twelfth night analysus
Perspectives on Shakespeare-MCALT3020 Assignment 1- Critical Analysis of Twelfth Night, Act 1 Scene V
Twelfth Night (1601) exposes Shakespeare’s satirical attitude toward the societal norms of the Elizabethan era. The Carnivalesque title brings about notions of both the inversion of stereotypical roles as well as the excess of the Christmas period. Feste upholds the carnival spirit while Malvolio is diametrically opposed, historically at this point there was a shift from the feudal household which is more like Olivia’s with the likes of Sir Andrew and Sir Toby to the commercialised private world, much more like count Orsino’s. “Throughout the play a contrast is maintained between the taut, restless, elegant court where people speak a nervous verse and the free-wheeling household of Olivia, where accept for the intense moments in Olivia’s amorous interviews with Cesario, people live in easy going prose”  However the festive spirit is destructed by the excess of Malvolio’s punishment giving an anti-carnivalesque ending, re-establishing the importance of the social hierarchy.
Appearance and reality proves problematic for an ontological reading, a natural perspective that is and is not “nothing that is is so”  Feste questions the notion of reality and appearance as he is the only character to see through the others masks, while Viola is the only character true to herself, and aware of her own disguise even telling Olivia that her appearance is not reality “I am not that I play” 112, 176, which brings forth a metatheatrical element. “The honourable lady of the house, which is she?” enquires Viola as Cesario, not wanting to “cast away her speech”  that “was excellently well penned” on someone of no significance. In doing so she draws attention to the fallacy of her conventional compliments in addition offending Olivia by not recognising her, or pretending not to recognise her, who in turn refuses to confirm that she is the lady, furthermore proceeding to complain about Cesario, “being saucy at my gate.”  “What is yours to bestow is not yours to reserve” states Viola as the lady did indeed usurp herself, and now revealed, should not be allowed to keep the gift of herself to herself, she should distribute her affections to Orsino and requite his love. Olivia’s refusal to listen to the praise Viola recites discloses her disinterest and insistence on hurrying up the youth. “Come to what is important in’t. I forgive you the praise.”
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Presently Viola disguised as Cesario and Olivia disguised by her veil both have preconceptions about the others behaviour however Viola’s persistence in identifying the Lady through disguise, warrants Olivia’s interest as Viola asks “Good madam, let me see your face.”  Olivia reveals herself literally, breaking an oath she claimed she never would, “we will draw the curtain and show you the picture”  Shakespeare often uses wit to imply a potential relationship, as Olivia sharply replies “Tis in grain sir, ‘twill endure wind and weather” this leads to the mockery of reducing Olivia’s beauty to an itemised list “item, two lips indifferent red…one chin”  the witty exchange develops Olivia’s feelings of indifference, to interest and finally to love. Moreover the ‘willow cabin’ speech, willow being symbolic for forsaken love gives Olivia the wrong impression as Viola speaks of how she would love Olivia if she were the Duke, of course revealing her true feelings for Orisno, also seen in Act two Scene four ‘never told her love, but let concealment, like a worm i’the bud, feed on her damask’. 
Metatheatre reliant on the performative element often offers an onstage of the theatrical situation, and such techniques as the use of parody. When Olivia asks Viola “are you a comedian?”  an actor? Shakespeare relies on audience complicity for Viola indeed is both an actor in a comedy as well as a character acting another. Also contributing to the deception or imaginary deception of the audience is that in Elizabethan times, women were not allowed to be on the stage so the female characters would be played by men pretending to be women. In a play like Twelfth Night where disguise is integral to the plot, this could become very confusing. For example, Viola would be played by a man pretending to be a woman pretending to be a man.
Deception and Delusion are heavily played upon throughout however it is predominantly self deception, as Orsino proclaims“thy mind is a very opal” a material which changes when light strikes it, he also admits his own fickle disposition “if music be the fruit of love play on…enough” in two lines his mood dramatically alters, paralleling his love “more in love with love than with his mistress”  Viola, un-deluded of her true self is incapable of remaining impartial in this scene and becomes insolent in her approach, coming out of ‘character’, and through blind jealousy of the Duke’s passion for Olivia, remarks to Olivia when asking for approval of her beauty, “Excellently done, if God did all” implying she may only be beautiful with make-up, furthermore accuses her of being proud, “I see what you are, you are too proud”. For a servant this is outrageous, after all she is accusing a Lady of pride-one of the seven deadly sins. Olivia however does not reproach Cesario, simply stating, “you are now out of your text.” She too begins to come out of ‘character’ and reveal her true self, at first she is very cynical and dismissive of the messengers speech, remarking quite coldly when Viola refers to the Duke’s love lying in his bosom, “O. I have read it: it is heresy.”  Further on in the conversation however she reveals a more honest insight into her feelings for the Duke. She states simply that no matter how suitable he is for her, she wants to stick to the romantic notions of love and says simply, “I cannot love him” 
Dramatic irony is continually featured specifically in this scene, the audience are capable of knowing the immediate circumstances of the story more than the actual characters within it; we are able to see a discrepancy between character’s perceptions and the reality they face. Viola and Olivia’s beliefs become ironic since they are different from the reality of their immediate situation, and their intentions are likewise different from their actions. This not only creates tension between the characters, but between the audience and the characters who wait in suspense for the truth to be revealed.
Olivia combats her issues of class difference, while Viola attempts to control her jealously of Orsino’s love demoting Olivia’s womanhood. After introductions they become very personal, and Olivia asks, “what are you what would you?” in a very impersonal manner, to which Viola ironically replies, “What I am, and what I would, are as secret as maidenhood.” This has an overt meaning as well as an ostensible one. “Viola intends to examine her rival more closely but is drawn into an increasingly intimate exchange that grows out of the secret of their shared maidenhood” her maidenhood is oblivious to Olivia, who only sees the surface truth. Viola moreover is left in the dark about Olivia’s character, “I see what you are”, thinking she is seeing the real Olivia, however blinded by her jealousy, fails to notice the humility and honesty of Olivia’s tone. Refusing to believe that Olivia could be as good of a suit as herself for the Duke, is only visible to the audience.
The initial formalities carried out by servant and Lady is lost, as they continue their conversation in a more familiar manner. Olivia is entangled in Cesario’s romantic vision of how he would love her if he were the Duke and ironically Viola is wishing that she was also the object of such passion from the Duke. Olivia is so used to the passive images that the Duke leaves her to imagine in his speeches, that she is overwhelmed when this attractive youth is romantically preaching about the “willow cabin”  and love that is beyond “the elements of air and earth”116,264, she is captivated by the romantic image Cesario creates. Viola’s objective was not to attract Olivia for herself though this is clear through Olivia saying very enthusiastically, “You might do much” , a turning point in the scene. The audience is aware that this is in fact what she has succeeded in achieving, yet Viola does not yet see.
“What is your parentage?”  asks Olivia, keen to know Cesario’s social status and background, as we also know in addition to not loving Orsino she does not wish to marry above her station. On finding Cesario is in fact a gentleman she is keen to pursue him inviting him back “unless perchance you come to me again/to tell me how he takes it”. On departure Viola turns down the money that Olivia tries to give her, reinstating her original noble status claiming “my master, not myself, lacks recompense.” Olivia’s repetition of “above my fortunes” discloses her contemplation of Cesario as a potential husband furthermore “even so quickly may one catch the plague”  she is surprised herself and the speed of her infatuation and paralleling love to the plague implies the overt threat of the plague of love throughout the play, moreover echoing Act 1 scene 1 showing the grave reality of her situation. Olivia herself is aware of the irony of her situation perusing Cesario however this is where her age comes into consideration. Olivia could either be a mature lady of gracious manor, or a young girl forgetting to be discreet for her eagerness 
Expressing interest in Cesario for first time, these broken lines are what Viola later refers to as Olivia speaking in starts distractedly  she now too is very aware of the grave yet comical situation. Olivia declares that she had found Viola attractive, “Methinks I feel the youths perfections.”  Acting on this, and going against her seven years of not seeing another man, she sends for Malvolio to take a ring to Viola so that he may return with it.
Some disguises are deceptive and some deceptions are disguised, Feste at the beginning of the scene calls Olivia is a ‘fool’ redirecting our attention to her rash vow and other speeches of his which obscurely foreshadow its abandonment and her marriage. “As there is no true cuckold but calamity…jove cram with brains”  Love is an irresistible passion, whether it be Orsino’s for Olivia or Viola’s for Orisno, or Olivia’s for the disguised Viola all are fundamental to the play. Shakespeare challenges gender roles and the conventions of romance in his use of disguise however Viola does not conform. The sea captain never returns with her “maiden weeds” . In refusing to readmit a feminine Viola at the conclusion, the play seems hesitant to renounce the social and sexual inversions, moreover there is no real resolution for Malvolio who threatens revenge “on the whole pack of you!”