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To what extent does Twelfth Night fit the genre of a romantic comedy?

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Introduction

To what extent does Twelfth Night fit the genre of a romantic comedy? The name of this play, Twelfth Night, is a holiday period, just after Christmas in which things are said to be 'turned upside down.' Because of the nature of the plot of the play, this title seems fitting. Twelfth Night is what we call a 'romantic comedy,' a comic play drawing on elements of fable, often concerned with love. It is a story of deceit, deception and disguise and filled with dramatic irony, sexual tension and many different kinds of love, both gay and unrequited. It is also set in this fantasy location called Illyria, where the main character, Viola, is shipwrecked on. The main story is of a girl, Viola, who, having been shipwrecked from her presumed dead brother, decides to dress as a boy so she can get a job in a noble household. Already this confusion, trickery and a fantasy type location follow the path of a romantic comedy. This is made even more apparent when Viola, pretending to be the boy Cesario, falls in love with her master, the Duke Orsino. Meanwhile Orsino keeps up his obsessions for Olivia, the countess of a neighbouring court, getting the disguised Viola to deliver her his love messages, unaware of her true identity. ...read more.

Middle

Orsino appears to love the chase, and the idea of being in love rather than ever actually loving somebody else, 'If music be the food of love, play on; give me excess of it.' This tells us that like other characters in this play, the love he experiences, or wants to experience is not real love. During the play Orsino also hints about his strange attraction to the feminine Cesario, who is actually Viola in disguise. This slightly gay affection causes anxiety in Orsino's character, atleast in the subtext, until the truth comes out at the end of the play. Viola's love for Orsino is the truest love in the play, unfortunately her plan to disguise herself as a boy causes her a lot of trouble as she becomes unable to tell Orsino her true feelings for him, or tell Olivia why she can't return the love Olivia wants. Viola's love for Orsino is an unselfish, aching love. Viola continually visits Olivia's court in Orsino's attempt to gain Olivia's love, and each time she tries her hardest to win Olivia over; 'My lord and master loves you. O such love Could be but recompensed, through you were crowned The nonpareil of beauty.' ...read more.

Conclusion

'Marry, I saw your niece do more favours to the count's servingman than ever she bestowed upon me. I saw't i'th' orchard.' Sir Andrew then baits Viola-Cesario into a duel, and he himself is then urged on by Sir Toby. Having told both Viola and Sir Andrew of the other's supreme swordsmanship and bravery, the two prepare to fight, Sir Andrew for the affection of his mistress, but Viola for no reason at all. At the last minute Antonio intervenes and stops the duel, mistaking Viola for Sebastian. 'One sir that for his love dares yet do more, than you have heard him brag to you he will.' In conclusion, we can see from many examples, that love twists the character's ideals and morals around, turning them into little more than fools, desperate to be with the ones they love. Throughout the play, the most common type of love shown, is the sexual lust the characters show for another, because most of the character's do not know their counterparts enough to love them on anything else other than appearance. In answer to the title of this essay, we can infer that Twelfth Night fits Shakespeare's genre of romantic comedy, almost perfectly. 4/12/02 English Coursework Essay ...read more.

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