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How does the start of the Twelfth Night establish some of the key features of comedy?

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´╗┐Enyo Agada A-level English Lit How does the start of the Twelfth Night establish some of the key features of comedy? From the very first scene of the play, we are introduced to a nobleman who takes himself and his romantic pursuits far too seriously. Orsino is introduced as a Petrarchan lover (when a love for a unattainable beautiful woman is not returned lover suffers.), pining away for the one woman in Illyria whom he cannot woo?presumably not the most serious of problems that a man of his importance might have to face. Petrarch in his poetry created a distance, unworthiness, between the loved one and the lover. The female is idealized and the male should be content to worship her from afar. The man places the woman on a pedestal ? an unequal relationship is implied. This makes the last characteristic of comedy, i.e. procreation, impossible. A Petrarchan lover must be taught a more reasonable, more practical attitude toward love. This is a major theme in Twelfth Night. Wallowing in sappy self-pity, Orsino beckons his musicians to play the most heartrending song they can muster, declaring in a famous line, ?If music be the food of love, play on.? Orsino is the first of many characters we meet who amuses and entertains us mainly because they take themselves far too seriously and are blind to their own foolishness. ...read more.


a brother, How will she love?? By allowing Orsino to react to show bad news in this way, Shakespeare is able to highlight once again to lack of foresight and wisdom Orsino has and also the foolishness of the human heart. In the start of Twelfth Night, Viola is presented as being independent and smarter than what women were expected to be during this time. She subverts gender role expectations just by the way she reacts to the news that her brother may be dead and the quick thinking that follows. Rather than becoming weak and upset because she is alone in a foreign country without any protection, she takes initiative and decides to disguise herself as a young man in order to get a place in Orsino?s court. Inn doing this Shakespeare creates a clear image of Viola?s character and shows us that she is strong willed and brave, many qualities expected of a man, but that she is also cautious and able to realise her weaknesses. Thus leading to her decision to dress as a eunuch, which she believes is the safest and easiest way to blend into life in Illyria, but which the audience knows will serve as a great source of comedy and trouble during the play. ...read more.


He often does not understand the simplest word he hears, ?Accost, Sir Andrew? Good Mistress Accost.? This simple yet effectively placed play on words and lewd jokes that creates a comical scene. In Act 1, scene 3 Shakespeare uses bawdy humour to create comedy. From the opening of the scene with the interchange between Sir Andrew and Maria, ?I pray you, bring your hand to the buttery-bar and let it drink.? the audience is introduced to their rude and sexually charged humour. Rather than outright sex jokes Shakespeare uses innuendos and bawdiness in order to appeal to all audiences. During the original productions there will have been a wide variety of people watching the play, be it poor, rich, children or the very old. So Shakespeare wanted the play to be suitable for the more innocent members of the audience whilst still being able to amuse those who could understand the well placed innuendos such as ?draw sword again.? And ?Sir Andrew: ?fair lady, do you think you have fools in hand? Maria: Sir, I have not you by the hand.? It is such well-placed pun?s that create such enjoyable comedy for all audiences. By Enyo Agada Mr Bean ...read more.

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