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Analysis of "Twelfth Night" Essay
William Shakespeare, arguably the most important writer in all of English
Literature, is certainly the most influential playwright of the English Renaissance. Born in 1564 in
Stratford–upon–Avon in rural northern England, he was the son of a middle class glove maker.
Competing against such illustrious company as Christopher Marlowe and Ben Johnson, Shakespeare
quickly became one of the most popular playwrights in the city of London, and a favourite of the
monarch, the powerful Queen Elizabeth I. Shakespeare wrote thirty–eight plays. "Twelfth Night" was
written near the middle of Shakespeare' career, around 1601, and most critics consider it as one of
his greatest comedies.
"Twelfth Night" is about illusion, deception, disguises,...show more content...
He twisted Olivia's words (from a fake letter) around to make it sounds like she will admire his
yellow cross–gathered stockings, when she really despises them, considering him as a mad. Feste,
the clown, said: .".Madam, why laugh you at such a barren rascal, and you smile not he's gagg'd:
and thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenge", and by doing so, Feste criticizes Malvolio's
overestimation, when at their first meeting Malvolio said: "I marvel your lady takes delight in such
a barren rascal." Through doing this, he shows himself to be a man who condescends to those that
he believes to be lower than him, acting on his own personal belief of superiority. Thus, this
self–inflated sour character is brought to his knees, unlocked in darkness, because he was
considered as a "madman", and he "holds Belzebub at the stave's end as well as man in his case may
do." This was done through a fake love–letter written by Maria, and when Malvolio appears, he
shows the letter arguing that it set off his madness, which he signed as: "The MADLY–US'D
MALVOLIO." Thus, self–love, pride, desire to climb the social ladder, and to burn the social class
boundaries, all these factors drove Malvolio to a state of madness, as a consequence he was
humiliated, leading to his downfall. By humiliating him, even Puritanism is mocked. Malvolio
symbolized Puritanism (strict values, no fancy...), and due to the fact that the joke was around his
new dresses for Olivia, yellow socks, smiles, the
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twelfth night Essay
Twelfth Night Essay While many will agree that Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is critically acclaimed
to be one of the most entertaining and well–liked pieces that he has written, there tends to be a
discrepancy over how the characters in the play are portrayed when it comes to the importance of
gender roles. After reading James C Bulman's article over the Globe's more recent performance of
Twelfth Night and Shakespeare's original written version, I realized that there are many ways that
this famous piece has been portrayed and each has its own pros and cons. Shakespeare's Twelfth
Night examines patterns of love and courtship through a twisting of gender roles. The play centers
on the lead female role and protagonist, Viola, who...show more content...
I honestly don't believe that one's opinion on same–sex couples has any importance when it comes to
transvestite versus traditional role–play on stage. An author or director's utmost goal is to
successfully present his/her work in a way that makes the audience members feel as if they are
apart of the show like they were one of the characters themselves. In other words, it is all about
believability. If the play calls for a young female character then I am more likely to follow along
when a female actor is playing that role. On the contrary, I would be distracted focusing on the
male actor trying to portray a female role. In all versions of Twelfth Night, however, the roles are
so convoluted that it is difficult to say which would be more believable: Viola/Cesario played by a
female actress or male actor. For example, in Nunn's film, the scene where Orsino is in the tub and
asks young Cesario to help him bathe, it wouldn't make any difference in believability whether the
actor was male or female since our minds have already had to entertain the thought of Viola
representing both a man and a woman. Others may disagree and say that the sex of the actor
/actresses would not have an effect on their acceptance of the play. As previously stated, it is
entirely a personal matter. If it were up to me to direct this play I would do traditional casting, like
Nunn had done, with men playing male characters and women playing female
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Twelfth Night
'Twelfth Night' focuses on the conventions of Comedy itself. Comedy has to have a resolution,
usually with all the characters ending up happy, but not before the audience are taken on a journey
of twists and turns through trickery and wit as well as many complexities before tying everything
up in the end in a final climax. Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' is a prime example of this. In 'Twelfth
Night', there is the main plot – a love triangle, disguise and misinterpretation– which provides some
Comedy but more importantly, there is the accompanying subplot featuring Maria, Sir Toby Belch,
Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Malvolio which brings the focus of Comedy directly to them. Maria's
ties and connections with the main plot are important as it gives her insight...show more content...
Shakespeare's intentions with Maria are clear here; her plans are slowly but surely being put in
place for the downfall of Malvolio. Shakespeare's use of negative language is critical to Maria's
speech as well as Shakespeare's use of imagery, when Maria speaks of Olivia's dislike towards the
colour, she does not just say she dislikes it, the use of the word "abhors" shows Olivia thinks that
it is the most disgusting colour to exist. The word "detest" reiterates the disgust that Olivia will
feel when she lays eyes upon Malvolio. Malvolio will look so stupid that he will be a "notable
contempt" because he has had the nerve to "smile" whilst Olivia is "addicted to melancholy"
suggests the comparisons between there dispositions and demeanours will be so severely different
that it will elicit laughter. Shakespeare's clever use of wording creates the image of how ridiculous
Malvolio will look in front of Olivia. Once again Maria exits the stage and Shakespeare reinforces
dramatic tension through this exit therefore leaving the audience desperate to know what happens
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Twelfth Night Essay
In Shakespeare's play, Twelfth Night or What you Will, the characters are involved in a plot
complete with trickery, disguise, and love. Each character is defined not by his or her gender or true
identity, but by the role they are forced to take because of the complicated situation that arises.
Unlike their gender, the speech the characters give an insight to their true personalities. In the
Twelfth Night, the character Duke Orsino uses flowery and over–dramatic language, long poetic
sentence structure, and melodramatic metaphors to display his overemotional romantic nature
despite the different emotions in his various speeches. Duke Orsino's repeated usage of poetical
verse and poetic devices to describe his woes from love set him...show more content...
Enough no more!" (1.1.6–7). He accentuates his original metaphor by personifying music and
comparing it to a breeze that carries the flowers odor with it. Until line 8, Orsino does not mention
his love explicitly. Instead, he establishes the feeling of yearning by referring to symbols of love
such as music and flowers. Orsino ends his long speech with, "Even in a minute, So full of shapes is
fancy./ That it alone is high fantastical." (1.1.14–15). By stating that love is a wonderful figment of
imagination, Orsino reinforces the previous metaphorical and vague language he uses in the
beginning of the speech. "That it [love] alone is high fantastical" (1.1.15) also shows that he is a
true romantic because he is in love with the concept of love rather than the person themselves.
Furthermore, he line, "...Enough no more!" (1.1.7) contradicts with the previous line, "Give me
excess of it, that, surfeiting," (1.1.4) which proves that Orsino is very dramatic in character because
he constantly vacillates in his actions and desires. He is emotionally unstable at times in the play and
thus acquires a dramatic behavior.
In Act 5, Orsino delivers a speech to Olivia in order to express his broken heart and pine over his
unreciprocated feelings. However, by drawing out the speech with allusions, excessive language, and
metaphors, Shakespeare portrays Orsino as an overemotional and romance–driven character.
Compared to Orsino's first
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Twelfth Night Essay
Twelfth Night Essay Twelfth Night is a comedy and a marvel. This play conveys many messages
that are seen by the audience, but not seen by the characters in the play. There are many points
involving love, friendship, conflicts and confusion. Twelfth Night displays characters that are mad,
in love, and desperate for love. Twelfth Night has many conflicts that occur because characters fail
to listen to messages. Viola is a character who has just thought that her brother has died in a
shipwreck that they were both in. Viola disguises herself as a man to seek employment under the
Duke Orsino's court. The confusion occurs, when Viola tells Orsino that she loves someone
(Orsino), when she tells Olivia that she cannot love a woman, and when...show more content...
She also speaks in a different manner than most men around her, which makes her a bit different.
She does not like to fight, and does not act like a drunk. Viola/Cesario also speaks to Olivia about
not loving a woman. Viola admits to Olivia that she is someone who cannot, and will not love
another woman. Olivia, having fallen in love with Cesario/Viola, is blinded by love and does listen
to Viola's important words. As Viola tries to tell Olivia that she cannot love her, Olivia just falls
even more in love, which creates much more confusion between them. Viola, being annoyed with
Olivia's stubborn character, says something that snaps Olivia out of her dream world. "Then think
you right. I am not what I am." (III.I. 145–150) Viola hints to Olivia, as she did to Orsino, that she is
different from her actual appearance. These characters, such as Olivia and Orsino, have gotten so
caught up in their love, and search for love that they have caused confusion for all. Olivia's and
Orsino's behaviour affects them personally. Olivia tries to convince Cesario/Viola to love her, but
Viola, being intelligent, replies to Olivia. "I pity you." (III.I. 125–130) Viola explains her pity for
Olivia, because she sees, how desperate Olivia is for love. No man would have responded this way
to a lady such as Olivia, which shows some more of Viola's true personality and character. Viola has
told Olivia her true feelings towards
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Twelfth Night Motifs
William Shakespeare presents a multitude of motifs in his comedy, Twelfth Night. The play reflects
on the dangers or risks of messages and exposes character conflicts and motives. The repetition of the
motif through characters' speeches and actions allows Shakespeare to capture the different facets of
human emotion and interaction. The outcome of communicating messages to others differ, as the
response can either be freeing or destructive. Shakespeare's Twelfth Night integrates the dynamics of
communication into the play in order to display the power of messages over human emotions,
disguises, and motives.
Shakespeare reveals that communication has the power to both warn of the dangers of messages
and the power to reveal the truth. Orsino's poetic allusions lead Viola to fall in love with him. He
says to her as Cesario, "Thou know'st no less but all. I have unclasped / To thee the book even of my
secret soul" (1.4.14–15). Orsino's use of literary symbolism of allows Viola to utilize her ability to
see a person's true character to connect Orsino's emotions to a "book." Comparing his emotions to a
"book" suggests that literature is the strongest power over humans. In the three days she has been
his messenger, Orsino has confided in her his most internal thoughts and revealed that she opens the
"book" of his "secret soul." Soon after, Viola tells Olivia...show more content...
The poems in Twelfth Night symbolize both the values and the concealed risks of messages.
When that form of communication is composed from the heart, it has the power to bring a
character closer to falling in love. Messages in the form of objects can easily mislead and confuse
a character, thus adulterating the true meaning of the message. Olivia's message foreshadows
Viola's internal conflicts, as she soon realizes that Olivia's trick places her in a miserable love
triangle where she loves Orsino, but he loves Olivia, and Olivia loves
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Twelfth Night Critical Essays

  • 1. Analysis of "Twelfth Night" Essay William Shakespeare, arguably the most important writer in all of English Literature, is certainly the most influential playwright of the English Renaissance. Born in 1564 in Stratford–upon–Avon in rural northern England, he was the son of a middle class glove maker. Competing against such illustrious company as Christopher Marlowe and Ben Johnson, Shakespeare quickly became one of the most popular playwrights in the city of London, and a favourite of the monarch, the powerful Queen Elizabeth I. Shakespeare wrote thirty–eight plays. "Twelfth Night" was written near the middle of Shakespeare' career, around 1601, and most critics consider it as one of his greatest comedies. "Twelfth Night" is about illusion, deception, disguises,...show more content... He twisted Olivia's words (from a fake letter) around to make it sounds like she will admire his yellow cross–gathered stockings, when she really despises them, considering him as a mad. Feste, the clown, said: .".Madam, why laugh you at such a barren rascal, and you smile not he's gagg'd: and thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenge", and by doing so, Feste criticizes Malvolio's overestimation, when at their first meeting Malvolio said: "I marvel your lady takes delight in such a barren rascal." Through doing this, he shows himself to be a man who condescends to those that he believes to be lower than him, acting on his own personal belief of superiority. Thus, this self–inflated sour character is brought to his knees, unlocked in darkness, because he was considered as a "madman", and he "holds Belzebub at the stave's end as well as man in his case may do." This was done through a fake love–letter written by Maria, and when Malvolio appears, he shows the letter arguing that it set off his madness, which he signed as: "The MADLY–US'D MALVOLIO." Thus, self–love, pride, desire to climb the social ladder, and to burn the social class boundaries, all these factors drove Malvolio to a state of madness, as a consequence he was humiliated, leading to his downfall. By humiliating him, even Puritanism is mocked. Malvolio symbolized Puritanism (strict values, no fancy...), and due to the fact that the joke was around his new dresses for Olivia, yellow socks, smiles, the Get more content on HelpWriting.net
  • 2. twelfth night Essay Twelfth Night Essay While many will agree that Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is critically acclaimed to be one of the most entertaining and well–liked pieces that he has written, there tends to be a discrepancy over how the characters in the play are portrayed when it comes to the importance of gender roles. After reading James C Bulman's article over the Globe's more recent performance of Twelfth Night and Shakespeare's original written version, I realized that there are many ways that this famous piece has been portrayed and each has its own pros and cons. Shakespeare's Twelfth Night examines patterns of love and courtship through a twisting of gender roles. The play centers on the lead female role and protagonist, Viola, who...show more content... I honestly don't believe that one's opinion on same–sex couples has any importance when it comes to transvestite versus traditional role–play on stage. An author or director's utmost goal is to successfully present his/her work in a way that makes the audience members feel as if they are apart of the show like they were one of the characters themselves. In other words, it is all about believability. If the play calls for a young female character then I am more likely to follow along when a female actor is playing that role. On the contrary, I would be distracted focusing on the male actor trying to portray a female role. In all versions of Twelfth Night, however, the roles are so convoluted that it is difficult to say which would be more believable: Viola/Cesario played by a female actress or male actor. For example, in Nunn's film, the scene where Orsino is in the tub and asks young Cesario to help him bathe, it wouldn't make any difference in believability whether the actor was male or female since our minds have already had to entertain the thought of Viola representing both a man and a woman. Others may disagree and say that the sex of the actor /actresses would not have an effect on their acceptance of the play. As previously stated, it is entirely a personal matter. If it were up to me to direct this play I would do traditional casting, like Nunn had done, with men playing male characters and women playing female Get more content on HelpWriting.net
  • 3. Twelfth Night 'Twelfth Night' focuses on the conventions of Comedy itself. Comedy has to have a resolution, usually with all the characters ending up happy, but not before the audience are taken on a journey of twists and turns through trickery and wit as well as many complexities before tying everything up in the end in a final climax. Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' is a prime example of this. In 'Twelfth Night', there is the main plot – a love triangle, disguise and misinterpretation– which provides some Comedy but more importantly, there is the accompanying subplot featuring Maria, Sir Toby Belch, Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Malvolio which brings the focus of Comedy directly to them. Maria's ties and connections with the main plot are important as it gives her insight...show more content... Shakespeare's intentions with Maria are clear here; her plans are slowly but surely being put in place for the downfall of Malvolio. Shakespeare's use of negative language is critical to Maria's speech as well as Shakespeare's use of imagery, when Maria speaks of Olivia's dislike towards the colour, she does not just say she dislikes it, the use of the word "abhors" shows Olivia thinks that it is the most disgusting colour to exist. The word "detest" reiterates the disgust that Olivia will feel when she lays eyes upon Malvolio. Malvolio will look so stupid that he will be a "notable contempt" because he has had the nerve to "smile" whilst Olivia is "addicted to melancholy" suggests the comparisons between there dispositions and demeanours will be so severely different that it will elicit laughter. Shakespeare's clever use of wording creates the image of how ridiculous Malvolio will look in front of Olivia. Once again Maria exits the stage and Shakespeare reinforces dramatic tension through this exit therefore leaving the audience desperate to know what happens Get more content on HelpWriting.net
  • 4. Twelfth Night Essay In Shakespeare's play, Twelfth Night or What you Will, the characters are involved in a plot complete with trickery, disguise, and love. Each character is defined not by his or her gender or true identity, but by the role they are forced to take because of the complicated situation that arises. Unlike their gender, the speech the characters give an insight to their true personalities. In the Twelfth Night, the character Duke Orsino uses flowery and over–dramatic language, long poetic sentence structure, and melodramatic metaphors to display his overemotional romantic nature despite the different emotions in his various speeches. Duke Orsino's repeated usage of poetical verse and poetic devices to describe his woes from love set him...show more content... Enough no more!" (1.1.6–7). He accentuates his original metaphor by personifying music and comparing it to a breeze that carries the flowers odor with it. Until line 8, Orsino does not mention his love explicitly. Instead, he establishes the feeling of yearning by referring to symbols of love such as music and flowers. Orsino ends his long speech with, "Even in a minute, So full of shapes is fancy./ That it alone is high fantastical." (1.1.14–15). By stating that love is a wonderful figment of imagination, Orsino reinforces the previous metaphorical and vague language he uses in the beginning of the speech. "That it [love] alone is high fantastical" (1.1.15) also shows that he is a true romantic because he is in love with the concept of love rather than the person themselves. Furthermore, he line, "...Enough no more!" (1.1.7) contradicts with the previous line, "Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting," (1.1.4) which proves that Orsino is very dramatic in character because he constantly vacillates in his actions and desires. He is emotionally unstable at times in the play and thus acquires a dramatic behavior. In Act 5, Orsino delivers a speech to Olivia in order to express his broken heart and pine over his unreciprocated feelings. However, by drawing out the speech with allusions, excessive language, and metaphors, Shakespeare portrays Orsino as an overemotional and romance–driven character. Compared to Orsino's first Get more content on HelpWriting.net
  • 5. Twelfth Night Essay Twelfth Night Essay Twelfth Night is a comedy and a marvel. This play conveys many messages that are seen by the audience, but not seen by the characters in the play. There are many points involving love, friendship, conflicts and confusion. Twelfth Night displays characters that are mad, in love, and desperate for love. Twelfth Night has many conflicts that occur because characters fail to listen to messages. Viola is a character who has just thought that her brother has died in a shipwreck that they were both in. Viola disguises herself as a man to seek employment under the Duke Orsino's court. The confusion occurs, when Viola tells Orsino that she loves someone (Orsino), when she tells Olivia that she cannot love a woman, and when...show more content... She also speaks in a different manner than most men around her, which makes her a bit different. She does not like to fight, and does not act like a drunk. Viola/Cesario also speaks to Olivia about not loving a woman. Viola admits to Olivia that she is someone who cannot, and will not love another woman. Olivia, having fallen in love with Cesario/Viola, is blinded by love and does listen to Viola's important words. As Viola tries to tell Olivia that she cannot love her, Olivia just falls even more in love, which creates much more confusion between them. Viola, being annoyed with Olivia's stubborn character, says something that snaps Olivia out of her dream world. "Then think you right. I am not what I am." (III.I. 145–150) Viola hints to Olivia, as she did to Orsino, that she is different from her actual appearance. These characters, such as Olivia and Orsino, have gotten so caught up in their love, and search for love that they have caused confusion for all. Olivia's and Orsino's behaviour affects them personally. Olivia tries to convince Cesario/Viola to love her, but Viola, being intelligent, replies to Olivia. "I pity you." (III.I. 125–130) Viola explains her pity for Olivia, because she sees, how desperate Olivia is for love. No man would have responded this way to a lady such as Olivia, which shows some more of Viola's true personality and character. Viola has told Olivia her true feelings towards Get more content on HelpWriting.net
  • 6. Twelfth Night Motifs William Shakespeare presents a multitude of motifs in his comedy, Twelfth Night. The play reflects on the dangers or risks of messages and exposes character conflicts and motives. The repetition of the motif through characters' speeches and actions allows Shakespeare to capture the different facets of human emotion and interaction. The outcome of communicating messages to others differ, as the response can either be freeing or destructive. Shakespeare's Twelfth Night integrates the dynamics of communication into the play in order to display the power of messages over human emotions, disguises, and motives. Shakespeare reveals that communication has the power to both warn of the dangers of messages and the power to reveal the truth. Orsino's poetic allusions lead Viola to fall in love with him. He says to her as Cesario, "Thou know'st no less but all. I have unclasped / To thee the book even of my secret soul" (1.4.14–15). Orsino's use of literary symbolism of allows Viola to utilize her ability to see a person's true character to connect Orsino's emotions to a "book." Comparing his emotions to a "book" suggests that literature is the strongest power over humans. In the three days she has been his messenger, Orsino has confided in her his most internal thoughts and revealed that she opens the "book" of his "secret soul." Soon after, Viola tells Olivia...show more content... The poems in Twelfth Night symbolize both the values and the concealed risks of messages. When that form of communication is composed from the heart, it has the power to bring a character closer to falling in love. Messages in the form of objects can easily mislead and confuse a character, thus adulterating the true meaning of the message. Olivia's message foreshadows Viola's internal conflicts, as she soon realizes that Olivia's trick places her in a miserable love triangle where she loves Orsino, but he loves Olivia, and Olivia loves Get more content on HelpWriting.net