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Mistaken Identity in Twelfth Night.

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Anna Mason 9S Mistaken Identity in Twelfth Night Throughout "Twelfth Night" there is much foolery, fantasy and mistaken identity. These incidents have made the play more fun, interesting and surprising and have certainly given the play a few twists. Olivia and Viola-Cesario (I, v) The first and most important case of mistaken identity in my opinion, began in Act 1, scene 5, in Olivia's household. Viola-Cesario was sent by Orsino to try and "woo" Olivia for him but Viola, in love with Orsino herself, knew that she would not want to do this: "I'll do my best to woo your lady. [Aside] Yet a barful strife! Whoe'er I woo, myself would be his wife." (I, iv, l. 39-41). The two got on well although there was much verbal fencing, but by the time Viola-Cesario had left, Olivia feared she had fallen in love with "him". We learn this from Olivia's words after Viola-Cesario's departure: "Even so quickly may one catch the plague? ...read more.


72-3). Malvolio read on to discover that Olivia "liked" yellow stockings (a colour she hated) with cross-gartering. He was also told to treat his fellow workers as inferiors to him and to smile jokily all day, a mood that Olivia was not in with the death of her brother. Malvolio then doing as "Olivia" had said, came before her looking ridiculous and hinting that he knew of the letter: "this cross-gartering... If it please the eye of one, it's with me... I think we do know the sweet Roman hand." (III, iv, l. 20-6). Malvolio continued to hint and recite quotes from her letter for some time, making a complete fool out of himself. When Sir Toby entered, Malvolio was rude to him as the letter instructed, but he was accused of being possessed and was told he was mad: "La you, and you speak ill of the devil, how he takes it at the heart! Pray God he be not bewitched!" (III, iv, l. ...read more.


Viola said that she had no idea who he was and Antonio, still believing her to be Sebastian, rightfully got very angry and upset: "Will you deny me now? Is't possible that my deserts to you Can lack persuasion? Do not tempt my misery." (III, iv, l. 298-300). And later: "Thou hast, Sebastian, done good feature shame. In nature there's no blemish but the mind: None can be called deformed but the unkind." (III, iv, l. 317-9). This case of mistaken identity caused hurt feelings and confusion to those involved. Unlike the other cases, it is not humorous and few events branch from it. The incident is an interesting and more serious part of the play, which involves another mistake over Viola's identity. As a final summary, I think mistaken identity is a very important aspect of Twelfth Night: it provides humour, complications and interesting twists to the play. As a reader or viewer of Twelfth Night it is very enjoyable to know the thoughts of each character while they go around not knowing the truth and making mistakes. In some ways Twelfth Night is almost like a pantomime: the mistaken identity supplies a fantastical, foolish and humorous mood to the play. ...read more.

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The essay gives an overview of some of the cases of mistaken identity and the effect of the humour it resulted in. The quotes selected were appropriate. As a literature essay, an examiner would expect to see some reference to the literary context which the text comes from and how the audience's response to the themes may change over time.

Marked by teacher Melissa Thompson 27/03/2013

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