• 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. What part does deception of one kind or another play in Twelfth Night?

    his 'element ' and this feeds his unexpected ambition to the point where he is able to be fooled by Sir Toby and Maria's trickery. He is deceived completely, and Sir Toby remarks '. . . thou hast put him in such a dream, that when the image of it leaves him, he must run mad.'

  1. Twelfth Night is a feminist play. Discuss.

    This is inferred from the entire Act 1, Scene 1, where he whines about his deep love for Olivia, and for instance, "Away before me to sweet beds of flowers!/Love thoughts lie rich when canopied with bowers!" This statement alone shows how he is full of emotions, and from how

  2. Cruelty in "Twelfth Night"

    They are both mourning for dead brothers, at this stage of the play Viola is; they are both orphans; they have similar names; I think that Shakespeare possibly meant for this similarity so that they can both be seen as unfortunate girls whose lives have taken extremely different courses.

  1. Discuss the dramatic significance of Feste in Twelfth Night.

    mourned her brother but broke it when she set eyes on Cesario someone she has just met, this could show she is only interesting in good looking or charming men and falls for them shortly after the first meetings. This is unlike Feste as he does not even show love

  2. Discuss the different kinds of love presented in the play.

    On the outside, he appears to be devoted to Olivia and constantly praises her but inside he is actually more in love with himself and with the idea of being in love. On the outside, he appears to be the romantic lover but inside he is overly sentimental and wallows in his emotions.

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

    In the introduction to the Aden edition the critics Lothian and Craik aptly comment that the opening scene offers us a 'situation: the irresistible force (Orsino's passion) opposing the immoveable object (Olivia's self seclusion)'. This scene leaves the audience with lots of further questions before the start of scene 2.

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

    Sir Andrew is similarly guilty of self-love. He thinks that people love him because he is witty and dashing. He also reveals a vain disposition of himself, being accused of self-love. We can see from the quote, "Faith, I can cut a caper." shows us that Sir Andrew is being vain as he praises himself.

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