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Twelfth Night, Maria, Olivia and Viola. The three strong women.

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William Shakespeare wrote the play 'Twelfth Night' in around 1601. In that period of time, the Elizabethans had a great interest in comedy. This may have been one of the reasons as to why there is quite a bit of confusion in the play as it is mainly about mistaken identity. In this time, we find it quite hard to understand as to why women would have been disguised as men, but in the Elizabethan time, when the play was written, women weren't allowed to act. Instead, young boys had to play the parts of women. In Shakespearean times, women were considered to be inferior to men and in 'Twelfth Night', it is set in a time when women were also thought to be weaker. So to have it the other way round where the women were strong and the men more emotional set out to being very odd. However, in Twelfth Night, it appears to me to be true. At the beginning of the play, Viola is convinced that her brother Sebastian has drowned in the storm. She dresses up as a man, and renames herself Cesario, and decides to seek employment as a musician for the Duke Orsino. We are able to see Viola's strong character at the beginning of the play. Within three days, Viola, dressed up as Cesario, has proved herself as such a loyal friend towards Orsino That he ends up confiding all of his secrets to him. ...read more.


"My lady takes great exception to your ill hours. Ay, but you must confine yourself With the modest limits of order. That quaffing and drinking will undo you" Maria is also cunning enough to be able to play a trick on Malvolio by writing a fake Letter to him, which was supposedly meant to be from Olivia, declaring her love and asking him to wear a pair of yellow cross-gartered stockings. "I will drop in his way some obscure epistle of love. He shall find himself feeling Personated. I can write very like my lady. Your niece; on a forgotten matter." (Act 2, Scene 3, Lines 151-152, 154-155, and 155-156) She may be Olivia's lady in waiting, but she is also able deceive her as well as. Malvolio. When he visits Olivia, she is surprised by his new clothes as well as his constant smiling. Maria is 'strong' enough to play along with the joke pretending that she doesn't know what has resulted in Malvolio's behaviour. She's also warns her mistress about Malvolio. "Where's Malvolio?" "He's coming, madam; but in a very strange manner. He is sure possessed, madam" (Act 3, Scene 4, Lines 7-9) The relationship between Olivia and Viola is very intimate, as Olivia begins to slowly Realize that she is in love with Cesario. She describes it as catching the plague, and is quite astonished that it had happened so quickly. ...read more.


It was expected that people were to marry someone of the same social standing and most of the aristocratic marriages were arranged. In 'Twelfth Night', Maria is able to Increase her social standing by marrying Sir Toby. Her Success however may have because she had accepted the chaos that Sir Toby has produced. Olivia is in the position of power, and is considered to be of a very high status. However, Sebastian isn't far off in the social standing and the same goes for the relationship of Duke Orsino and Viola. This means that Sebastian is able to marry Olivia who is of the same social standing, which was considered appropriate. I have come to a conclusion that in 'Twelfth Night,' the only people who found it difficult to look after themselves were the men. Shakespeare made out Olivia, Viola and Maria to be independent. When Duke Orsino is 'lovesick' he gets Cesario to go and woo her for him, while he is sitting on a chair contemplating his love for Olivia whilst listening to music. This suggests that Orsino is emotionally weak, and that he allows his music to feed his melancholy. "If music be the food of love, play on" (Act1, Scene1, Line 1) Viola proves that she is a strong willed woman by effectively convincing Duke Orsino that she is a man. In my opinion, I think that Shakespeare didn't agree that women were inferior to men. ?? ?? ?? ?? Alima Ali Twelfth Night Coursework GS1 1 ...read more.

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