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GCSE: Twelfth Night

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

    Although the play is a comedy, it can also be the beginning of a tragedy, as at this point in the play, Viola's love for Orsino almost costs her her life. However, I think that at the same time Shakespeare is trying to tell us that love is not always as serious as that. The characters of Orsino and Olivia are overdramatic and very self absorbed. They seem to be more obsessed with the thought of love than with love itself.

    • Word count: 2280
  2. How does Shakespeare manipulate the audience to dislike Malvolio towards the beginning of the play yet possibly sympathise with him by the end?

    These comments from Malvolio, only judging from the first few lines he speaks, soon make him appear, to the audience, to be an unattractive character. The next we see of Malvolio is in Act 2 Scene 3, and he enters after it has been made clear to the audience that all characters on stage (Maria, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Feste) were all having a pleasurable party. They were singing, drinking, dancing and joking around. The audience themselves feel involved in the party.

    • Word count: 2794
  3. What exactly is the purpose of Feste in 'Twelfth Night'?

    Adding a comedy in another way, Feste dresses up as Sir Topas, the curate, to prove someone else a fool; Malvolio. While in disguise, Feste uses humour to abuse Malvolio, who does not know he is talking to a clown. Feste, as Sir Topas, calls Malvolio a 'lunatic' and 'Satan'. As a result of his conversation with Malvolio, Feste has wittingly turned Malvolio into a fool, and, once again, shown his true wisdom. This scene also shows the underlying theme through the entire play as, although it is pitch black in the cellar where Malvolio is being kept, Feste still

    • Word count: 2393
  4. Twelfth Night is one of Shakespeare's best-loved and most performed comedies because it is a joyous celebration of romantic love. Do you agree?

    Orsino thinks he is in love with Olivia when it is obvious that he is not, Olivia thinks she is in love with Viola, and again it is evident that this is not true love. Also, Olivia was supposed to be in mourning for 7 years for her brother, yet she unveiled herself for Viola with little reluctance, proving that she didn't care enough for her brother and that she'd rather chase after men than mourn for her dead brother.

    • Word count: 2629
  5. Realtionship between Viola and Olivia

    He is very well favoured...one would think his mother's milk was scarce out of him'. Hearing that he is young, handsome and yet a delicate and determined man, she agrees to see him: 'Let him approach. Call in my gentlewoman' By talking to him, Olivia is rather surprised by the way he speaks so boldly and is so outright to her, and she questions him: 'What are you? What would you?' Cesario, being a female himself, can connect well with Olivia.

    • Word count: 2255
  6. Twelfth Night Coursework

    Puritans referred to theatres as houses of sin. Most of the audience attended the theatre regularly and would feel hurt by Puritan beliefs. In my opinion the most dramatic scene in the sub-plot is Act 2 Scene 5. This is where the secretive trick commences. Shakespeare uses visual humour, stage arrangements, dramatic irony and language to make this scene particularly dramatic. This is highlighted as the trick provides a humorous relief from the complexities of the love triangle. Near the start of the play Maria, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Feste's attempts to enjoy themselves would be ruined by Malvolio ordering them around: 'Have you no wit, manners nor honesty but to gabble like tinkers at this time of night?'

    • Word count: 2042
  7. Analyse and show how Shakespeare shapes the audience's perception of Olivia's steward, Malvolio.

    gone far enough in reforming the principles and structure of the church; they wanted to purify their national church by eliminating every shred of Catholic influence. Shakespeare knew this would mean that the audience would have already decided that they did not like this character. This would be because in the Elizabethan period, Puritans were opposed to ostentatious display, dress, finery and jewellery along with other colourful displays. The were looked upon with distain by theatre-goers because of their attempts to shut down the theatre, as they believed it was a "sinful place".

    • Word count: 2169
  8. How far do you agree with the view that Twelfth Night is a comedy where tragedy lurks just under the surface?

    However even though the play stands as a comedy, the tragedy of the character Malvolio and the cruelty shown towards him still questions the humanity of the audience and society in Elizabethan times in finding such a heartless and spiteful circumstance facetious. This play is clearly not a tragedy and even though much cruelty and vindictiveness is projected at Malvolio by the characters Sir Toby, Maria, Sir Andrew, Fabian and Feste; they are not evil, merciless characters of the play.

    • Word count: 2509
  9. Twelfth Night character analysis

    Also, Orsino uses hyperbole when he says "Me thought she purged the air of pestilence". He also says "And my desires, like fell and cruel hounds" meaning that he believes in love at first sight. Orsino is also a very fickle person and a self-centered man who only cares about himself. We know this, when Valentine, Orsino's messenger tells him that Olivia will be veiled for the next seven years and not meet with any man due to the death of her brother, Orsino starts thinking that if she loves her dead brother so much, she will love Orsino the same way when Cupid's arrow will hit her.

    • Word count: 2015
  10. Looking at Act 2 scene 5 and Act 3 scene 4 consider the role of Malvolio in Twelfth Night in terms of context, humour and whether or not you he deserves our sympathy

    Malvolio represents the puritan lifestyle. He does not smile or believe in having fun, which is why the trick is played on him in Act 2. This would be very funny to the audience and the characters in the play as they all know what is going on. Before he even stumbles upon the letter, he is day dreaming of being head of Olivia's house. 'To be Count Malvolio' is just one of the things he says. He is dreaming of being married to Olivia, but the impression we get from the first half of the scene is that he want to marry her for the power and not so much because he loves her.

    • Word count: 2239
  11. TWELFTH NIGHT COURSEWORK ACT 5 In the last act of the play the plot entanglements and confusions are not only sorted out

    The captain has been imprisoned by Malvolio though. Olivia decides to get Malvolio to set him free, but she remembers that Malvolio, too, is imprisoned for madness. It is at this point that Feste appears with Malvolio's love letter to Olivia. Feste then proceeds to read it aloud so that it sounds like it is a madman that has written it. However, Olivia and the other people in this scene do not fall for this and Fabian is asked to read the letter instead. Fabian then reads it sensibly and the other characters at this point realize the mistake that Malvolio is not mad.

    • Word count: 2171
  12. Twelfth Night- Act 1

    She is the character whose love seems the purest. She is not self-seeking but self-sacrificing. She speaks simply and directly about her love in a language that is not affected but sincere. The other characters' passions are fickle. Viola's love for Orsino is constant and deep. Only Viola seems to be truly, passionately in love as opposed to being self-indulgently lovesick. Viola's chief problem throughout the play is one of identity. The plots device of disguise enables Shakespeare to suggest that Viola is a more complex character than might appear at first sight.

    • Word count: 2302
  13. The main theme of the play is mistaken identities. The three main characters are Orsino, a Duke, Olivia, a countess, and Viola, a woman who dresses as a man so she can be a servant to Orsino

    I will discuss these to see if they have any humour among them. Malvolio is a servant who thinks he is more superior than he actually is. Before he finds the love letter he is day-dreaming about himself being married to Olivia. Malvolio says "There is example for't: the lady of Strachy married the yeomen of the wardrobe -." This would be funny because Sir Toby Belch, Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Fabien, a friend of theirs, are hiding in the bushes listening and watching Malvolio.

    • Word count: 2060
  14. I agree to a certain extent that twelfth night is a feminist play. What exactly is feminism? It simply means subversion of traditional ideas of gender. This means that men are supposed to be active, rational, wise, perceptive, loyal and trustworthy. On...

    When Feste said the above he was being brave and persistent. His ultimate motive was to challenge Olivia and to prove her a fool, Olivia likes challenges and therefore she agreed to let him speak by telling him "Well, sir, for want of other idleness, I'll bide your proof". She is telling him that she has got nothing to do and therefore she does not mind listening to what he has got to say, but the truth is that she is curious and is accepting the challenge and in addition she is rather excited for it because a challenge is all she wants. The women in this play are also sacrificial.

    • Word count: 2514
  15. Twelfth Night

    Viola-Cesario is sent for as a messenger of Orsino's love to Olivia. After an unsuccessful mission, Viola-Cesario is given Olivia's ring by her steward, Malvolio, on the way back to Orsino's court. Viola-Cesario realizes Olivia is infatuated with her. For first time, Viola sees that disguising as other gender is a sin. Disguise, I see thou art a wickedness Wherein the pregnant enemy does much. (Act two Scene 2 line 24) She found that Olivia, Orsino and herself are now all in pain about unfruitful loves.

    • Word count: 2596
  16. What are the contrasted attitudes to love in Twelfth Night and how are they linked to social class and social climbing?

    Lines 2-3, 1:1) by adding on that he hopes that if he feeds on too much of the music he will get sick of it and his love will die after 'eating' too much of the music. Also from this speech, we can tell the Orsino is of high social class, since his language is that of courtly love. He uses many fancy and royal words and phrases (act 1, scene 1, lines 1-15 eg. 'high fantastical') and makes his speech sound very high class.

    • Word count: 2605
  17. Twelfth Night is one of Shakespeare's best-loved and most performed comedies because it is a joyous celebration of romantic love. Do you agree?

    Throughout the play there are many themes, which appear more than once and for different people in different situations. The main and most important theme in Twelfth Night is love. Shakespeare portrays love in many different ways. Love has different effects on different people in the play and usually has the effect of turning their lives upside-down. Another of the themes in Twelfth Night is folly and love is closely related to this in the play. In the opening scene of the play we meet Orsino who is wallowing in his love for Olivia.

    • Word count: 2170
  18. Analyse the different methods that Shakespeare uses to inject humour into this play - Make close reference to the text.

    It is my belief, that the Elizabethan audiences were more likely to have found the method of disguise, more humorous than a more modern audience may find it. My reason for believing so is that as mentioned above, female roles were played by men during the Elizabethan times, however more recently, female roles are played by female actresses. This, I believe denies the modern audiences of that extra element of humour which played a significant part during the Elizabethan plays.

    • Word count: 2468
  19. How does Shakespeare create and use comedy in the play Twelfth Night?

    Although all three of these characters claim to be in love only Viola is actually in love. Both Orsino and Olivia are in love with the idea and concept of love. Orsino claims to love Olivia but barely knows her and over exaggerates his love for her. In Act 1: Scene 1 Orsino opens the play with his feelings for his love for Olivia, 'If music be the food of love, play on, Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, The appetite may sicken and so die.' Orsino is ordering the musicians to use up all the love sick thoughts that are torturing him with the help of their music.

    • Word count: 2442
  20. With references to four characters of your choice, discuss the various ways the theme of love is portrayed in 'Twelfth Night'.

    Orsino is lovesick over Lady Olivia. The love that Orsino has for Olivia is unrequited love. 'If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it.' The duke himself says this, to Curio and it is about Olivia. It shows that he is lovesick over her. The duke, Orsino, describes his love a few times. 'For such as I am, all true lovers are unstaid and skittish in all motions else save in the contant image of the creature that is beloved.'

    • Word count: 2241
  21. How Successful Is Shakespeare In Making The Opening Of Twelfth Night Interesting And Entertaining For The Audience?

    (Lower characters, such as servants etc used prose in their speech). The Duke would appeal to other wealthy people in the audience, making them interested in his character. Props on the stage may also give the audience an impression of what status Orsino has in society, such as a couch for example. Or costumes, the actor that played Orsino would perhaps have on a jacket so he would stand out more than the other characters in the audience. The Duke's mood in this speech is love stick and frustrated, which he is like for most of the play, so this

    • Word count: 2228
  22. Twelfth Night - Consider Shakespeare's portrayal of Malvolio throughout the play and say how much sympathy you feel he deserves by the end'

    Malvolio does not really like any of them at all and they dislike Malvolio just as much. He takes great pleasure in being asked (by Olivia) to go down stairs and shut them up. This is evident when he says; 'My masters are you mad? Or what are you? Have you no wit, manners, nor honesty, but to gabble like tinkers at this time of night? Do ye make an alehouse of my lady's house....' This speech tells me certain things about Malvolio's personality.

    • Word count: 2969
  23. How much knowledge do the characters in Twelfth Night, show about what they are? How they think? What they do?

    She even subtly hinted to the Duke how she felt but her clever language technique made it ambiguous. She is also very aware of where she stands in many situations. When she realises Olivia has fallen in love with her and that she is caught up in a love triangle, she knows there is little she can do, saying: " O time thou must untangle this, not I!/ It is too hard a knot for me to untie." She admits it is out of her depth.

    • Word count: 2669
  24. Discuss the Various Forms of Love in Twelfth Night

    He seems almost unaware of his inferior social status but the others take some delight in reminding him of it: 'Go, sir, rub your chain with crumbs' (II.3.101). Malvolio often oversteps his position by rebuking the other members of Olivia's house, even though both Sir Andrew and Sir Toby are of a higher social status than himself. Led by Maria, a trap is set for Malvolio to uncover him as the 'overweening rogue' they believe him to be. Prior to his discovery of the letter he is overheard by Maria, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, Feste and Fabian (who are in hiding so as to witness Maria 'gull him into an ayword' with her letter)

    • Word count: 2753
  25. Which is the most important aspect of love demonstrated in the play Twelfth Night?

    He is also very chauvinistic believing a man's love to be stronger than a woman's "As love doth give my heart; no woman's heart so big, could hold so much; they lack attention". Another example of self love is Olivia. Olivia is so wrapped up in herself that, for sympathy and perhaps to get rid of Orsino, she vows that she is going to mourn her brother for seven years. We know this because, at the beginning, Valentine says to Orsino "the element itself, till seven years' heat, shall not behold her face at ample view; but like a cloistress she will veiled walk".

    • Word count: 2089

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Discuss the similarities and differences between Olivia and Viola in "Twelfth Night".

    "So then, to conclude, Shakespeare undoubtedly intended the audience to draw some parallels and recognise a number of similarities between the characters Viola and Olivia, which is suggested by the similarity of their names, their situation and their link with Orsino. However, this does not mean to say they are necessarily similar in character - as illustrated above they are clearly not. Viola is, amongst many things, practical, sensible, sympathetic and very much in control. In complete contrast, Olivia is emotional, sentimental and changeable. However, this does not mean to say that one character is better or worse than the other - though throughout the play Shakespeare makes it very clear that they posses different traits, ultimately they are "good" people, and this "finished product" is a great deal more important than the route taken by each in order to achieve this."

  • To what extent does Twelfth Night fit the genre of a romantic comedy?

    "In conclusion, we can see from many examples, that love twists the character's ideals and morals around, turning them into little more than fools, desperate to be with the ones they love. Throughout the play, the most common type of love shown, is the sexual lust the characters show for another, because most of the character's do not know their counterparts enough to love them on anything else other than appearance. In answer to the title of this essay, we can infer that Twelfth Night fits Shakespeare's genre of romantic comedy, almost perfectly. 4/12/02 English Coursework Essay"

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