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

In what ways do you consider Twelfth Night to be more than simply an entertaining comedy?

Extracts from this document...


Shibdeep Kaur Sekhon 17th December 2002 In what ways do you consider Twelfth Night to be more than simply an entertaining comedy? On one level Twelfth Night can be seen as an elegant, charming and perfectly constructed comedy. It moves from a potentially tragic situation of a shipwreck and the loss of "A brother's dead love" into the joyous realm of romantic comedy where three couples happily celebrate marriages. However, the play can also be interpreted as one with troubling undertones, as there is a philosophical aspect, which considers issues such as revenge, importance of love and personal identity. In considering the play on a superficial level it can be said to have all the major conventions of Shakespearean romantic comedy. The main action is about love but Shakespeare explores several types of love in the play. These include: sibling love, unrequited love, love between friends and secret, concealed love. The theme of Orsino's unrequited love for Olivia is introduced at the beginning of the play. "If music be the food of love, play on." ...read more.


This line is a reminder to the audience that the greatest love, like life will also end. In my opinion this reference to aging could also refer to Shakespeare plays. This is because Twelfth Night was one of the last plays with the genre comedy. Twelfth Night is also a play with troubling undertones. For instance Malvolio is tormented by Feste unnecessarily Feste treats everything Malvolio says as a remark of a madman. "Why, it hath bay windows transparent as barricades, and the clerestories toward the south-north are as lustrous as ebony; and yet compain'st thou of obstruction?" At this point the comedy clearly becomes sinister as the audience begin to sympathise with Malvolio, Characters such as Malvolio, Dir Andrew and Antonio can be seen as outsiders in the play. This is because throughout and at the end of the play, they are excluded from the all round happiness. Where as every other character at the end of the play has a partner of some type, they are left alone. Sir Toby uses Sir Andrew for his money but the last time they speak to each other, Sir Toby insults Sir Andrew. ...read more.


This line is an example of how Shakespeare uses dramatic irony to catch the essence of Twelfth Night, that appearances are deceptive. Viola is a boy, acting a girl, acting a boy and Malvolio is acting the part of a deluded lover. Feste's final lines in his closing song acknowledge that the audience watched the play. "But that is all one. Our play is done, / And we'll strive to please you every day." The song is sung in a sombre tone and is a reminder to the audience that the play shouldn't be taken seriously. This is evident as the words "all is one" are a reference to the Elizabethan equivalents of "I couldn't care less." From my viewpoint, one of the key points Shakespeare tries to make in the play Twelfth Night is how easily people can be fooled by appearance. Act Four is a good example of this. The play also relates very much to the concept of love. It expresses most types of love and shows possible outcomes. Generally however, it is my opinion that as the play was originally aimed at the Elizabethan audience in the Elizabethan time period, there would be a difference in perspectives, opinions and understanding of the modern audience. ...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. How does Shakespeare create and use comedy in the play Twelfth Night?

    and the audience realise that the two of them are similar characters. Olivia and Orsino's likeness does not resolve itself at the end of the play. With Orsino marrying Viola and Olivia marrying Sebastian the audience see this as marrying a male and female version of the same person.

  2. Discuss the different types of love presented in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

    her as he has faith in her yet still not knowing that Cesario is a woman, and made her the one to give messages to Olivia. At this part of the play I have realized that Shakespeare has given Orsino a very distinct way of speaking.

  1. How is love presented in Twelfth Night?

    Olivia emphasises with Orsino's hurt and craving for love, although her love for Cesaio is somewhat repressed. Olivia and Viola also share common ground with the love of a sibling. This form of love is the only type of love in which the person loving has nothing to gain; the love is selfless.

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

    Basically Sir Toby and Fabian are having a laugh at Sir Andrew's expense. Sir Toby convinces Sir Andrew that he has beautiful hair, 'Excellent; it hangs like flax on a distaff; and I hope to see a huswife take thee between her legs and spin it off' and when Sir

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

    However Olivia is no match for Feste with his clever word play and so when she realises she has lost she turns to Malvolio for help, quote: Olivia "What think you of this fool, Malvolio, doth he not mend?"

  2. What makes 'Twelfth Night' a Comedy?

    They make Malvolio believe that he is in love with her through the form of a letter, that Maria writes, signing it 'Olivia'. The letter convinces him of this and wears yellow cross-gartered stockings to impress Olivia; only she hates it.

  1. According to Northrop Frye in The Educated Imagination, literary conventions are typical patterned ways ...

    Because of her action, Hercules loses his immortal identity to live in the mortal world. Another example of convention is his adventure in which he successfully steals the cattle of Geryon and retrieves the apples of the Hesperides. He successfully defeats Cerberus in the last adventure and plans to regain his identity as a god.

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

    similar to the plot involving Malvolio and the fake letter written by Maria. 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' follows the story of Bottom, a low character, who acts superior to his co-workers and is portrayed as very opinionated. Bottom is very similar to Malvolio in that the latter also aggravates his

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