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"An Exploration of Humour in Twelfth Night".

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Daniel Serrage U5N Monday 29^th September "An Exploration of Humour in Twelfth Night" While reading "Twelfth Night", I realised that the audience would notice that there are many aspects of humour evident. Someone might think or argue that this theme is much more present "Twelfth Night" than other play's written by William Shakespeare, such as "Romeo and Juliet" the theme is that of a forbidden love. In a lot of Shakespeare's play's they seem to move from chaos at the start of the play to harmony at the end of the play, "Twelfth Night" also follows this pattern, to a contemporary audience they may find it quite funny, but to a 21^st century audience they would just see this as a pattern. Humour, appears in different forms both in real life and in "Twelfth Night". Sometimes it is in the form of verbal humour, sometimes visual and other times in forms, which cannot be categorised. Among the difficult forms to categorise (and paradoxically these can be visual or verbal) is humour, which is not always primarily funny. In "Twelfth Night", there is a specific character who we would find funny by his drunken antics, he is the uncle to the fair lady Olivia and is called Sir Toby Belch, in "Twelfth Night" Sir Toby is a lord of misrule, in Shakespeare's era in great households, at time of festivities a servant would be allowed for say a weekend ...read more.


In Act 3, Scene 4, we see a very humorous scene where Malvolio is dressed in such a way that visually funny, this episode is very cruel trick, but Malvolio is the butt of a much more important trick in terms of its effects within the play. "He's coming, madam; but in a very strange manner. He is sure possessed, madam." (III iiii 8-9). This is because of the letter written by "Olivia", which causes Malvolio to act as a fool dressing in: "...yellow stockings, and wished to see thee ever cross-gartered" (II iiiii 136-7) I think that the audience in this case will be laughing to Malvolio because in the play he is not seen as being a good man but a bad on as his name suggests (Mal = Bad; volio = to want), the opposite of "benevolent", but also for the way he is dressed, and I can say that having watched a production myself I can safely say that the audience did indeed the way Malvolio was dressed and the consequences of this joke played on him very funny, who thinks highly of himself and is self-important as we see when he reads the letter and shows his bumptiousness. So far we have mainly focused on the effect of visual humour on the stage and how it makes people laugh. ...read more.


Another comic situation caused by the disguising of Viola is when Sir Andrew wants to fight Viola and the people watching realise that both of them are not very good swordsman; Andrew because he is too stupid and awkward and Viola because she is a woman and does not know how to fight. So considerable scope for visual humour as two incompetent fighters each believe the other can fight well. For the same reason, Shakespeare writes a funny episode; this is when Olivia first sees "Cesario" and falls in love at first sight. The audience would remember that she (Olivia) was supposed to mourn for seven years, but might be pleased at how readily she abandoned her foolish course when first seeing Cesario, who ironically was someone else. The reason why mourning once a day for seven years is foolish is because in Elizabethan times women usually married young (mid-teens plus) and in Olivia's case after seven years she would be "unfit" to marry. In the recent production of "Twelfth Night" that I saw at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre, there was an added piece of comedy that was added by that productions director, that is the addition of water on the stage, the floor was drenched and this added a slapstick style to the humour. Having explored "Twelfth Night" and its aspects of humour, we can safely say that to both a contemporary and modern audience this is a very funny play, with many sides to its humour. [image002.gif] ...read more.

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