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Twelfth Night and Viola.

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Introduction

Twelfth Night and Viola This essay is about the character of Viola, her situation in Illyria, her importance in 'Twelfth Night', Shakespeare's use of language, the themes of love, loyalty and revenge in 'Twelfth Night', and about the play as a whole. Shakespeare and his language There is a Chinese saying; 'There is nothing new under the sun'. This is certainly true with Shakespeare's play 'Twelfth Night', as it is merely a plagiarism of another play. Perhaps the only part of the play that Shakespeare can take credit for is the Sir Toby, Maria and Malvolio sub-plot, although it has not been proven that he actually wrote this himself, he may also have plagiarised this from a less well known play. There has been speculation that he may not have written any plays, and that he either plagiarised them all or had a 'ghost writer'. However, the themes within the play are as relevant today as they were during his era. A general rule in Shakespeare's plays is that high status characters speak verse, and low-status characters speak prose. However, this rule is often broken in 'Twelfth Night' as Viola frequently switches between verse and prose. Therefore, a more accurate rule for 'Twelfth Night' is that prose is the style for comic scenes and characters, and verse is the style for lovers and 'serious' moments. ...read more.

Middle

She is also described as speaking 'very shrewishly' (cleverly) and enjoys a 'battle of wits' with Feste (the fool). Viola is also the most important character in the play; she affects all of the characters, even though she does not speak to all of them. Without her, Sebastian would have never married Olivia, nor would Sir Andrew have attacked him. Whereas, Olivia would have no doubt stuck to her vow to mourn her brother's death for seven years. She is both the heroine and main character in the play. Viola is one of the most charming of the romantic heroines of Shakespeare's comedies. Of the three major characters she is the most endearing to the audience, as her plight wins the audience's sympathy to a far greater extent than that of the other characters in the play. Themes The main themes of 'Twelfth Night' are love, loyalty and revenge. The theme of love is shown in the love triangle between Orsino, Olivia and Viola and also in the relationship between Maria and Sir Toby. Shakespeare shows all the different views of love and how preposterous they can be (for example, Orsino immediately switching his affections from Olivia to Viola, and Olivia marrying Sebastian without getting to know him, for although he may have looked exactly like 'Cesario' we all have our own personality and that is what makes us different). ...read more.

Conclusion

Conclusion 'Twelfth Night' both entertains and provokes insight; its themes are as relevant today as during Shakespeare's time. The play uses an array of language, images and irony to great effect. The scenarios are enlightening and thought provoking, reflecting Shakespeare's views of relationships, religion and society during his epoch. Although not much has changed with regard to relationships, the dogma associated with religion has eroded which in itself has had a 'knock-on effect' upon society. Thankfully for choristers, the practise of castrating the males to retain a high voice has ceased and I do not believe that anyone in their right mind would wish to become a eunuch. On the whole 'Twelfth Night' is deserves its praise, however it leaves unanswered questions: For Viola and Sebastian to look so alike they must have been no older than sixteen, otherwise Sebastian would have been distinctly more masculine than his sister, with an Adam's apple, broader shoulders, taller and hairier. Yet Viola excused her high voice by stating that she had been castrated, but if Viola and her twin (Sebastian) were so young, then a male of their age would not have necessarily developed a deep voice. So why did Viola say she was castrated? Did Shakespeare merely pen the end scene to reflect that Malvolio was angered by his tormentors? Or, was Shakespeare commenting on the injustices served upon prisoners and the insane during his era? 1 ...read more.

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