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

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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.

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