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

First impressions of Twelfth Night can be deceiving as on a simplistic level it can be portrayed as a typical Shakespearean comedy

Extracts from this document...


Jonathan Richards Twelfth Night First impressions of Twelfth Night can be deceiving as on a simplistic level it can be portrayed as a typical Shakespearean comedy. However, Twelfth Night is a mixture of both romantic comedy and tragedy. The romantic comedy elements can be found throughout the play as its structure is based on a typical Elizabethan style, it has escapism with magical settings and happy endings, as is 'Midsummer's Night Dream'. Also Twelfth night has unusual names such as Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek, this type of humour is also used in 'Midsummer's Night Dream' in the form of Bottom. This comedy's main theme being one of a love and all the trials and tribulations which can be involved with these strong emotional feelings, it portrays the difficulties which can arise because of the situations people put themselves into willingly or unwillingly as a typical Shakespearean comedy always does. It uses fictional settings, shipwrecks, and weddings with the main characters having to cope with unusual situations. It uses escapism with magical settings and happy endings. There is much to find in the play to makes us smile with lots of songs and happy events as can be found in Act 2 scene3 with Feste the court jester singing. He sings throughout the play about different things Love is one of the themes "What is love? ...read more.


There is also quick language used between Malvolio and Olivia in the same scene, "What manner of a man?" "Of very ill manner." After looking further into the play it seems that it cannot be classed comfortably as a comedy. Though the play has the necessary elements to be classed as a typical Shakespearian comedy it has a 'darker' side. For example some of the cruelty used against Malvolio. In particular the letter prank in which Maria, Sir Toby and Sir Andrew come up with a very cruel but humorous prank to play on Malvolio in the form of a love letter. It is not the effects of the prank that are cruel but the motives for playing the prank in the first place. The motive for Maria to play the trick on Malvolio is because she dislikes his vanity. Malvolio had not really done anything to deserve what he got, apart from being vane. Even though this is quite cruel it is quite humorous and is commonly known as Black comedy. The prank is not allowed to end there, it escalates into a potentially quite cruel situation. A perfect example of this would be Act 4 Scene 2 where Feste disguises himself as Sir Topas the curate. Feste torments Malvolio and treats him as if he were mad. Malvolio protests that he is not mad, but Feste (as Sir Topas) ...read more.


Also Feste who is meant to be a clown but his word play is more philosophical than amusing. Orsino himself threatens to take Viola/Cesario's life for taking the love of his life. On first reading this may be seen as a funny misunderstanding but really it is an angry and bitter mess. The ending of the play could be seen as a happy ending on the surface but it is not really happy at all. Even though there are marriages for certain individuals there are other people left either unhappy or vowing revenge. For example Orsino said he would kill Viola for taking the love of his life. Malvolio is the one laughed at by the other characters because his love for Olivia is revealed, he does not join in the humour of the celebrations. He has no hope of finding respect or happiness in the same household and remains an angry outsider vowing revenge. We do not find out what happens to Antonio, whether he is released and reunited with his friend. This can surely not be deemed as a very happy ending to the play with out all the loose ends tied up. In conclusion I would say that this play is definitely not a tragedy but it cannot be classed comfortably as a comedy because of the elements of cruelty and sadness. The last song from Feste is too sombre for us to leave the theatre or finish the book laughing; in fact it would be quite the opposite. The play is maybe more entertaining for its mixture of light and dark, happy and sad. ...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. Samuel Johnson criticised 'Twelfth Night' because it 'lacked credibility and failed to present a ...

    From Act 2 Scene 5 Line 47. Sir Andrew like Malvolio shows that hope and greed can blind one from reality, since they are both hopeful of becoming Olivia's husband. Malvolio, simply for the money and Sir Andrew because of his love for Olivia.

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

    Another good example of the things done by the people in the play, in the name of love, is the duel that follows the confrontation between Sir Andrew and Viola-Cesario, when he observes the attraction between his mistress Olivia, and Viola-Cesario.

  1. What makes 'Twelfth Night' a Comedy?

    has gone to heaven then there is no need for him to be mourned. "The fool more, Madonna, to mourn for your brother's soul being in heaven." Olivia reacts to this with laughter. At the beginning of Act Five, Scene Five, Feste treats both Fabian and Orsino as the 'Stooge' or 'straight man.'

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

    Feste not only angers people with his commentary and witty comments, but he also brings the madness to the play. He does this with his visit to a trapped Malvolio as disguised as Sir Topas. During which he confuses Malvolio into thinking he is mad himself, by calling him a 'lunatic' and 'Satan', as I have already described.

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

    This makes everyone confused because now strange things are happening and people are getting accussed of things that they haven't done. Also Feste shows deception because because he makes everyone think he is Sir Topas (except the conspirators). In act five, Olivia and Sebastian get married.

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

    This is called dramatic irony, as Olivia is exposing her love to someone who does not even know her. The last Act and scene, Act 5, scene 1, is the solution scene. All the problems and confusions are sorted out.

  1. Examine the ways in which Shakespeare creates comedy for the audience in Act 3 ...

    Again, this would create comedy. One comic device Shakespeare cleverly uses during Twelfth Night is love triangles. One good example of a love triangle is that, initially, Orsino loves Olivia, who in turn loves Cesario, who loves Orsino. The climax of this intriguing situation arises in Act 3 Scene 4,

  2. How far do you agree with the view that Twelfth Night is a comedy ...

    However many of them justify the reason why "Twelfth Night" is a hilarious comedy. Sir Toby Belch, uncle to Olivia, is a fairly important character of the play in ensuring it remains as comical as possible and a distraction for people of Elizabethan times from their daily routine (the real world).

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