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

How does Shakespeare portray the theme of identity in Twelfth Night?

Extracts from this document...


How does Shakespeare portray the theme of identity in Twelfth Night? Twelfth Night is a comedy written by William Shakespeare. It follows certain patterns which are commonly found in Shakespeare?s comedies; it ends in marriage and is based around disguise and false identities. The play starts off with a ship that that was shipwrecked just off the coast of Illyria, and the two main protagonists, Viola and Sebastian are separated and both believe each other to be dead. They both end up in different places and only when, at they end of the play, do they find out that they are both alive. Viola, when she arrives in Illyria just after the shipwreck, believes that the only way to ensure her survival was to get a job at Orsino?s Court, as a man. She took on Sebastian?s identity, only naming herself Cesario. This means that Sebastian?s memory is kept alive and enabled Viola to fill the gap of his ?dead? brother. Duke Orsino presents himself as an insecure man who is upset about the fact he has no wife. ...read more.


Mavolio, who is Olivia?s butler, also has a secret love on her. As, after many loyal years of being Olivia?s butler, he loves her, he presumes that she loves him. This is why he gets fooled by a letter, that he believes to be from Olivia. The letter tells him that Olivia loved him and commanded his yellow stockings. When he appeared in front of Olivia wearing these stockings, he was much to upfront and when she was surprised he quoted some of the letter, thinking that she would understand him. Olivia, who thinks he must be mad, locks him up in the madhouse. He gets taken in by the letter as it was telling him what he wanted to hear for instance that Olivia loves him. It also appeals to his pompous side. The line, ?some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them? really captures Mavolio?s feelings to those lesser than himself. He is also taken in because the letter looked like Olivia?s hand. ...read more.


Antonio asks Viola to back him up, believing she was Sebastian, but because she did not know him, she didn?t so he got taken away, all because of Viola dressing up as a boy. Sebastian arrives in Illyria and comes to Olivia?s house. Olivia asks him to marry her, thinking that this was the same person who she had been going out with before. Sebastian says yes and they get married the next day.. After the wedding Olivia was walking alone when she saw Viola. Olivia goes up to her and talks to her as if she was her husband. She denies this. While they were talking, Sebastian walked over to Olivia and then he saw Viola. They were both amazed to see each other and Olivia was in a state of disbelief. After every one knew their true identities, Duke Orsino fell in love with Viola, now knowing that she was a girl, the marriage still stood with Sebastian and Olivia, and Sir Toby and Maria got together. Twelfth Night is a story combining love, disguise and emotions all in one piece of drama. It is a fine example of a Shakespearian comedy and manages to fit in disguise and mystery with comedy and wit. ...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. Marked by a teacher

    Mistaken Identity in Twelfth Night.

    3 star(s)

    This incident leads to become the main source of many problems (and humour) to come. Some of which include the duel between Sir Andrew and Viola-Cesario and the marriage of Olivia and Sebastian, Viola's twin brother. Overall, this case of mistaken identity leads to many humorous predicaments and in my

  2. The Theme of Love in Twelfth Night

    'Remember who commanded thy yellow stockings' (III.iv.43). Here he is saying how in the letter Olivia commands Malvolio to visit her wearing yellow stockings and to be cross-gartered. We feel a certain pity for Malvolio here as he is making a complete fool out of himself and Olivia does not really love him in any way at all.

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

    when they are finally re-united, we see how deep their love for each other really is. Shakespeare uses these characters to show the audience that love varies depending on the individual. A further kind of love that Shakespeare explores, using the characters of Viola and Orsino, and Sebastian and Olivia, is romantic or physical love.

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

    Throughout the whole play she is loyal to him. She goes to woo Olivia when she's told to and she says what he wants her to say to Olivia, even though she doesn't want them to be together.

  1. how Shakespeare uses disguise to suit his comic purpose

    them "Do ye make an ale-house of my lady's house, that ye squeak out your coziers' catches without any mitigation or remorse of voice?" This again shows that the puritans hated ale-houses. In the time of Shakespeare when people wanted to duel it was known to send someone else to challenge the person you wanted to duel.

  2. The story starts out with a shipwreck and two siblings, Sebastian and Viola, being ...

    However, even after her weak efforts, Olivia does fall in love... with Viola (who she, of course, thinks is Cesario!) So, Viola goes back to Orsino, unsuccessful. But Orsino, having none of it, sent Viola back to Olivia to try once again.

  1. Choose 2 scenes in Twelfth Night and state how you would direct them

    Also, the setting would be in Illyria, in the Elizabethan times (remains unchanged), as I believe that the original settings would certainly bring out the best of the play. Firstly, as the director, I would bring the audience's attention to how Sir Andrew acts like a puppet, controlled by Sir Toby.

  2. A joyful fantasy full of impossibilities. To what extent is this a true description ...

    It would be effective for the audience because they know who Cesario is and it seems more than coincidental that Orsino could guess as good as that. Orsino asks Viola to go to Olivia and tell her of Orsino?s love for her; he believes that Cesario, being youthful and handsome will succeed.

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