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

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

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐Characters and events are important factors in plays as their interactions throughout the plot develop the central ideas or themes that the author wishes to communicate to the audience. Some common themes are investigations into common human experiences that may involve complex moral issues or questions the integrity of relationships. A play which uses characters and events to explore such important themes is Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. The dominant themes Shakespeare introduces in Twelfth Night are love and deception. Love and deception are critical in that they embody the values for humans in today's society since love comforts humans and bring them together while deception is the betrayal of truth and honesty which causes separation and anguish. Shakespeare uses these themes in order to demonstrate a rich variety of relationships. Shakespeare presents love throughout the play to provide the audience with his perspective on love as it exists in human society including self-love, selfless love and true love. Shakespeare illustrates the different aspects of love throughout the play by the language used including soliloquies, metaphors, motifs and symbols. Self-love is one's self indulgence disguised as love in order to fulfill or satisfy one's egotism. ...read more.


I do not now fool myself, to let imagination jade me; for every reason excites to this, that my lady loves me.' By contrast, true love is a strong affection that one has for another which is constant, while selfless love is when one truly loves another but does not show it and has the courage to sacrifice for their love. The characters Viola and Antonio express true and selfless love in Twelfth Night. In the love triangle between Viola, Orsino and Olivia, Viola is the only character who is truly in love. She loves Orsino and wants to send the message across to him but realises she has to suffer for the consequences of being in disguise as a man. Her selfless and passionate love can be seen when she describes herself as someone else, 'She pined in thought, And with a green and yellow melancholy, She sat like Patience on a monument, Smiling at grief. Was this not love?' This interprets that although she had to suffer from a forced silence in her passionate feelings for Orsino, she patiently accepted and waited in grief. ...read more.


He also uses deception that is in jest to create dramatic irony in the play which is created in the play when Malvolio is tricked to dress up in crossed garters and yellow stocking and act absurdly in order to please Olivia (Act III Scene IV). Further, mistaken identity is the state of being mistaken for someone else because of the appearance similarity which can cause disasters such as a tangled situation. Mistaken identities are seen in the events that unfold such as when Viola is mistaken as Sebastian while Sebastian is mistaken as Viola. This resulted in Antonio emotionally suffering as he thought he was betrayed by Sebastian destroying the relationship between Antonio and Sebastian (Act III Scene IV). Shakespeare's characterisation in choosing Viola and Sebastian to be twins was to bring together Viola and Sebastian together to resolve the confused and tangled situations such as the love triangle. This is why deception is unwanted and is often thought as a negative aspect of relationships between loved ones. Thus, themes are shaped by the characters, the relationship between them and the events that surround the characters. This is clearly demonstrated in Twelfth Night through mistaken identities, disguise, true love and self-indulging love. ...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?

    This is where Viola's true love for Orsino is being shown as she sacrifices her own happiness for Orsino's by helping him get what he want. This deceit also intertwines humor and romance, with Olivia falling in love with 'Cesario' causing the humor, and the unspoken love from Viola to Orsino bringing out the romance.

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

    Each character says or thinks a number of things that are ironically false and often humorous, while the audience has the luxury of seeing past the deception and realising how wrong the characters are about one another. Sir Toby, Fabian and Maria are the conspirators behind Malvolio's downfall, who is the unsuspecting victim of Maria's deceitful letter.

  1. Twelfth Night is a feminist play. Discuss.

    In comparison, as mentioned before, Viola is a rational woman, whom when she first reaches a foreign land, does not whine or complain, but thinks ahead, and the first thing she asks is logical, "What country, friends, is this?" This, in comparison, is also coincidentally running concurrently with the traditional ideas of the male.

  2. Cruelty in "Twelfth Night"

    This is cruelty to Viola, as Orsino does not know what he is saying to her, in relation to what has happened to her and who she is. There is a similarity between Viola and Olivia shown in this, and in an extra scene, which is added into the Nunn film, of the misfortunes that have befallen the two.

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

    rich when canopied with bowers" He depends a lot on the external environment in order for him to feel like he's in love. This suggests he is more in love with the idea and atmosphere of love and not really in love at all.

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

    The second scene begins poignantly with Viola's grief of being separated from her twin brother, Sebastian. This is the second reference to grief in the play and it emphasises the strange way in which the play begins, particularly as it is meant to be a comedy.

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

    We can see this from the quote, "I do I know not what, and fear to find/ Mine eye too great a flatterer for my mind.". This quote tells us that she is carried away by what she feels and what she sees but by not her mind.

  2. Love as a Cause of Suffering - Twelfth Night is a romantic comedy, and ...

    For Feste, the disguise completes his assumption of a new identity´┐Żin order to be Sir Topas, he must look like Sir Topas. Viola puts on new clothes and changes her gender, while Feste and Malvolio put on new garments either to impersonate a nobleman (Feste)

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