• 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

    She is a very confident character and thinks highly of herself. As soon as Cesario comes into her life she immediately breaks the vow of not coming out for seven years as she has fallen in love with him. This is an example of dramatic irony and is funny, as the audience know that Cesario is really a woman.

  1. how Shakespeare uses disguise to suit his comic purpose

    However when he gets there a lot off confusion is made because Antonio who has met both Sebastian and Viola, and them being identical twins, thinks that Viola is Sebastian. The confusion starts when Antonio asks Viola for some of the money that he actually gave to Sebastian, "I must entreat of you some of that money."

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

    Olivia is more than happy to exchange her 'love' for a fake man, Viola, for that of a real one in Sebastian, whom she has known for mere minutes. She fell in love with Viola's personality, but settles for Sebastian because of their similar appearance.

  2. Malvolio's Identity In the play Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare

    This action upsets the servant Maria who is apparently a socially equal, but he denies the fact and also belittles her. Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, Feste and Maria do not have a high opinion of Malvolio.

  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 ...

    This use of characterisation for dramatic effect is very useful, as Shakespeare has expressed Orsino as a ?lovesick puppy?. Shakespeare also wrote his lines using iambic pentameter ?if music be the food of love, play on?. This gets across the idea that Orsino wants to overindulge in music so it

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