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

Discuss the use of disguise and deception in Twelfth Night and its contribution to the play.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Discuss the use of disguise and deception in Twelfth Night and its contribution to the play. Deception and disguise are two key themes in Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night'. They appear in many different ways throughout the duration of the plot. Some disguises are deceptive and some deceptions are disguised. This essay will explore disguise and deception in the characters and situations in 'Twelfth Night' and discuss their symbolism in relation to the play as a whole. One of the most overt examples of disguise is through the character of Viola. Stranded in Illyria after a shipwreck, she dresses as a male in order to work as a Eunuch for the Duke Orsino 'Thou shall present me as an eunuch to him' (Line 58, Act one, scene two). Through her disguise, Viola manages to deceive Lady Olivia, who falls deeply in love with 'Cesario' 'Cesario...I love thee so that maugre all thy pride' (Act three, scene one). Olivia tries to disguise her feelings but the repressed passion is revealed 'I wish you were as I would have you be' (Act three, scene one). Having given herself to mourning, there is a sense of desperation here. Viola finds it very difficult to disguise her love for Orsino 'never told her love, but let concealment, like a worm i'the bud, feed on her damask' (Act two, scene four). ...read more.

Middle

In this way, Viola is deceived. When Sir Toby tires of Sir Andrew; he rejects him 'Will you help? An ass head and a coxcomb and a knave - a thin faced knave, a gull' (Act five, scene one). This rejection is very harsh. The illusion of Sir Toby's humorous character, revealed in earlier scenes, quickly disperses to reveal a darker, crueller personality. Again, the audience has been deceived. Love is deceptive in 'Twelfth Night'. At the beginning of the play, Orsino believes that he is in love with Olivia 'If music be the food of love, play on' (Act one, scene one). It becomes quite clear, however, that he is in love with the notion of love because his love quickly turns to hate 'Live you the marble-breasted tyrant still' (Act five, scene one). Eventually, after finding out the true identity of 'Cesario', he asks Viola to marry him, but only after she removes the male disguise 'Cesario come; for so you shall be, whilst you are a man' (Act five, scene one). Olivia is also deceived in 'Twelfth Night'. She believes that she is in love with 'Cesario' yet she does not know that he is Viola 'I am the man. If it be so - as tis, she were better love a dream' (Act two, scene two). Before the appearance of Sebastian at the end of the play, Olivia is utterly confused and feels deceived 'Ay me detested! ...read more.

Conclusion

Sebastian's role in the play is to strip the illusion of disguise and sort out the confusion 'Sebastian is the reality of which Cesario is the artful imitation' (1). He is confused by the affections of Olivia and the aggression from Sir Andrew Aguecheek 'There's something in't that is deceivable' (Act four, scene three). Despite this, his presence allows a happy ending for all the characters who accept that they have been deceived. The only character who cannot recognise himself at the end is Malvolio because he is 'blinded by pride and self-righteousness' (1). This is why his ending is not happy. Disguise is used to bring comedy into the plot but also teaches the audience about the importance of seeing ourselves and others for who we really are. Whether our disguise be something physical (like Olivia's veil or Viola's male disguise), or something more abstract (Feste's words are an example of this), whilst ever we are 'pretending' to be who we are not, we are deceiving ourselves and others around us. Although Twelfth Night is a comedy, there is a serious message behind all the confusion and many characters get hurt in the quest for happiness. It is not until the characters remove their disguises that they can really achieve their aspirations and the audience - who have also been deceived - can return happily to reality, in the knowledge that all characters got what they deserved in the end. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE 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 GCSE Twelfth Night essays

  1. Examine the Levels of Deception in Twelfth Night Twelfth Night is a play ...

    is but patched: virtue that transgresses is but patched with sin; and sin that amends is but patched with virtue." This is not the type of comment that a foolish person would be expected to make; and so we see clearly that the title 'fool' is only a front, and that Feste's true character is very different.

  2. What is the function of disguise in Twelfth Night ?

    Viola much trouble so far, although there is great comic effect in watching Viola attempting to be something she's not. Another factor that would have had great comical effect if the play were being acted on stage, would be the fact that the actor playing Viola would have been a man.

  1. How does Shakespeare explore the theme of love in Twelfth Night(TM)?

    Shakespeare explores courtly love through the characters of Orsino and Olivia. This love is a historical way of courting someone, and involves putting them on a pedestal and worshipping them from a far. Orsino's love for Olivia is courtly. He sends his servants to woo her and 'unfold the passions' of his love to her.

  2. Discuss the theme of appearance and reality in Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night'.

    his time and didn't really realise that Viola wasn't one and mistook her for a eunuch because of her high-pitched voice. Malvolio is one of the smartest characters in the play however his pompous personality gets him into trouble with Sir Toby, Olivia's kinsman.

  1. What are the contrasted attitudes to love in Twelfth Night and how are they ...

    This is because in Elizabethan times, if a woman who had sex was thought of too be a peasant or of low class, so we can tell that she still cares about her social class. We also can tell that her words are ambiguous because we are still not sure

  2. What Types of love does Shakespeare explore in Twelfth Night?

    Basically Sir Toby and Fabian are having a laugh at Sir Andrew's expense. Sir Toby convinces Sir Andrew that he has beautiful hair, 'Excellent; it hangs like flax on a distaff; and I hope to see a huswife take thee between her legs and spin it off' and when Sir

  1. Twelfth Night has been described as a play of contrast-light and darkness; humour and ...

    Orsino used Viola to do his own deeds. "I'll do my best to woo your lady". Orsino is using Viola to his advantage, to get Olivia to fall in love with him. One of the few serious characters in the play is honest at heart, but wears a disguise on the surface.

  2. "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when at first we practice to deceive" ...

    The audience know this is so she can get close to him. In act two we meet Viola's identical twin brother, Sebastian, who thinks Viola is dead, and Malvolio persuses Cesario with Olivia's ring. This is when Viola realises that Olivia likes Cesario.

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