The Impervious Perception of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night free essay sample
Twelfth Night was supposedly originally written for the entertainment of Queen Elizabeth I. William Shakespeare’s comedy associates with the Feast of Epiphany (January 6th) and was means for entertainment in the seventeenth century. It contains some aspects that can be thought of as a successful comedy when compared to the standards of today’s society. The play incorporates some of the very same devices that are used in modern comedies today, such as topsy-turvy romance, foolery, and mistaken identities.
Twelfth Night also involves many cultural aspects that would be tough for an audience today to relate with. Some of these ideas are social class, dialect, and lack of modern technology that affect our lives today. Shakespeare appeared ahead of his time since this comic play can relate to an audience of modern times, but it poses some obstructions for the modern audience to appreciate it to the same degree that his original audiences did.
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The Impervious Perception of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night
In the play Twelfth Night, Shakespeare explores and illustrates the emotion of love with precise detail. Throughout the play Shakespeare examines two different types of love: true love and self-love.
Twelfth Night consists of many love triangles, however many of the characters that are tangled up in the web of love are blind to see that their emotions and feelings toward other characters are untrue. Lies and deception overwhelm the play causing characters to be swindled by themselves and/or the others around them. “However, Twelfth Night is not just a play of bawdy jokes and pratfalls: like all Shakespeare’s comedies, it has its own brand of enchantment. The famous opening lines in which Orsino declares his love for Olivia, surely some of the loveliest in Shakespeare’s lexicon, set the tone” (Croggon).
William Shakespeare didn’t only use witty jokes to fill up the script but rather incorporated a romance triangle between three main characters. Topsy-turvy romance is common in successful plays and movies today, so this scheme would cause good entertainment for audiences today because of the multiple twists and spontaneity of the feelings of the characters, which current audiences enjoy. There are certain instances in the play where the emotion of love is true, and the two people involved feel very strongly toward one another. One case of true love is on a less intimate and romantic scale, and more family oriented.
Viola and Sebastian’s love for one another is a bond felt by all siblings. Through their times of sorrow and mourning for each of their apparent deaths they still loved each other. They believed deep down that maybe someway or by some miracle that each of them was still alive and well. Even though an occurrence like this is very rare, many modern audiences sympathize with the situation. Many people, even in today’s society, love themselves more then anything else. Twelfth Night addresses the issue of self-love and how it affects peoples lives.
Malvolio is the easiest to identify with the problem of self-love. He sees himself as a handsome and noble man. Malvolio believes many women would love to be with him. He likes to see things one way only, and he deceives himself just to suit his outlook on the situation. For example, in the play he twists Olivia’s words around to make it sound like she admires his yellow cross-gartered stockings, when she really despises them. Another example of self-love involves both Sir Toby and Olivia. They each show signs of self-love but it is not to the same extent as Malvolio.
Sir Toby only cares about himself and no one else, not even his friends. He ignores Maria’s warnings about drinking into the night, and he continues to push Sir Andrew to court Olivia. Although he believes Sir Andrew doesn’t have a chance. Olivia cares about the people around her, but she also believes that no man is worthy of her beauty. She thinks she is “all that,” and that no one can match her. Self-love is evident in multiple plays in the modern world today; everyone loves something about themselves whether or not they are vocal about it.
In Twelfth Night, the fools are the ones that control the comedy and humor in the play. They assist in the make believe game and fool around with characters who “evade reality or rather realize a dream”. In Twelfth Night, Feste, Maria and Sir Toby are the fools that make the comedy work in many senses. They create the confusion through humor and it all works out in the end to make William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night a comical play of his time and today. In Twelfth Night, the clown and the fools are the ones who combine humor and wit to make the comedy work, just like in many comical plays in today’s society.
Modern audiences would laugh from the foolery caused by these characters while the comic truth is unwinding to build up this comedy. Another aspect of the play that can easily relate to modern audiences is, William Shakespeare’s use of mistaken identities and true-life experiences especially mourning for the loss of family and love obsessions, are among the main focuses of the play. Many people in the audience of today would most likely be able to relate to Olivia’s intense mourning of her brother, since people’s feelings and actions at the time of loss don’t change just the periods of times that they occur do.
Love is commonly used in many forms of works of entertainment because it is an unsolved mystery that everyone usual enjoys watching or reading. The infatuation that the Duke has for Olivia is comical throughout the play and forces the Duke to say outlandish comments. “It is merely to remember that Twelfth Night is a romance as much as it is a farce, and that part of its power is in how, however lightly, it touches the heart. The despair of exile and alienation, the erotic obsessions of romantic love, the grief of loss, are all made minor themes, occasions only for the joke of the play.
And consequently, the play’s meanings are muddied: the romantic scenes have an air of confusion, unlike the comedy, in which every action is absolutely clear” (Croggon). In today’s society most people have experienced love and taken action that may be perceived as unusual to sustain the feeling, which is why many young lovers could relate themselves to the various scenes of the Duke’s rants of passion. However, there are portions of the play that lack excitement caused by action, which might persuade the modern audiences to perceive the play as boring.
Entertainment in our times now involves plenty of action, which creates a certain thrill for us; this is where Twelfth Night is most lacking for good reviews among viewers in America today. The play is overwhelming with its witty dialogue, which causes for a lack of exhilaration between the characters, since there are no real battles or famous deaths among them. The only proclaimed ‘duel’, between Sir Toby and Malvolio, is not even very well described and doesn’t play a major role in the interactions between the characters.
The ‘duel’ over a drunken fool and a self-loving noble almost goes unnoticed except for the complaining and lies of Sir Toby. Audiences in today’s world seek action, like in other plays of Shakespeare’s’ where feuds or glorious deaths take part. Also select few might find the roles of the woman to be offensive since they are first played by males and seen as oppressed for their gender. Viola disguises herself as a boy in order to protect herself and to obtain employment by the Duke. In the beginning of he play her reasoning for disguise is carefully thought out because males are less questioned and perhaps respected more. “Shakespeare’s comedies, she argues, are used either to reaffirm the subordination of women to men in marriage, or to call all social and political institutions into question by focusing obsessively on male greed, corruption, and narcissism. In both cases, productions of the ‘woman-centered comedies’ succeed in displacing women’s perspectives and experiences from center stage, substituting, instead, the culturally-valorized story of men’s desires, failures, and ideals” (Moroney).
Woman in Shakespeare’s plays seem to be somewhat downgraded which could vex certain members of the audience in today’s society. Many advances in the status of woman have occurred since the time that the play was written in, this could present as a major issue causing controversy. In the Twelfth Night there isn’t too much oppression of woman taking place, but still exsists so it is possible only extreme woman activist might take the greatest offense. Twelfth Night is a play of many serious matters such as love, death, marriage, and true identity.
These four aspects are still truly deemed as important and relevant too much of the audiences today, as they were to the audiences of William Shakespeare’s time. Even though many of these aspects are meant to be serious, Shakespeare encompasses them together with a common impression of comedy that is rendered in his play to cause the audience to laugh. This laughter can be shared amongst any audience of either the seventeenth century and the twenty first century hence why his plays are still performed today and appreciated by many.