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

How far do you agree with the view that Twelfth Night is a comedy where tragedy lurks just under the surface?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

GCSE English Literature Coursework essay Essay question: How far do you agree with the view that Twelfth Night is a comedy where tragedy lurks just under the surface? Although there is little speculation as to whether or not Twelfth Night is a comedy when watching or reading the play, the majority regard the play as a comedy and not a tragedy. Purely because of the many funny scenarios that occur throughout the play, and because of the structure of the play which fits a pattern with other comedies written by Shakespeare. This structure may include: mistaken identities, separation and unification, male friendship, a clever servant, heightened tensions often within a family and multiple plots. Many of Shakespeare's comedies contain most if not all of these elements. In Twelfth Night these elements are clearly apparent which will be explored in our search to answer the question: whether Twelfth Night is a comedy where tragedy lurks just under the surface? Twelfth Night would have undoubtedly been regarded as a comedy in the Elizabethan theatre. Shakespeare obviously intends for it to be perceived as a comedy and not to be taken seriously as the subtitle suggests "What You Will", meaning the audience can perceive the play how they like. Its name "Twelfth Night" has nothing to do with the play but was named after the Twelfth Night holiday and was to be performed as part of Twelfth Night celebrations; further implying the play is to bring happiness and laughter but clearly not sorrow. ...read more.

Middle

Mal means bad or evil, as in malicious; volio means I wish or I desire, from the Latin volo. However this could be coincidence, although the imagery produced by other characters - Sir Toby for example represents the character; as a toby is a jug or a mug which resembles a fat man; belch is a burp. The characteristics of his name suit his character completely; this is the same for other characters but none have an "evil name". However I still firmly believe Malvolio is not an evil character but a grumpy pompous old man - which is how the other characters of the play saw him and so took their revenge, however his personality does not excuse the mistreatment shown towards him. This play seems more probable to be a comedy rather than a tragedy purely because of its likeable characters already mentioned. These being Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Feste - already mentioning the vital role they play in ensuring the play is regarded as a comedy. The antics of these characters define what Shakespearian comedy is all about with characters that the audience love. For their stupidity, the hilarious scenarios they create or engage in. Other than the comedy caused by the mistaken identity of Viola and Sebastian; these characters and the personalities and situations they engage in such as: devious plots, amusing disguises...single handily make "Twelfth Night" the comical masterpiece that it is regarded as today and then (Elizabethan times). ...read more.

Conclusion

Although this is the main misfortune that lurks in this dubious play there is the possibility of a much larger catastrophe with regards to the love triangle that occurs that would completely change the genre of the play from a light hearted comedy to blood ridden tragedy such as was "Hamlet" another prestigious play from Shakespeare. If ever Orsino or Olivia were to find out the Cesario is really a woman (Viola) there could be disastrous consequences. If ever Cesario was to react to her feelings for Orsino he may be angered and put Cesario in prison. However, probably the most likely "what if" scenario: if Orsino was to find out Olivia loved Cesario, Orsino would think Cesario has tricked him and betrayed him; since the whole point of Cesario visiting Olivia is to try persuade her to marry or love Orsino. There are also possible other tragedies: if Malvolio was to exert his revenge by killing Sir Toby, Feste, Fabian, Maria or Sir Andrew the play would definitely become a tragedy. If Sir Andrew realised Sir Toby had been manipulating and using him, he may declare revenge on Sir Toby and possibly on Olivia thinking if he can't have her no-one can. In conclusion I certainly agree with the statement that "Twelfth Night" is a comedy where tragedy lurks just under the surface which has been thoroughly proved throughout this essay by the fact that there are elements of tragedy but just not enough for the play to make people think its' a tragedy. 1 ...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. Examine the Levels of Deception in Twelfth Night Twelfth Night is a play ...

    he will become sick of it, and if music feeds his love then he will become sick of love itself. This appears to be what he wants. Orsino is melodramatic and emotionally self-indulgent. Despite his words he appears to enjoy the part of the unrequited lover, and plays it very well.

  2. How does Shakespeare create and use comedy in the play Twelfth Night?

    She too is self-indulg'nt and cares only for mourning her dead brother than to mingle with the outside world. Olivia seems more concerned about her sorrow and self-pity rather than to go out and find her true love. So false are her feelings for her dead brother are that as

  1. Love in Twelfth Night

    The audience would have found this amusing. This shows that she has romantic love for Orsino that is of free will and real desire. Orsino gives her advice (not knowing she is in love with him) saying not to marry older women because men are fickle and women lose their looks.

  2. What makes 'Twelfth Night' a Comedy?

    what appears, such little respect the whole way through the play, is amazing. Anyone else who would do the same would ultimately lose their job. Feste's Latin quote "cucullus non facit monachun" meaning "the hood does not make the monk," is yet another reminder of a major theme of the play: don't judge on outward appearances.

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

    and calls her a "sweet lady" is humourous, especially from the point of view of an Elizabethan audience. The love triangles would have been particularly shocking, and therefore funny, for the audience during Shakespeare's time period because the concept of Malvolio, the servant, being in love with Olivia, the lady,

  2. A close, critical analysis of Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' with regard to relating a particular ...

    Firstly, here Viola is looking back at Feste - she was confused by the encounter, but understands how intelligent he actually is. It also sets the theme of the passage - the wit of fools and the folly of wise men - an effectively confusing way to end a scene in which 'foolery' has been the main theme.

  1. The most perceptive characters in Twelfth Night are the best at fooling others. How ...

    to our expectations of a woman "till seven years'heat/Shall not behold her face at ample view'. Continually plaguing Malvolio with queries - 'What kind o'man is he?' , 'Of what personage and years is he?', she reveals her boredom with the mourning persona she has created for herself; already she

  2. Twelfth Night character analysis

    He is a high class person, but behaves as a peasant and speaks in prose, not in verse like Orsino. However, although he speaks in prose, he uses words in a very skilled way, like word play, puns, and innuendos and so on and so forth.

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