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And what should I do in Illyria?

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Introduction

And what should I do in Illyria? My brother, he is in Elysium. (1.2.2-3) Viola believes that her brother has drowned during the storm that wrecked the ship. She asks what is to become of her now that her brother is no longer alive to protect her. Elysium, the classical Greek equivalent to heaven represents a place of peace and eternal joy. The similarity in the sounds of the names seems to link Illyria with Elysium, suggesting a place of security and happiness. The inference is that Illyria will eventually provide the healing that Viola needs after the (apparent) loss of her brother. (Go to the quote in the There is a fair behaviour in thee, captain And though that nature with a beauteous wall Doth oft close in pollution, yet of thee I well believe thou hast a mind that suits With this thy fair and outward character. (1.2.43-47) Viola confides her plans for disguising herself as a boy to the Sea-Captain who has saved her from the storm. She comments that although a fair and kindly exterior can sometimes conceal a corrupt soul, she believes that the Captain's nature is as true and loyal as his appearance suggests. ...read more.

Middle

In 4.1 he initially decides that "this is a dream/...If it be thus to dream, still let me sleep" (4.1.60-62). The dreamlike state continues and in 4.3 he is desperately trying to seek some kind of explanation for the situation he finds himself in. He tries to convince himself that "'tis not madness" (4.3.4), and "this may be some error but no madness" (4.3.10), but is finally forced to conclude "that I am mad,/Or else the lady's mad" (4.3.15-16). Sebastian's 'dream' is temporary in that the apparent madness is dispelled when the identity of the twins is finally revealed and he can claim Olivia as his wife. However Malvolio's experience in the dark house turns his 'dream' into a living nightmare in which his protestations of sanity are ignored and he is humiliated and humbled. (Go to the quote in the Come, we'll have him in a dark room and bound. My niece is already in the belief that he's mad. (3.4.130-1) Sir Toby's injunction continues the motif of madness, but introduces a darker and more troublesome side to the play. ...read more.

Conclusion

Illyria 'seems' like a real place with a sea-coast, storms and ruling dukes, but it too is not as it seems to be. It is a make-believe world of illusion and fantasy comparable with Shakespeare's other 'created', 'magical' worlds: the forest of Arden in As You Like It, and Ephesus the fifteenth and sixteenth century, masques, disguisings and the Feast of Fools (an ecclesiastic festival which involved an inversion of social hierarchy as members of the lesser clergy dressed up as their superiors to ridicule and mock the routine practices of the church) were closely associated with Twelfth Night. It is this carnival spirit which presides over Shakespeare's comedy as gender becomes a masquerade in Viola's transformation into Cesario, aristocrats fall in love with servants (and vise versa), and stewards entertain absurd delusions of grandeur. The audience is asked to suspend their disbelief in this Discovery Age theme park where fraternal twins appear identical, love at first sight is not an uncommon occurrence, and a narcissistic duke agrees to accept as his "fancy's queen" a woman who only five minutes before functioned as his male page.3 As Bloom asserts, "Twelfth Night is a highly deliberate outrage."4 ...read more.

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