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

How does Shakespeare use the theme of disguise and concealment to dramatic effect in Twelfth Night?

Extracts from this document...


How does Shakespeare use the theme of disguise and concealment to dramatic effect in 'Twelfth Night'? Disguise and concealment are major features in Twelfth Night. Shakespeare uses these themes as the basis for this play. Shakespeare has been able to manipulate and use disguise and concealment in whatever way he likes; to usually portray comedy, misunderstanding, affection and also to give information to the audience without the characters knowing. Shakespeare is very clever in the way that he creates certain contrasting dramatic effects such as comedy, tragedy and uneasiness through disguise and concealment. Concealment is used strongly throughout the play. Viola - one of the main characters is the most obvious example of this. At the very start of the play, Viola asks the Sea Captain to change her appearances. 'Conceal me what I am'. The sea captain then helps her to conceal herself and change her entire appearance to that of a man. Viola also needs the male appearance to survive. She is shipwrecked in a strange land, she is a virgin, and only possessing wit and intelligence. She has no male company for safety, only the captain's friendship. ...read more.


An example is, as Malvolio reads through the pretend letter, he images himself as Count Malvolio. Malvolio, being a puritan; dislikes Sir Toby's way of life and drunkenness. Sir Toby is often drunk and insults Malvolio. Malvolio says aloud when reading the letter: 'You must amend your drunkenness' and 'you waste the treasure of your time with the foolish knight'. Malvolio speaks with pride and smugness as he imagines Sir Toby curtsying before him. This concealment is dramatically effective because of its comedy. Such comedy continues with the encouragement of Malvolio dressing in yellow stockings - as Maria explains 'he will come to her in yellow stockings, and 'tis a colour she abhors, and cross- gartered, a fashion sense she detests'. Here is even more dramatic irony as the audience know that Maria wrote the letter, that Olivia hates the colour yellow and that Malvolio believes that the letter is actually written by Olivia herself. Maria, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Fabian are all concealing the truth about the letter and this creates comedy. In addition, by the four characters hiding in the box tree; it exposes Malvolio's true intentions - that he does not love Olivia for who she is, but for his personal status and gain. ...read more.


He sings a song of unfulfilled love, which puts forth the idea of what could happen in another situation. While the other characters have all been unmasked, Feste's mask can never be discarded due to his role in Olivia's palace as her clown. As Olivia's clown, his job is to be merry and witty on demand for Olivia's personal entertainment. As he resides in Olivia's palace, this fa�ade and persona has to be kept up all the time. As Feste ages, his is scared about losing his job and therefore his true self can never be exposed. Therefore, Feste is the only character in 'Twelfth Night' who does not eventually show something which he is concealing, be that identity or in his case - personality. This makes the last stanza very emotive and meaningful as he unmasks the atmosphere and quotes: 'but that's all one, our play is done.' This helps the audience to return back to reality where everyone is who they say they are - where the sea often kills, mistaken marriages are rarely happy, and where Viola's rarely marry dukes. The theme of disguise and concealment is used to dramatic effect to cause action, plot development, uneasiness, intrigue, misunderstandings, the highlighting of personality flaws, tragedy and comedy. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...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. What is the function of disguise in Twelfth Night ?

    He has become jovial and merry and when in the presence of Olivia, seemingly mad! . Oli. Why, how dost thou man? What is the matter with thee? Mal. Not black in my mind, though yellow in my legs... Oli.

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

    Similarly, Sebastian's love for Olivia is also physical. This is because he does not know her at all, but still agrees to marry her, because he can see that she is beautiful and rich. Orsino's love for Viola is romantic as he falls in love with her character before he knows that she is a woman.

  1. Discuss the theme of appearance and reality in Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night'.

    Throughout the play there has always been a mix-up between Viola/Cesario and her twin Sebastian. Since the beginning of the play Orsino and most of the other characters in the play thought the Cesario was actually a eunuch until the end of the play, however there was one person who

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

    Although the play is, essentially a comedy, this level of deception could be perceived as cruel and unjust. The other character who doesn't receive a happy ending is Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

  1. 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.

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

    Love is another main theme of Twelfth Night. Firstly, throughout the play many of the characters fall in love-sometimes even twice, such as Orsino's initial desire for Olivia, then eventually his realisation of his love for Viola. Malvolio's obvious obsession with Olivia and the love between Sir Toby and Maria illustrate love shown between high and low characters, creating a comic device within the theme.

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

    Once Malvolio is released and Fabian reveals the whole truth, Malvolio furious by the truth of this trick says: "I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you", and storms out. Clearly this is not a happy ending for Malvolio as has been treated terribly throughout most of the play.

  2. Twelfth Night and Viola.

    location in the minds of Elizabethans but also thwart with danger from the perception of piracy - she decides to dress up as a man (Cesario) so that she can fend for herself (as she would be vulnerable as a lone woman, and it was not seen as becoming for

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