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How does Shakespeare use the theme of love to create a comedy?

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How does Shakespeare use the theme of love to create a comedy? "Twelfth Night" is a romantic comedy with true love at its heart. The play does have occasional dark undertones but generally the genuine love and the misunderstanding make it a comic play. It was written originally for the Twelfth Night celebrations after Christmas in 1602. These celebrations were light hearted and a time for revelry. It was sometimes known as the "Feast of Fools" and normal behaviour and sensible acts were suspended at this time. Authority was turned up side down. In most universities, private houses and the law schools, a Lord of Misrule was elected. Usually a servant became Master of the Household for a short period of time. He organised dances, masques and make-believe activities. Everything was allowed; pranks, deception, etc., ruled this period between 25th December and 6th January. Afterwards, everything goes back to normal and the original hierarchy is once more obeyed. Even though comedy is a large part of the play, love is most definitely the main theme. There are love triangles, love based on disguise and true love al involved in the lives of the characters. The play transforms one type of love for another, for example, selfish self-love is transformed to genuine love. This aspect shows that true love wins through in the end. Shakespeare uses all of the different types of love to create comedy towards the audience. For example, the self-love is so masochistic that the audience looks on with humour with the over-exaggeration. Unrequited love also makes quite a big romantic impact because the character is seen making a fool of themselves. ...read more.


There are several comic moments involving Viola where she gets herself caught up in situations that accentuate the comic nature of the play. Ironically Orsino fails to realise that his wonderful new servant is actually a woman despite the hinting conversations they have: QUOTE: ACT 1, SCENE 4 "Thy small pipe is as the maiden's organ" Here Orsino is speaking and commenting on Viola's unnatural high, shrill female voice yet he still does not catch on that she is actually a woman. This also has a slightly bawdy tone to it which was very popular at that time and would definitely have made the audience laugh. At the end of the scene the audience realises the romantic comedy is underway as Viola reveals her true feelings for Orsino: QUOTE: ACT X, SCENE X "I'll so my best to woo your lady (Aside) Yet a barful strife Whoe'er I woo myself would be his wife" The language here is romantic and wistful for Viola has to assist someone else, who she perceives not worthy of his love, to love Orsino although underneath she has true romantic feelings for him. Then Orsino sends Cesario to woo Olivia who falls in love with Viola! This is ironic and what starts off the love triangle. Shakespeare writes a speech for Viola to say to Olivia which is romantic, lyrical and paints vivid romantic pictures. It is also quite comical for the audience as they realise Olivia is in love with Viola. Viola can actually be quite witty and we can see this in her conversation with Maria: QUOTE: ACT 1, SCENE 5 "Some mollification for your giant Sweet lady" Viola is being rude and sarcastic to Maria referring to her as a "giant", therefore commenting on her lack of height. ...read more.


He has a very different perspective on love to the aristocratic figures in the play. Shakespeare ends the comedy with an epilogue from Feste, telling some very bitter thoughts about human nature, love and life. It ends with: QUOTE: ACT 5 SCENE 1 "But that's all one, our play is done And we'll strive to please you every day This is an acceptance of the sad conditions of life. A very unexpected end to a comedy. Feste is philosophical in all of his bitter songs and they all have poignant lines in them: QUOTE: ACT 2 SCENE 3 "Youth's a stuff will not endure This is a saying that youth, love and beauty will not last forever. Another sad line is: QUOTE: ACT 2 SCENE 4 "Sad true lover, never find my grave This tells us about how people hide away and die for love. Feste provides us with comedy about love but his main role in this play is to make the audience come back to their senses and realise the reality of life. Overall, this play has many ways to show how love and comedy combine to make a story of passion and heartbreak, love and unhappiness. Every character I have analysed here contributes towards the intense tone of the play, giving comedy and love to the audience. Yes, there are a few who reveal the darker undertones but these characters are essential in making the play as provoking, passionate and realistic that it is. QUOTE: ACT 5 SCENE 4 "A great while ago the world begun With hey, ho the wind and the rain But that's all one, our play is done, And we'll strive to please you every day" ...read more.

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