the brother and sister, Sebastian and Viola become the perfect lovers for Olivia and Orsino. Once their guise is down, the love is free to enter. Perhaps this is to say that sometimes people do not know what is best for them and love deceives in order to be right by fate, if one believes in such things. It is possible Shakespeare is hinting that deception in love as a good thing for relationships. Is he making a case against love itself or merely recognizing the subtle ways it intertwines with the act of lying? It’s possible he’s suggesting that love cannot be formed without a bit of trickery in order to convince one to fall in love. For is there any real love without at least a little falsehood? The roles of deceit and deception quite possibly play into the idea that humans are never satisfied with good and sometimes create dramatic situations in order for their life to be more fulfilling. Perhaps Shakespeare is commenting on how it is human nature to make things more exciting or emotional in order to better one’s human experience.

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The Transformative Power of the Character of Sebastian in “Twelfth Night”

September 3, 2019 by Essay Writer

The character of Sebastian in “Twelfth Night” represents the dynamic factor in an otherwise static equation. Illyria is an immutable place, and the people who live and visit the land become ensnared in a stasis. Shakespeare uses the device of twins to resolve the static tension in “Twelfth Night”. Separated at sea, the twins end up shipwrecked in Illyria, each believing the other has perished. The first sibling, Viola, falls into the stasis that permeates Illyria. It is not until she is reconciled with her brother, Sebastian, that the stasis is dissolved.As we learn from the character of Proteus in Shakespeare’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona”, the sea has transformative powers. Another of Proteus’s powers is his ability to change shapes. In “Twelfth Night”, Shakespeare applies both themes to Viola and Sebastian. As twins, they represent two halves of a whole. Separated, they are both powerless; reunited, they have the power to control their own destinies and break the static tension of Illyria.The “static tension” in Illyria is most obviously manifested in the grid-locked situation of Duke Orsino’s unrequited love for the Countess Olivia. Orsino pines for the Countess, but she is lost in mourning for her brother, and has sworn herself from the company of men for seven year’s time. All other Illyrian characters in the play serve either Orsino or Olivia, and are thus pulled into the vacuum of their stagnant situation. When Viola is shipwrecked on the shores of Illyria and decides to disguise herself as a man, she falls into the trap. Although she loves Orsino, she cannot reveal herself to him, because he believes she is a man. It is not until her brother, Sebastian, appears in Illyria, that things begin to change.Sebastian’s character is surrounded by a motif of sea-imagery. The first mention of Sebastian is in Act I, Scene II, when Viola laments for the loss of her brother. The Captain, in an attempt to comfort her, alludes to the mythological figure Arion: in classic mythology, Arion was a famous musician (music is another prominent theme in “Twelfth Night”) who escaped certain death by murder aboard a ship by diving overboard, lyre in hand. Hearing the beautiful melody, dolphins came to his rescue and carried him ashore. In Act II, Scene I, when Sebastian and Antonio are washed ashore, Sebastian refers to the sea as the power, which has separated his life from his sister’s: “[we were] both born in an hour. If the heavens had been pleased, we would so had ended. But you sir, altered that, for some hour before you took me from the breach of the sea my sister was drowned” (2.1.17-20).The operative dynamic that first begins to disturb the ceaseless stasis of Illyria begins when Antonio and Sebastian are separated in Act III, Scene III. Sebastian wishes to explore the city; Antonio cannot safely accompany him on the streets of Illyria, due to his involvement in a sea-fight (3.3.26). Antonio, however, is the only variable that distinguishes Sebastian from Viola, who, disguised as a man, is almost identical to her twin brother.In the following scene (Act III, Scene IV) Antonio mistakes Viola (as Cesario) for Sebastian, attempts to defend her in a brawl, and is incarcerated as result. When Viola refuses him the purse for which he implores her (and which he lent to Sebastian) he is confused and hurt by her refusal. After he has gone, Viola reflects: He named Sebastian. I my brother knowYet living in my glass. Even such and soIn favor was my brother, and he wentStill in this fashion, color, ornament,For him I imitate. O, if it prove,Tempests are kind, and salt waves fresh in love! (3.4.366-371).In this lyrical passage, Shakespeare alludes to the changeable powers of the sea, manifested in Viola and Sebastian. Viola also foreshadows her reunion with her brother. Moreover, the dual identity of the figure that appears to be one and the same in Sebastian and Viola – Cesario – ignites a dynamic changeability that effects the other characters in Illyria. The major changes begin to occur in Act IV, Scene I, when Olivia mistakes Sebastian for Cesario. She implores him to come with her, and he responds, “What relish is in this? How runs the stream?/ Or I am mad, or else this is a dream./ Let fancy still my sense in Lethe steep./ If it be thus to dream, still let me sleep” (4.1.58-61). As Feste articulates in Act II, Scene IV, the sea makes one’s destination “everywhere, for that’s it that always makes a good voyage of nothing” (2.4.76-7). The change here from sea to stream imagery (as in, “How runs the stream?” and “Lethe”, which is the “mythical river of oblivion”) thus implies a newfound sense of direction in the play. This imagamatic language employed by Sebastian parallels the conceptual development of the plot. Now that Olivia has Sebastian to focus her attentions on, the static situation, which previously dominated, will be overthrown. Sebastian can requite Olivia’s love, a task that had been impossible for Viola, as Cesario. Also, with her brother present, Viola will be able to reveal her true identity. Thus, Orsino can break off his love for Olivia, when he realizes that love for Viola (to whom, as Cesario, he is already greatly attached) is possible. Sebastian foreshadows this multitude of events as “a flood of fortune” (4.3.11). This “flood of fortune,” eventually comes to pass in Act V, Scene I when, amidst a myriad of sea references, Viola and Sebastian’s identities are revealed, each taking on their own shape, and dissolving the static tension. Both believed that they alone had survived the wrath of the stormy sea, whilst the other had been drowned. On seeing Viola, an astonished Sebastian asks, “I had a sister,/ Whom the blind waves and surges have devoured./ Of charity, what kin are you to me?” (5.1.226-8). Viola replies, “Sebastian was my brother… /So went he suited to this watery tomb” (5.1.231-2). By reconciling their true identities with themselves and establishing for the other characters that they are in fact two separate individuals, they are able to break the static bond between Orsino and Olivia. In this manner, they free the other Illyrian characters, as well. Feste ends the play with a song about a storm, “the wind and the rain” – the element that catalyzed the main action in the play. Shakespeare employs the power of the sea in “Twelfth Night” in a manner similar to the power of the forest in “As You Like It”. The sea has changeable, transformative powers, which allow people to disguise their true identities in order to ignite change in the other characters. The characters that are brought to Illyria from the water bring with them the power of the sea. Once they are reunited, that power is unlocked and it destroys the Illyrian stasis that has previously prevailed.

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Deception, Delusion and the Danger of Half-Perceived Truths

August 7, 2019 by Essay Writer

It has often been said that “the clothes make the man.” It could never seem truer than in Twelfth Night where disguises and mistaken identities run the gamut of use. The identity of people, things and ideas are swept away under the facade of something more convenient for the given time or occasion. Viola’s disguise, Maria’s ploy, Feste’s folly and even love fall beneath a mask at the time which most perfectly complicates things nearly beyond salvation. The entanglements raise questions of the nature of reality that only Shakespeare himself can answer.The play begins with Viola discussing the plausibility and necessity of assuming a disguise during her time in Illyria. To her captain she says, “… Conceal me what I am, and be my aid / For such disguise as haply shall become the form of my intent,” thus instructing him in her plan to disguise herself. She goes on to say that she shall assume the form of an eunuch, and it is revealed much later in the play that it is actually the guise of her twin brother, Sebastian, at this early point assumed dead, that she chooses. This introduces from the very beginning the importance of disguises and misleading – right alongside the difficult there is in maintaining the misdirection in the face of verity. When she discovers that the very woman her temporary master is asking her to woo for him falls for her male persona, she says, “Disguise, I see, thou art a wickedness wherein the pregnant enemy does much.” She begins to feel the pressure most acutely even before that: she confesses obscurely to Olivia in admitting that “by the very fangs of malice” she is not that she plays. A juxtaposition between the goodly ease of assuming a disguise and the unpleasant mistruths of maintaining it is effectively posed.A proverb in vogue in England at the time Twelfth Night was written becomes a part of the clown’s lines: “Cucullus non facit monachum.” Translated, it means “the cowl does not make the monk” and is understood to mean “the clothes do not make the man” contemporarily. Though this would seem to be in keeping with the compromising situation Viola has been put herein by assuming a disguise, it is later shown that the opposite is true. Quite ironically, it is Feste himself who makes the contradictory assertion: “I would not be in some of your coats for two pence.” The following dialogue expresses it best:MARIA: Nay, I prithee, put on this gown and this beard; make him believe thou art Sir Topas the curate: do it quickly; I’ll call Sir Toby the whilst.CLOWN: Well, I’ll put it on, and I will dissemble myself in ‘t; and I would I were the first that ever dissembled in such a gown. I am not tall enough to become the function well, nor lean enough to be thought a good student; but to be said an honest man and a good housekeeper goes as fairly as to say a careful man and a great scholar.He seems to say that he cannot fully become the position until he dons the clothing that would outwardly signify him to be a member of that class. At the same time, he restates his prior statement regarding the monk by adding that he is not “tall enough to become the function well, nor lean enough to be though a good student,” which can be taken to mean that even when dressed as such it is not the clothing that makes him what he wishes to become. It is the coats and clothing worn that form the ideas of the person, as the final scene with Sebastian and Viola in the same room together for the first time shows, but it is truly what is inside (even if that “inside” is merely beneath the misleading articles of clothing) that makes the person; as Viola herself says early on in the play, “For such as we are made of, such we be.”The subplot with Maria, Sir Toby, Feste and Malvolio (and, partially, Sir Andrew) is perhaps the greatest tribute to the theme of deception. Malvolio is described by Olivia as being “sick of self-love”; Maria uses it against him, explaining “… it is his grounds of faith that all that look on him love him,” a state further encouraged by courtly etiquette that denies free reign of speech for her to say as much directly to him. In Act II, Sc. V, Malvolio discovers the fruit of the scheming trio’s labors: the letter, written by Maria, that dupes Malvolio into believing that his mistress does indeed love him. As people are wont to do, Malvolio takes each “clue” he’s received to be full and irrefutable proof that what is writ is the truth, never allowing the uncertainties to resolve themselves into something to the contrary. Maria, Sir Toby and Feste play no part in enlightening him, and indeed Malvolio sits in the darkness of ignorance both literally and figuratively at the end of it. His ignorance is a result of deception and his own unwillingness to face the light of the truth. In much literature, darkness symbolizes evil; in Twelfth Night, Malvolio demonstrates this. His half-complete version of the truth, shaped by the deceptive subplot, becomes a case of delusion to the extreme that is resolved only through the vague promise of revenge the character exit’s the play on. In another plot of deception, Sir Toby and Maria cheat Sir Andrew out of his money by fooling him into believing that they are his friends, when truly it is only his money they are after. There are constant references to Sir Andrew being only as good as his purse; they suffer his idiocies for his money, and he (though perhaps unknowingly) suffers their use for friendship.Many essays could be written on the fool Feste’s character alone: he is at once a paradox, and, throughout, an ironic source of direct information. Though he plays the fool, he is often the most perceptive of any of the characters. Viola even notices this (though only once he has revealed to her subtly that he has discovered her disguise): “This fellow is wise enough to play the fool.” His sarcastic wit serves as a comic foil to the seriousness of Sebastian (however much the latter doesn’t appreciate the former), the distracted passion of Orsino, the nervous eagerness of Viola and the jesting and fooling that genuinely exist in Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Maria. Shakespeare constantly writes in the dialogues bits about “folly” and “fooling,” things that would suggest that Feste is the lesser of the group. In reality, he is the one that holds his head throughout, never falls prey to passion or deception, and ends the play with a song that, true enough, speaks to the play of the day and to the end and resolution of it, when all delusions, deceptions and half-truths are rectified appropriately.

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