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Samuel Johnson criticised 'Twelfth Night' because it 'lacked credibility and failed to present a true picture of life' so is 'Twelfth Night' just a pantomime?

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Introduction

Twelfth Night Samuel Johnson criticised 'Twelfth Night' because it 'lacked credibility and failed to present a true picture of life' so is 'Twelfth Night' just a pantomime? Today many people think of 'Twelfth Night' as a time to put decorations away and check there are no more pine needles in the carpets. Some people enjoy taking their energetic children to see a pleasant pantomime and let their favourite fairy-tales be performed in front of their eyes. However in Elizabethan times the twelve days following Christmas were a time for a mixture of emotions; disguise, madness and boisterous frivolity. So common sense and sanity were not part of these twelve days after Christmas. As these were days when a topsy-turvy festive world of fools and confusion was created as people swapped roles e.g. masters become servants and servants had control of their masters. It was a time of excitement for everyone. ...read more.

Middle

Act 3 Scene 1 Line 148. It is unrealistically fast. It is obviously Shakespeare didn't want the play to be taken seriously just the name of it gave the fact it was serious away as he named it 'Twelfth Night' or 'What you will.' Even the dialog states that the things aren't real such as when Viola/Cesario says "I am not what I am." Act 3 Scene 1 Line 126. Blatantly proving she is dressed as a man. Just as in mummer's plays and pantomimes the whole play is centred on the suspension of disbelief particularly about how everyone knows the males and females have cross-dressed. The scenario in 'Twelfth Night' where Sir Toby Belch and Maria put a fake love letter down for Malvolio to find is rather far-fetched. For instance why would Olivia have left the letter there, on the path in the first place? Anyone could have picked it up it was just pure coincidence that Malvolio happened to walk by and pick it up this is one of the un-credible storylines in this play. ...read more.

Conclusion

It shows he isn't really a prankster like Toby Belch but a man in search of the true love he yearns. Malvolio seems to be a puritan but shows he isn't true to his faith, when he doesn't wear all black to impress Olivia in his bright yellow stockings. This flaw in his faith shows he has a humane side, and so does the section where he is enraged at losing his dignity and being tricked. "I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you!" Act 5 Scene 1 Line 371. "Twelfth Night" does lack credibility as Samuel Johnson criticised but this is purely and simply because Shakespeare had never meant the play to be real and credible but funny. It doesn't present a true picture of life as it was funny and not serious; it is clearly like a pantomime. It was made with the sole purpose of being entertaining. However it does have the real human feelings and emotions that people feel in real life. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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