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Twelfth Night Essay

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Twelfth Night refers to the twelve days after Christmas. These twelve days were a time of fun. A sort of surreal world was created during these twelve days, disguise and trickery was in rife during this period. It was done to show the underdogs where true power lay. The twelfth night (6th January) marked the end of the Christmas period as the decorations were taken down. This day was filled with sadness as it was back to your normal routine from tomorrow. The comical events that take place during this period are reflected in the events of the play. Shakespeare's Illyria is a land of make-believe and Illusions. It is a land where happiness is possible and anything can happen but in the end the result would be joyous. Illyria is a world of disguise and mistaken identity. Common sense is mocked but even though Illyria seems to be an untrustful place it is secure. As a brother and sister reunite and lover marry. Shakespeare's Theatre was very different from the theatre of today. ...read more.


The plot is based around a love triangle. As Viola enters Duke Orsino's court disguised as a man, she falls in love with the Duke but she can't declare her love for the Duke as she is disguised as a man. Duke Orsino is in love with the mourning Lady Olivia. He orders Cesario a.k.a Viola to deliver his love letters to the lady but instead Lady Olivia falls in love with Cesario as she doesn't know about her disguise "Poor Lady, she were better love a dream. Disguise, I see thou art a wickedness...." Viola realises that Olivia loves him/her, appearance has triumphed over reality. To complicate things further Sebastian, Viola's twin brother, arrives in Illyria. First of all Feste delivers a ring to Sebastian from Olivia thinking that it is Cesario. Sebastian gives money and tells him to go away or get a beating. Then Sir Andrew who had a feud with Cesario turns up and punches Sebastian who thinks everyone's mad. "Are all the people mad?" ...read more.


This is said in Act 1 Scene 5 when Viola realises that Olivia is in love with her. Her disguise has had a negative effect by making a woman fall in love with a woman. Appearance has triumphed over reality, this backs up the theme of the play which is that nothing is as it seems. Shakespeare also uses Antithesis in the play. "I am not what I am." This is used to show that not all is as it seems. This shows the conflict between outward appearance and inward reality. Also antithesis is used to remind the audience that even though there are conflicts it's a comedy. ".... betrothed both to a maid and man." Nothing is as it seems in Twelfth Night. Disguise is rife. When Viola turns up disguised into Orsino's court he remarks that Ceasrio looks like a woman. In fact she is a woman which is dramatic irony also when Olivia proposes to Sebastian thinking that it is Cesario. This backs up the fact that Illyria is not as it seems. ?? ?? ?? ?? Nothing is as at it seems in 'Twelfth Night '. Discuss the dramatic irony which arises from disguise and mistaken identity in this play. Zain Tahir ...read more.

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Related GCSE Twelfth Night essays

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

    We know that from the beginning of the play right until near the end Malvolio is always next to Olivia and always tries to back up what she says such as the incident with Feste, he does this because as we find out later on he is actually in love with Olivia.

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

    and Sebastian has no idea what she's talking about. Olivia is so jealous of Cesario because he might find someone else to love, which is why Olivia proposes to him while she has the chance. Sebastian accepts to marry her with no regrets still not knowing why Olivia is all over her and is full of amazement.

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

    This apparent switch of status comes about through his drunken antic with Maria, Fabian, Feste and Sir Andrew. The fact that he acts in an almost immature way presents to the audience a contrast to how high characters are supposed to act, heightening the humour.

  2. Is Twelfth Night Still Funny To A Modern Day Audience?

    It describes the more complex comedy scenes with brash misunderstanding, nonchalantly describing the "woman dressed as a man" as "instantly recognisable" to the entire audience but never anyone on stage". It is possibly a badly-interpreted irony that prevents the author of source one from realising that the obviousness of Viola's

  1. How does Shakespeare use the theme of disguise and concealment to dramatic effect in ...

    What will happen if she is caught? When will she be caught? How will she be found out?'. As soon as Viola changes to Cesario; the audience is gripped and wants to know what will happen later on. We are also in the knowledge by now that Viola has a twin brother.

  2. how Shakespeare uses disguise to suit his comic purpose

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  1. Choose 2 scenes in Twelfth Night and state how you would direct them

    A love song!". Then, Sir Andrew follows suit, exaggerating his jump from his seat, and says, "Ay, ay; I care not for good life". Here, the audience sees once again the blind following of Sir Andrew. Following this, Feste takes up his instrument and starts singing the song.

  2. A joyful fantasy full of impossibilities. To what extent is this a true description ...

    Although Sir Andrew wanted it to mean are you in the company of fools, Maria takes it literally and answers ?I have not you by th? hand?, which shows her poor opinion of them both. Sir Andrew being a fool takes this the wrong way and gives her his hand to shake.

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