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

Examine the Levels of Deception in Twelfth Night

Extracts from this document...


Examine the Levels of Deception in Twelfth Night Twelfth Night is a play that depends on deceptions. Without deception none of the plays major storylines could exist in the way that they do. As might be expected, the deceptions fall into different types of deception, and also many different levels. These can be described as levels of importance- some involving whole plots and some only a few minor events- and levels of how obvious each deception is. The deceptions come in many different guises, including deliberate deception, self-deception and others. Deliberate deception is crucial to the plot. One aspect of this is the element of disguise. This can be divided into literal disguise, in the form of characters altering their appearance, and the fa�ade which characters present to the world in order to seem different to how they really are. Probably the most important and far reaching deception in the play is Viola's disguise as a man, 'Cesario'. This has many consequences for herself and others. She first disguises herself for protection in a foreign land, she wishes the sea captain to help her dress as a man so that she can find employment. The consequences of this are central to the play. If Viola had not perpetuated this deception she would not have met Orsino, and similarly Olivia and Sebastian may never have married. ...read more.


This also contains a hint that the 'friendship' between Sir Andrew and Sir Toby is a deception in itself as Sir Toby does not hesitate to use Sir Andrew for entertainment in much the same way as he earlier used Malvolio. There are also hints given that Sir Toby only wants Sir Andrew around for his money; he says, "I have been dear to him, lad, some two thousand strong or so". This is one of the deepest levels of deception in the play. If it is true then the entire friendship of these two characters is based on a deception. This is a serious issue, which contrasts with the comic theme of the play. This deception is never actually specified, only hinted at. Characters in Twelfth Night often deceive other people, but they are just as likely to deceive or delude themselves. Malvolio is a great sufferer of this. He believes himself to be universally popular. Aptly noted by Olivia: "O, you are sick of self love Malvolio" His extreme egotism provides comedy for the audience, and a ground for his deception over the letter, as he also believes mistakenly that Olivia loves him and may marry him. This shows once again his deceptively high opinion of himself; that he thinks he may marry into the upper echelons of society despite being only a steward. ...read more.


Other characters who demonstrate this less than admirable quality include Sebastian when he accepts Olivia's invitation, and Malvolio who selfishly wants higher social status. Sir Toby also lives his life purely for his own pleasure, with alcohol, mischief and enjoyment all forming large parts. Twelfth Night therefore depends upon deception; without deception there would be no play. This is the obvious conclusion to be drawn. However, to state a definite hierarchy of deception would be impossible, as the deceptions are linked, intertwined and interdependent. Many of them relate to the main plot involving Olivia, Orsino, Viola and Sebastian whilst a substantial number of others contribute to the subplot of the gulling of Malvolio. Each 'minor' deception subtly helps lead to the conclusion of the play, and each is therefore important. The most important deception is Viola's disguise as 'Cesario', but after this it becomes harder to distinguish a hierarchy. It is important to realise that there is more to 'Twelfth Night' than originally meets the eye. What is indeed a very comical play also conveys a serious message about human nature, shown through the excesses of its main characters and their deceit. Shakespeare causes the majority of his characters to become deceived but perhaps he also deceives his audience into thinking that the play is merely 'for fun'. The conclusion to be drawn is that deception is the heart of the play, in all its aspects. Joanne Lancaster, 12.8 ...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 ...

    Shakespeare's use of the name 'Topas' is important, as the semi-precious stone topas was renowned for its ability to cure madness. Members of Shakespeare's audience may have known this, and would find it humorous related to the fact that Malvolio was said to be mad.

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

    This shows that he only wants to marry Olivia to better himself so that he can throw Sir Toby out of Olivia's house. Shakespeare explores this love, to show that love should be selfless, but is not always so. False Love is also explored by Shakespeare through his use of

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

    The other characters see through his self-delusion 'go rub your chains with crumbs!' (Act two, scene three). In this line, Sir Toby reminds Malvolio of his 'Steward' position - his chain representing his job. Malvolio is badly deceived by Sir Toby, Maria and Feste with 'Olivia's' letter.

  2. How does Shakespeare create and use comedy in the play Twelfth Night?

    Shakespeare uses comic situations or farce with this comic plot. Shakespeare ridicules the most hated character in the play in Malvolio. This amuses the audience because it is natural for somebody to laugh when someone is ridiculed. There is also the use of dramatic irony.

  1. How does Shakespeare use the theme of disguise and concealment to dramatic effect in ...

    Thus, this concealment is used to highlight the flaw in his personality in which he is deluded that she would even love him and his craving for power. Another example of Shakespeare using disguise and concealment to a dramatic effect is when Feste dresses up as Sir Topaz to fool Malvolio.

  2. Discuss the different types of love presented in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

    she is not going to love her back, which is why viola says that she will rather love a dream where things come true. One of the main type of love highlighted in this scene is the love triangle: 'O time, though must untangle this, not I; It is too hard a knot for me t' untie.'

  1. A close, critical analysis of Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' with regard to relating a particular ...

    In my opinion, this could also be interpreted as her realisation of how he has read her - that he has worked out all her secrets and she knows this. There are several hints at this earlier in the scene.

  2. What exactly is the purpose of Feste in 'Twelfth Night'?

    He also speaks of how thinking of the future should not be worrying and that people should enjoy the present as he talks about 'present laughing'. This is the first time that an end to the play can be seen and it is displayed by Shakespeare using Feste's true wit, hidden under a foolish disguise.

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