Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night In Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”, it is obvious that the oscillation of attitude, in the dual role played by the character of Viola/Cesario, gives her a better understanding of both sexes. It allows her to encompass a better discernment of the sentiments of the Duke, Orsino. Near the onset of the play, when Viola is assuming her male identity, she fashions an alternate self, giving her two masks. She takes on the “Cesario” identity in order to achieve more freedom in society. This is evident when, as Cesario, Orsino readily accepts her; while, as Viola, he may not have. Thus, the customary societal outlook on gender is portrayed.

She now has the difficult task of deciding which mask to wear as she alternates between her two identities, both in emotion and in character. Orsino sees Cesario much like himself as a youth. For that reason, he has a tendency to be more willing to share his troubles and sorrows with him/her. To Orsino, Cesario is somewhat of a companion with whom to share and to teach. Thus, Viola grows in her male disguise to gain a better understanding of Orsino’s inner self, not the self that he shows to the public, but rather his undisclosed self, shared only with an intimate cohort.

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In the course, however, she grows to love him, while he seems to be in love with “love itself.” His entire world is overflowing with love, but he foresees a potential turning point; apparent when he says, “If music be the food of love, play on; give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, the appetite may sicken, and so die.” From this quote, the reader perceives Orsino’s realization that he is caught up in “love”, as well as his desire for this hunger of love to somehow diminish. A variety of “fools” enhance the comical appeal of this play. Maria, Olivia’s companion, is one such “fool.” She is enthusiastic in playing pranks on others. She employs Feste, Sir Andrew, and Sir Toby to carry out her tomfoolery, while she remains quiet and unsuspected. Much of the humor in this play revolves around Maria’s pranks.

They are bleak and vindictive, using love and power (status of Olivia) to seize Malvolio, who is “… sick of self Love.” In this particular prank, Maria forges Olivias handwriting in a letter convincing Malvolio that Olivia is in love with him. This scheme works entirely. Malvolio’s greed for power is the actual basis for his being locked up and accused of being a “madman.” Maria and her collaborators recognize his desire for power, and consequently act upon it. Sir Toby Belch, Olivias uncle as well as another “fool” in this play, is always ready and willing to assist in any game of make-believe.

He constantly attempts to convince Sir Andrew Aguecheek that he has a chance of winning the love of Olivia. He, at one point, sets up an altercation between Cesario and Sir Andrew, convincing both parties that the other desires this. He, as well as his friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek, seems to take to drinking a bit too much for their own good. Their evening of joyous drunken singing can actually be blamed for the fake-letter proposal. Malvolio, quite rudely, attempts to end their joyous celebration stating, “My masters, are you mad? Or what are you? Have you no wit, manners, nor honesty, but to gabble like tinkers at this time of night?” This killjoy speech induces its recipients to swear revenge upon him.

Feste, the clown, plays the role of the “comic truth speaker.” Although he makes no real philosophical remarks in the play, he seems to be wisest among the bunch. Viola interprets this by saying, “This fellow’s wise enough to play the fool.” Since this somehow licenses him to be a fool, Feste takes to speaking the truth on all matters. Much humor lies in his truthfulness. An example of this is when he proves Olivia to be a true “fool” by asking her what she was mourning about. The point Feste makes is that Olivia is a “fool” to mourn for a person whose soul is in heaven.

Adding to the wit of this play, Feste dresses up as Sir Topaz, the curate, and pays a visit to the imprisoned Malvolio. There, he uses his wit to exploit Malvolio, calling him a “lunatic” and “satan.” All the while, Malvolio is completely unaware of who he is actually talking to. Comical is the fact that Olivia, unknowingly, falls in love with another woman. There is such a mix-up of identities in this play, that the reader is never bored or desirous of excitement. Olivia is in love with Viola, while Viola declares her love for Orsino time and again.

When Orsino first sends Cesario (Viola) to act as a messenger of his love for Olivia, Viola says, ” Ill do my best to woo your lady; [aside] yet, a barful strife! Whoe’er I woo, myself would be his wife.” Near the end of the play, when all tricks and treacheries are exposed and masks removed, Orsino transfers his copious love to Viola. He first relieves her from duty to him, and then declares that she shall now be her”master’s mistress.” Olivia, analogously, winds up inadvertently marrying Violas twin brother Sebastian. In short, the “fools” control the comedy and humor in this play. They lend a hand in the make believe games, and fool around with the characters who dodge reality, or rather apprehend a fantasy world. The roles of Feste, Maria, and Sir Toby are those of “fools,” and they make the comedy work in many aspects. They create confusion through humor, and it all works out in the end, making William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night a genuinely humorous play.

Twelfth Night

.. capable of understanding the compassion of brotherly love and more compelled to express romance as a means of escape. Olivia is in love with love, and uses Viola as a means of expressing this love, without accepting the attentions of Orsino. Although these love interests as well as the complicated web of relationships, represent romantic love, Nunn attempts to provide for another type of love within the story. Viola and her brother Sebastian share a familial love that is very powerful.

Both Viola and Sebastian are distraught by the thought of the loss of the other, and it is only through their realization that the other might still be living that these two siblings are able to go one with their actions. Furthermore, Viola is capable of expressing brotherly love for Olivia, though Viola recognizes that this type of love is not what Olivia feels for her. Olivia’s love for her brother and father are expressed through her continued mourning, as Viola’s love for Sebastian is expressed by her long-standing concern for his welfare. Their abilities to share in familial love are elements that these two women share, even in the midst of the comedic conflict. This illustration of brotherly love is also substantial in the relationship between Sebastian and Antonio. Antonio, the man who saved Sebastian, recognizes their commonality and shares in a love of brotherhood that is demonstrated by their concern for each other as well as Antonio’s decision to return with Sebastian to Illyria, regardless of the dangerous it poses for himself.

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Their acts of protection and their concern for one another’s welfare represents the magnitude of their brotherly love, correspondingly to the love that Viola expresses for her brother. Nunns adaptation of Feste’s is persuasive because the fool presents wise insights into the actions that occur and the complicated web of love that all of characters become entwined with. His ability to suggest that love is a game, that lovers often love to love, and that love can be almost blind, are important themes to the attraction and comedy of this performance. It is Feste’s recognition of the humor in the conflict that makes the comedy stand out. In other words, Feste’s songs are used to enhance the comedic impacts of these ironic situations, allowing the audience to perceive the effects of the conflict, rather than considering the conflict itself.

Malvolio is the underlying driving force of the love relationships, and is considerably responsible for the outcome of these affairs. Malvolio has a hidden hope through some mystical action, that Olivia will establish her love for him and protest it to him. However, Maria plots to shake-up Malvolio, and allows him to misinterpret information about Olivia that suggests her love for Malvolio. As a result, Malvolio is stirred into believing that there is an existing love between he and Olivia, even though it is a falsified creation of Maria. Malvolios function in this film is to serve as a comedic contrast to the merry-makers, as well as a vital reminder to Feste that life is serious, and not all fun and games. Malvolio expresses the dark side of comedy and love.

He emphasizes demureness, yet, when he thinks he has the chance to move forward with Olivia, he abandons all that he stands for and acts like an absolute fool. This action is the first imperative step that leads to the undoing of several characters, primarily Malvolio. It is essentially Malvolios ultimate narcissism that allows the other characters to easily plot his demise. This destruction of fortune is the fundamental expression of irony within the film. Feste and Malvolio are essential in understanding the two types of love that are expressed within the film, and the need to delineate these types in order to understand their impact on the comedic conflict that occurs.

Feste demonstrates that life creates cruel jokes and that it is the way in which one can understand these situations that determines whether man is a fool or not a fool. At the same time, Malvolio not only shows his love for Olivia, but also his obsessive self-love, and Nunns interpretive message throughout the film is that this type of self-importance cannot be the basis for romantic love. The great lovers in this film are those individuals who are able to express love that is unselfish, and without concern for personal intentions. Viola and Sebastian represent the purest of the love demonstrated, with their concern for each other as well as the unselfish nature of their interactions, including Viola’s representation of the messages of Orsino to Olivia. Even though Viola is in love with Orsino, she represents the purity of love that conquers all in spite of the comedic conflict.

Feste serves an essential role in Twelfth Night, since he is the only character who has witnessed and heard more than any of the other characters in the film. Ben Kingsleys performance of Feste is charismatic and clever. He serves as a device to drive the storyline along, and his songs add the comedic aspect of the love relationships. The breakdown of Malvolio in the foyer of Olivias home brings to an end, for a brief moment, the comedic conflict that was present throughout the film. The comedy turns to sadness, as Olivia states that Malvolio has been most notoriously abused. This sadness turns to anger in Malvolio as he exits and vows, Ill be revenged on the whole pack of you! However, the comedic conflict and love returns quickly, as everyone is paired with someone to love and enjoying their fortunes.

Nunns addition of the wedding scene provides an ending with closure, something Shakespeares play was lacking. Feste closes the film with a song of the various stages of life, putting all of the profound meanings of life into this comedy. Bibliography Twelfth Night. Directed by Trevor Nunn, Screenplay by Trevor Nunn. Produced by Stephen Evans and David Parfitt. Based on the play by William Shakespeare. First Line Films.

Bibliography Twelfth night.

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