Love and Mistaken Identities in Twelfth Night, a Play by William Shakespeare
Twelfth Night Analysis
“Twelfth Night” is a play written by Shakespeare. This play, mainly based on love, begins with Orsino trying to win Olivia’s love. Viola, who was shipwrecked, assists the Duke by disguising herself as Cesario and ends up falling in love with the Duke. Olivia’s servant, Maria, plays a prank on Malvolio. Maria sends Malvolio love letters as if they were written by Olivia, leading Malvolio into believing that Olivia loves him but instead, makes a fool of himself. The Duke wants Cesario to win Olivia’s love for him, however Olivia confesses her love for Cesario. One of Olivia’s men, Sir Andrew, challenges Cesario to a fight but he declines. Sebastian, Viola’s twin brother who was also shipwrecked, makes an appearance and is led to marriage by Olivia who mistakens him for Cesario. Cesario uncovers himself as Viola, and the Duke asks her to marry him, meanwhile Sir Toby and Maria get married. The central idea is often everyone falls in love. To understand “Twelfth Night,” one must know how mistaken identities create humor, how love affects the conflict, and the opposites Malvolio and Sir Toby represent.
Shakespeare uses mistaken identities to create humor. Humor is created when Viola asks the captain to “Conceal [her] of what she is” (I.2.51) “to assure her own protection” (Roberts). The audience is well aware that Cesario is a woman but the rest of the characters in the play don’t know this. This fact entertains the audience in many scenes. For example, when Cesario is asked to win Olivia’s love for the Duke, Olivia falls in love with Cesario instead. It is known to the audience that Olivia is falling for a woman but she is not well aware of this which creates amusement. When Sir Toby creates a feud between Cesario and Sir Andrew for a fight, little does Sir Toby know that Cesario is a woman. This unknown fact to the characters enlightens the audience to anticipate what will happen in the fight. Viola being disguised to look a lot like her brother, raises tension when Antonio mistaken Cesario for Sebastian. Humor is also created when Olivia marries Sebastian instead of Cesario and the Duke’s love shifts from Olivia to Viola. Viola disguised as Cesario creates dramatic irony and keeps the readers entertained by the humor created in the scenes.
The theme of love affects the conflict in a couple of ways, Viola’s love for Orsino and Olivia’s love for Cesario. Viola’s love for Orsino is true love. She falls in love with him instantly but can do nothing about it because she is still disguised as Cesario. Even though she is pretending to be a man and is not known by the people of Illyria, she “would be his wife” (I.4.41) and is hoping he is “constant to her” and “inconstant in his affections for Olivia” (Roberts). The Duke and Cesario become very close and have a great bond working together so when Cesario reveals himself as Viola, it is easy for them to marry each other. In another love scenario, Olivia loves Cesario but he does not love her back. As Cesario tries winning Olivia’s love for the Duke, Olivia falls for Cesario because he knows what exactly a woman would like to hear. Love plays a major role in this play. The theme of love affects the conflict because other characters fall for each other but when true colors are revealed in the end of the play, the characters love for each other switches up.
Malvolio and Sir Toby Belch obtain opposite characteristics in this play. Malvolio is Olivia’s steward and is of the lower class. He is very stern and hates almost everyone. He criticizes everything and what everyone does. Malvolio is the opposite of happy. He likes to maintain a good manner but loses it when he tries to impress Olivia. On the other hand, Sir Toby Belch is Olivia’s uncle and is of the upper class. He loves to drink, sing, and dance. Sir Toby is pretty obnoxious and rude. He uses Sir Andrew, his drinking buddy, to marry Olivia so he can get away with drinking. Sir Toby is also a careless man and has no shame in being loud and drunk as his niece mourns for her brothers death. Malvolio bickers at Sir Toby’s habits and calls him out by asking him, “Have you no wit, manners, nor honesty” (II.3.82). Sir Toby does not like Malvolio because he only cares for his social rank and mainly because he judges Sir Toby of his partying habits. Malvolio doesn’t like Sir Toby because of his improper behavior. The two come from different social classes but act the opposite of their class. These two are completely different; Malvolio wants “everyone to be as austere and priggish as he is” and Sir Toby “always finds pleasure in life” (Roberts).
Knowing how mistaken identities create humor, how the theme of love affects conflict, and the opposites Malvolio and Sir Toby represent need to be understood when reading this play. Being able to identify who the characters are and what characteristics they portray will help the readers understand them better. Love is a major theme that affects the conflict and being able to identify the love triangles will give a better understanding of this play.
Gender Expectations and Courtship in As You Like It and Twelfth Night
Although some Shakespearean plays carve out a more passive, male-defined role for women, such as that which is exemplified through Ophelia’s obedience to Polonius in Hamlet, the comedies of As You Like It and Twelfth Night explore women’s potential for unexpected honesty, especially within the dynamics of courtship. In As You Like It, the female character Rosalind, who is disguised as a male named Ganymede, is defined by her interactions with Phoebe and Orlando. As a result of contact with each of these characters, Rosalind articulates some variety of truth either about the other character’s personality or the societal conception of appropriate behavior for their gender. The character of Countess Olivia in Twelfth Night, however, expresses her personal attitude about others less for the purpose of exploring the tendencies of human nature than for the hope of obtaining the favor of those to whom she is attracted. In both of the aforementioned plays, female courtship seems to be primarily centered upon a desire to express a certain truth, either about themselves or other characters with whom they interact. The motivation for expressing this inner thought, however, tends to be dictated by the behavioral expectations for their gender. In the case of Rosalind, honest speech is produced as a result of the newfound social freedom associated with her adoption of a male physical appearance. Within the purely feminine appearance of Olivia, however, courtship seems to be driven by a more emotional concern for her amorous future rather than an attempt to improve those with whom her security is not inextricably linked.
This social freedom through the realm of courtship is first illustrated through Rosalind’s interaction with the shepherdess Phoebe, who is averse to the advances of a shepherd named Silvius. After the audience experiences Silvius’ painful and apparently repeated rejection by the shepherdess, Rosalind urges, …mistress, know yourself; down on your knees / And thank heaven, fasting, for a good man’s love; / For I must tell you with a friendly ear, / Sell when you can. You are not for all markets.” (As You Like It 3.5.110-113)
Although Rosalind claims that she uses a “friendly ear” to make the shepherdess aware of the negative traits that make her unappealing to any other man, it is rather obvious that these comments are instead of an extremely harsh nature. Though Rosalind is primarily motivated to disguise herself as a male because of the physical safety from danger the gender provides, she is also unknowingly presented with social safety. She now possesses the ability to comment upon others’ lack of social success not only without producing animosity but also by ironically eliciting amorous feelings. This concept is exemplified in Phoebe’s later assertion that, even though the qualities of her personality have been consistently abused by Rosalind, “…the scorn in your bright eyne / Have power to raise such love in mine, / Alack, in me what strange effect / Would they work in mild aspect?” (As You Like It 4.3.50-54).
Ultimately, though Rosalind does not intend to invite an intimate relationship with the shepherdess, she represents a form of truth not bestowed upon her by Silvius that she finds attractive. Whereas Silvius usually showers her with innumerable compliments, Rosalind increases Phoebe’s awareness of her own ugly personality. Therefore, the honesty this male persona produces is accepted simply because Rosalind presents a different variety of courtship that the shepherdess finds more appealing. If Rosalind were not embodying a male figure, Phoebe would not be attracted to her criticisms and therefore would not react positively to her. This freedom associated with her gender ultimately allows her expression of disapproval of the shepherdess’ actions to be positively received.
In contrast to these conversations with Phoebe which primarily concern a specific critique of her far too selective romantic standards, Rosalind’s later interactions with Orlando exemplify a different sort of social analysis: that of general gender characteristics. Although Rosalind’s love for Orlando, as well as his overwhelming attraction to her, is made clear after his decisive defeat of the wrestler Charles in the first act, Rosalind displays a different sentiment entirely after her embodiment of Ganymede’s persona. When Orlando claims that he cannot be cured of his love attachment, Rosalind asserts that she has previously pretended to be the female that another man powerfully desired and that
He was to imagine her his love, his mistress; and she sent him every day to woo her. At which time would she…now like him, now loathe him; then entertain him, then forswear him; now weep for him, then spit at him, that she drave her suitor from his mad humour of love to a living humour of madness…” (As You Like It 3.2.364-374)
It is within this passage that Rosalind first uses her disguise to comment upon accepted gender roles through her contemplation of the unpredictable nature of women. It is evident that Rosalind believes herself to have significant insight upon certain aspects of gender that can cause a relationship to proliferate or fail. This opinion, when coupled with her aforementioned personal criticism of Phoebe’s personality, displays that this character’s sense of successful courtship is greatly rooted in what these gender roles deem to be appropriate. If a woman is unreasonable in her action, such as is shown in the above quotation, the amorous emotions of a male can rarely tolerate the strain. This interaction between Rosalind and Orlando, then, is based upon the same premises as her criticism of Phoebe in that, though Phoebe is scrutinized on a more personal level, both situations maintain the same truth about amorous relationships as related to cultural constraints. It is only through the freedom that seemingly male-male communication produces that these opinions about females, specifically those which concern the behavior of Orlando’s beloved, can be expressed without offense. This decision to aid Orlando in ridding himself of his love for Rosalind further develops a significant relationship which ultimately provides the opportunity for even more direct criticism to be well received.
Rosalind later extends her assessment of the social premises of courtship to the general tendencies of men as she states that “…men are April when they woo, December when they wed. May when they are maids, but the sky changes when they are wives” (As You Like It 4.1.124-127). Comparable to Rosalind’s honest expression of the stereotypical nature of women, she once again freely criticizes Orlando, but this time concentrates upon a female’s interactions with the opposite sex. Through this quotation, Rosalind seems to challenge the long term validity of Orlando’s love attachment and asserts that, despite the fact that he now claims to be devoted to his love’s satisfaction, his later actions will prove to be identical to those of other men. She even continues this generalization of his character as she later declares, “I knew what you would prove; my friends told me as much, and I thought no less. That flattering tongue of yours won me” (As You Like It 4.1.156-158). Rosalind’s mention of Orlando’s “flattering tongue” once again makes reference to the idea of false wooing that ultimately terminates after the woman has been contractually obtained. This criticism of negative male characteristics, as well as those of females mentioned previously, is made possible due to the closer relationship Rosalind forms with Orlando as a result of her altered physical appearance. The male disguise that Rosalind creates results in the development of friendship between the characters. This in turn allows her criticisms of Orlando’s nature as well as those of his beloved to be interpreted as playful jest rather than mean-spirited reproach. Although many of Rosalind’s judgments maintain a certain level of clarity, they would not be looked upon favorably unless she is able to create, in the case of Orlando, the friendship which serves to validate these claims. Within her interactions both with Phoebe and Orlando, Rosalind provides a refreshing escape from the characters with whom they usually interact and, as a result of their being supplied with what they perceive to be a much desired companion, they accept Rosalind’s candid nature.
Although the freedom of expression embodied by Rosalind is primarily motivated by her need to comment upon others’ social shortcomings, Olivia is more directed by obtaining that which she desires. When she is confronted with yet another female character dressed as a male, Viola, she makes an attempt to seize the opportunity for personal support that seems to be offered her. After a conversation with Viola in which she inquires as to her social stature, she reflects on Viola’s answer as well as the nature of her own abrupt change in emotion:
‘What is your parentage?’ / ‘Above my fortunes, yet my state is well. / I am a gentleman.’ I’ll be sworn thou art. / 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 one may catch the plague? / Methinks I feel this youth’s perfections / With an invisible and subtle stealth / To creep in at mine eyes. Well, let it be. (Twelfth Night 1.5.259-268)
It seems that Viola’s revelation of her status solidifies the positive regard that Olivia has developed and that, though she wonders at the sudden affect that their short conversations have produced, this technicality of social privilege more clearly defines the possibility of a successful relationship. Although Olivia is, at this point, able to be internally honest about her emotions, it is not until later in the play that she is able to explicitly express her desires to Viola in an attempt to forcibly create mutual amorous attachment. She confesses that
By maidenhood, honor, truth, and everything / I love thee so that, maugre all thy pride, / Nor wit nor reason can my passion hide… / Love sought is good, but given unsought is better… / Yet come again, for thou perhaps mayst move / That heart which now abhors, to like this love. (Twelfth Night 3.1.141-155)
This evolution from an inner expression of truth to one that is explicitly directed at another character exemplifies the fact that Olivia employs honesty when she feels it is necessary in order to obtain a sort of emotional security, even if the second party is unwilling. It is evident through Olivia’s final words to Viola that Olivia is of the opinion that, if Viola would only spend more time with her, the powerful attraction that Olivia feels would eventually become mutual. Ultimately, it seems that Olivia believes that her decision to allow herself to be vulnerable enough to express her emotions should immediately produce the effect which she so desperately desires.
Olivia further exercises her autonomy when she essentially demands marriage between herself and Sebastian, whom she thinks to be Viola. This truth of expression that augments in strength throughout the play culminates in a proposal so powerful in its nature that even a male character cannot refuse. She states that “Thou canst not choose but go. / Do not deny. Beshrew his soul for me. / He started one poor heart of mine in thee… / Nay, come, I prithee, would thou’dst be ruled by me.” (Twelfth Night 4.1.53-60) It is most important to note that, in this particular instance, Olivia is successful in obtaining a man through her own agency that she believes to be the one she has been attempting to court throughout the play. Although she does display the same powerful freedom of expression which is embodied by Rosalind, she is motivated not by a desire to inform others of their personality flaws but rather by the inclination toward forming a more secure future for herself. In fact, Olivia seems to display a form of autonomy that is reminiscent of that which is exhibited by Rosalind in that, though she does not match the physical appearance of a male, she is equally as forthright. It could be suggested by these similarities that Olivia’s background, which does not include of any sort of older guiding figure, has allowed her to act like an independent male, due to the fact that there is no one else to make decisions for her. It is shown through Olivia’s character that, when a female is forced to create her own positive life circumstances, she may be afforded the right to speak and act more honestly.
Despite the fact that only Rosalind personifies the male gender both in personality and in physicality, Olivia also has the ability to seize control of her interactions with other characters through her candor. It seems to be suggested through these different examples of autonomy that a male character, or even the character of Rosalind disguised as a male, is able to interact with others solely upon the basis of a detached criticism which is simultaneously independent of emotion. Despite the fact that Rosalind is in love with Orlando throughout the play, she is able to successfully embody her charade of a well meaning friend without allowing too much of her own feelings to be detected. In the case of Olivia, however, despite the fact that she is able to express herself freely in a way that is suggestive of a male, she is never truly able to separate from her relationships with other characters her desire for obtaining a male companion. Ultimately, both plays seem to comment upon the exploration of societal construction of gender and could reiterate that a female character’s potential for freedom of expression involves a true separation from desire that they often cannot seem to achieve without the male physicality to accompany it.
Lovers or Friends: The Mystery of Viola and Orsino’s Relationship
Shakespeare’s classic play, Twelfth Night, tells the story of Viola, a woman who dresses like a man to find a place in Duke Orsino’s court. While working for Orsino, however, Viola falls in love with him, but must hide her feelings in order to protect her new identity and because Orsino is in love with another woman named Olivia. The play deals with ideas of social class, sexuality, and gender, and comments on the roles of these factors in relationships. Through Orsino and Viola’s casual physicality and joint activities as well as the setting and music used in their scenes, the movie version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night portrays their relationship as one of equals and full of sexual tension despite their apparently shared genders, thereby defying the heteronormativity of the era, whereas the play portrays Viola as socially inferior to Orsino and suggests that her love for him will be unrequited as long as she remains disguised as a man.
The casual physical contact between Orsino and Viola in the movie illustrates a relationship of friends or equals in contrast to the play, which shows Orsino to have power over Viola. In the play, when Orsino asks Viola to go woo Olivia for him, he mentions that he chose Viola to “act his woes” because he felt Olivia will “attend it better” due to Viola’s “youth” (1.4.29). He then goes on to describe Viola’s “smooth and rubious” lips, and her “shrill and sound” voice, noting that they are “all semblative a woman’s part” (1.4.3537). These lines can be interpreted as demeaning, as Orsino potentially insults Viola’s masculinity when he tells her that she looks like a woman. However, the film, which does not change Orsino’s lines, uses physical contact between the two to illustrate Orsino’s good humored intentions. In one instance, when Orsino describes picking Viola to “act his woes”, he puts his arm around her as a sign of comradery. Similarly, when he speaks of her “smooth and rubious lip,” Orsino teasingly tickles Viola’s mouth. Viola also reciprocates the friendly physicality by playfully shoving Orsino when he compares her to a “woman,” which demonstrates that she was clearly not offended by his remark. Additionally, as Orsino continues to beg Viola to speak to Olivia on his behalf and remarks that her “constellation is right apt for this affair,” (1.4.3839) he grabs her hand while lying pathetically on a couch. While the play gives no indication of Orsino’s vulnerability, the movie shows Orsino taking Viola’s hand in his moment of need, which further illustrates the intensity of their friendship. Furthermore, the physical aspect of Orsino and Viola’s relationship in the film renders any direct mention of their intimacy by other characters unnecessary. In the play, Valentine, one of Orsino’s servants, observes to Viola that she is “likely to be much advanced” by Orsino, because even though he has only known her “but three days,” she is “already no stranger” to him (1.4.24). However, in the film, these lines are cut, because the intimacy of Orsino and Viola’s relationship is obvious enough without Valentine’s commentary. Similarly, the film cuts Viola’s line where she declares that she wants to “be his wife” (1.4.46). because the chemistry between Viola and Orsino in the movie already portrays her love for him. While the play suggests that Orsino sees himself as superior to Viola, the film utilizes their physical relationship to illustrate a meaningful friendship.
The activities that Viola and Orsino engage in in the film also portray their relationship as one of friends and equals, rather than the play, which depicts Orsino as having a position of power over Viola due to his social class. In the play, Viola and Orsino discuss Viola’s love life. When Orsino asks Viola “what kind of woman” she loves, Viola answers that the person is of Orsino’s “complexion” (2.4.3031). Similarly, when Orsino asks how old the woman is, Viola answers “about your years, my lord” (2.4.33). In this scene, Shakespeare uses dramatic irony as a method of humor, as the reader understands that the person Viola is describing is Orsino, while he remains totally oblivious. The film uses many of the same lines, but when Orsino and Viola have this conversation, they are sitting together while playing cards and smoking cigars. While the lines alone suggest that Orsino is interested in Viola’s love life, the cigars and card game that the two characters share in the film while having this intimate conversation is indicative of their close friendship. Additionally, in the film, Viola does not address Orsino as “my lord,” which suggests that the two are on equal standing as opposed to the play. Viola and Orsino have another meaningful conversation about love later in which they discuss Orsino’s heartache. During this conversation, Orsino calls Viola over by saying “come hither, boy,” and then tells Viola to “remember” him if she ever “shalt love” (2.4.17). The lines stay almost the same in the film, but the two are playing a game of pool while having this conversation which indicates that they are friends. Furthermore, in the film, Orsino’s command “come hither, boy” is cut, as the movie aims to depict a relationship of equals while the play portrays Orsino as socially superior. The activities that Viola and Orsino partake in in the film emphasize their close friendship and depicts their relationship as one of equals.
Not only does the film portray Viola and Orsino as friends, but the setting and music in these characters’ scenes adds a romantic quality to their relationship that the play does not touch on. In the play, when Orsino convinces Viola to go woo Olivia for him, his lines somewhat portray the intimacy of their relationship, as he speaks of giving Viola “the book even of my secret soul” (1.4.15). However, the setting in the film during this scene adds a romantic quality to this exchange, as Viola and Orsino are sitting on cliffs on a beach while having this conversation. By putting the characters in a romantic atmosphere while they have a discussion about love, the film subtly suggests that Orsino and Viola are more than just friends. Similarly, in the play, when Orsino inquires about Viola’s love life, he asks for Feste to “play the tune awhile” (1.4.1516), but no indication is given about the nature of the music that is playing in the scene. However, the film intersperses this scene with one in which Feste plays a love song for Maria, Toby, and Andrew, while Maria sings along with Feste and gives Toby longing glances just as Viola is doing to Orsino in her scene. The love song that plays during these scenes emphasizes the romantic element in Viola and Orsino’s relationship, and the film further comments on a possible romance between Viola and Orsino as it juxtaposes Maria’s longing for Toby and Viola’s love for Orsino. Viola and Orsino have another emotional conversation later, when Orsino once again begs Viola to convince Olivia to marry him. In the play, Viola’s love for Orsino is shown as completely unrequited, as Orsino constantly speaks of his infatuation with Olivia while Viola secretly pins for him. However, by placing Viola and Orsino in another romantic setting while speaking of love, the film continues to imply that there is more to their relationship than friendship, as the two characters screaming at each other on the beach resembles a couple having a lovers quarrel. Furthermore, the film makes changes to Orsino’s lines to insinuate that he is angry at Olivia rather than completely in love with her. In the play, when Orsino speaks of Olivia to Viola, he calls her a “sovereign cruelty,” but then goes on to explain that he does not want her “quantity of dirty lands” or “fortune,” but is instead attracted to her “nature” (2.4.8995). However, the film cuts all of Orsino’s lines in which he speaks of Olivia’s kind “nature,” and instead only includes the line in which he calls her cruel. By omitting Orsino’s lines that mention his love for Olivia, the film focuses on the possibility of Orsino loving Viola instead. The setting and music used during Viola and Orsino’s scenes in the film creates a romantic atmosphere for the characters while the play portrays a strictly platonic relationship between the two.
As the story continues, the use of setting and music portrays Viola and Orsino’s relationship as not only romantic, but also full of sexual tension, which defies the heteronormative stereotypes of the time, while the play portrays Viola’s love for Orsino as one sided and unlikely to be returned. In the play, Orsino describes to Valentine how he detests Olivia’s disregard for him, as he wonders bitterly if Olivia will finally love him “when the rich golden shaft” of Cupid’s bow has “killed” all her other feelings or emotions (1.1.3738). In the film, Orsino’s musings are made to Viola instead of Valentine, which suggests that Orsino feels comfortable divulging his intimate feelings to her. Additionally, the film places Orsino naked in a bathtub during this conversation while Viola uses a sponge to bathe him, which introduces an element of sexual tension to their relationship that the play does not have. The sexual tension between the characters heightens during the scene in which Feste sings a song about death for Orsino and Viola, where he tells death to “come away” and asks to be “laid” in a coffin of “sad cypress” (2.4.5859). The film uses the same song, but completely changes the atmosphere of the scene by putting Viola, Orsino, and Feste in a dark, deserted barn. Although the lyrics remain sad in the film, it appears as if Feste is serenading the two, and while he is singing, Viola and Orsino’s faces slowly get closer and closer as if they are about to kiss. While the play includes Viola and Orsino listening to Feste sing, the film’s addition of a romantic setting and the suggestion of a kiss adds sexual tension to Viola and Orsino’s relationship. After the song, Feste tells Orsino that his “mind is a very opal,” (4.2.82) a stone that changes color. By comparing Orsino’s mind to an opal right after he apparently almost kisses a man, Feste comments on Orsino’s possible change of mind, and insinuates that he loves men now. Although this line was also in the play, the film’s addition of an almostkiss between Orsino and Viola directs the line at Orsino’s sexuality, a distinction that the play does not touch on. While the play includes Viola’s love for Orsino, Orsino does not reciprocate her feelings until he discovers that she is actually a woman. However, in the film, Orsino begins to fall for Viola even while she is under the facade of Cesario. The film’s use of romantic settings and music challenges the heteronormative views of the era by portraying Orsino’s attraction to Viola despite their apparently shared genders.
Viola and Orsino’s shared activities and physicality portray the two as friends and equals despite Orsino’s higher social rank. Furthermore, the film’s use of setting, music, and other general choices to highlight the romance and sexual tension in Viola and Orsino’s relationship challenges the heteronormative stereotypes of the era. The different interpretation of Viola and Orsino’s relationship that the film presents illustrates the different attitudes towards social hierarchy and homosexuality in Shakespeare’s era versus the twenty first century.
Gender Identity in “Twelfth Night”
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.
Twelfth Night Film Essay
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.
Twelfth Night – Orsino
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.
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 – https://www.shmoop.com/twelfth-night/
Gender in “Twelfth Night”
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, www.jstor.org/stable/3208678.
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. Twelfth Night. Boston ; New York :Houghton Mifflin, 1928. Print.
Homosexuality in “Twelfth Night”
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.
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.
Romantic Comedy in Twelfth Night
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.
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.
Romantic Love Causes Several Characters to Behave Foolishly in the Twelfth Night
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.)