• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Describe the different forms of disguise and deception that feature in Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night'.

Extracts from this document...


Describe the different forms of disguise and deception that feature in Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night'. For this essay I shall try and describe the different forms of disguise and deception which appear in 'Twelfth Night'. The elements of both disguise and deception are both very important to the play, they bring confusion between the characters which add to the comical tones of the play. The main thought that we, the reader think of would be Viola's physical disguise as a male 'Cesario' which is one of the central plots that contribute to the comedy of the play. The thought of a male dressing up as a female (and vice versa) is increadibly funny to us today. This would work especially well on a stage, where the full impact of seeing someone trying to accumulate the characteristics of the opposite gender would hit the audience. Yet, because in Shakespeare's day, the female parts were played by boy actors, the original Elizabethan audience would have found a special sophistication in the part of Viola - which would have been a boy, dressing up as a woman, who in the play dresses up as a man. ...read more.


'Cesario' is drawn into a love triangle and falls in love with Orsinio, yet is somehow happy to 'Woo' Lady Olivia for him regardless of his/her feelings. However, the play gets even more confusing when Olivia Falls in love with 'Cesario' and begins to actively persue him. Although the possibility that Olivia may be in love with a woman is more upsetting to the tradtional structure. While Shakespeare's audience excused it as a case of mistaken identity, a modern audience may think it might have been something more. Olivia's attraction lies in the more feminine qualities of 'Cesario' like his 'Angry lip' or 'Beautiful Scorn'. This creates a debate among modern audiences of whether Olivia suspected or maybe even knew 'Cesario's' true gender, yet chose to love him/her anyway. Here Shakespeare is challenging the status quo as this challenges the traditonal role of the male being dominant in courtship and shows Olivia obtaining the role of 'The Woo-er'. As a result of this, Viola is unable to express her love for Orsino - for fear of rejection and therefore she is now trapped in a web of deception. ...read more.


Another good example of a character deceiving their true nature is when Malvolio is duped into the role of Olivia's suitor and changes from his old puritanical self into a smiling 'courtier'. He changes both his appearence and attitude because he thinks he is doing so for Olivia and even Malvolio's yellow stockings and cross garters are a masquerade. The dramatic convention of disguise creates uncertainties of the meaning and emotions throughout the play. A good example would be the lover's in 'Twelfth Night' who create two purposes. They firstly create humourous misunderstandings, but also challenge us as an audience into what we see in appearences, gender roles and 'platonic' same sex feelings. With male actors playing the female parts in the play, the idea of having a stable identitiy, may seem as misleading as disguises. However these disguised characters provide a wider significance by giving us a deeper meaning to ponder about what our beliefs and others are actually based upon. The play brings out the true natures of Olivia, Orsino and Malvolio to the surface. However, it is only Malvolio at the end who still seems unsure to recognise himself as he is blinded by his overwhelming pride and self- righteousness. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Twelfth Night section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Twelfth Night essays

  1. How does Shakespeare explore the theme of deception and self-deception in Twelfth Night?

    Upon his arrival to the story, he immediately disguises his ignorance of love by speaking in poetics form to deceive the audience and the characters around him. "If music be the food of love, play on" is promptly contrasted when he says "Enough, no more; 'Tis not so sweet as it was before".

  2. Discuss the different types of love presented in Twelfth Night

    From what he says we can see that he has a close relationship with his sister, Viola. It also shows that Sebastian is a sensitive person that loves his sister, Viola very much. Through even their times of sorrow and mourning for each of their apparent deaths they still loved each other.

  1. Twelfth Night is a feminist play. Discuss.

    Traditional ideas portray the males as active, practical, deep, wise, trustworthy persons, while females, as passive, emotional, shallow and deceptive persons. In the play, Twelfth Night, for instance, Orsino is shown as an emotional, irrational, shallow man, who is driven by his emotions.

  2. Examine the ways in which Shakespeare uses structure and language to dramatise the comparisons ...

    Orsino now speaks with more thought than his inattentive and egocentric speeches seen throughout the comedy. When Olivia admits her love for Cesario, Orsino becomes angry accusing his page of betrayal and surrenders Cesario despite loving him: "I'll sacrifice the lamb I love" Again the issue of homosexuality rises as

  1. Discuss the dramatic significance of Feste in TwelfthNight.

    will not endure', telling the audience that we should enjoy the present because the futures is as unpredictable as the weather: it could be good e.g. Viola-Orsino and Sebastian-Olivia, or it could be terrible e.g. Malvolio. Feste's ability to gain gender specific favour is distinct when encouraging Sir Toby to

  2. The Dramatic Importance of Act 1 Scenes 1 and 2 referring to other parts ...

    Another example of Olivia's emotional excess is her feelings for Cesario, which are extreme and lead her to be unaware of what is happening to Malvolio. Unlike Orsino and Olivia, who provide instances of emotional excess, Sir Toby is an example of literal excess as he drinks and revels too

  1. Twelfth Night is full of echoes and parallels. Consider how these contribute to the ...

    However, the love that Andrew and Malvolio have for Olivia is used for comic effect by Shakespeare as Sir Toby in particular, manipulates them for his own amusement, using their secret love for Olivia as a weapon.

  2. Twelfth Night, the themes of mistaken identities, disguise, true love and self-indulging love.

    This is both an imagery and metaphor as he refers music as the food of love and it can be seen that he is self-indulging in the idea of love since he imagines being fulfilled with the idea of love but becomes sick of it; that is, love as a form of gluttony.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work