Analysis of Shakespeares Twelfth Night Essay

This essay has a total of 804 words and 4 pages.

Analysis of Shakespeares Twelfth Night




Analysis of Twelfth Night
William Shakespeare, arguably the most important writer in all of English literature, is
certainly the most influential playwright of the English Renaissance. Born in 1564 in
Stratford-upon-Avon in rural northern England, he was the son of a middle-class
glovemaker. Competing against such illustrious company as Christopher Marlowe and Ben
Johnson, Shakespeare quickly became one of the most popular playwrights in the city of
London and a favorite of the monarch, the powerful and long-lived Queen Elizabeth I.
Shakespeare wrote thirty-eight plays in the course of his twenty-five-year career; a few
of them apparently in collaboration with other people, but most of them solo. Twelfth
Night was written near the middle of Shakespeare’s career, probably in the year 1601, and
most critics consider it one of his greatest comedies. This play’s plot of illusions,
deceptions, disguises, and the extraordinary things love causes us to do and to see, made
it very entertaining for its audience four hundred years ago, and after all this time this
comedy still gets some good laughs out of most of us.

The story begins when, off the coasts of the country of Illyria, a terrible shipwreck is
caused by a storm. Viola, the play’s protagonist, is swept onto the shores along with the
friendly sea captain that saved her life. Finding herself in a strange land, Viola assumes
that her twin brother, Sebastian, has drowned in the wreck, and tries to figure out what
kind of work can she do. The Captain tells her about a local nobleman, Duke Orsino, who is
courting a beautiful but reluctant noblewoman, Lady Olivia. Since Lady Olivia refuses to
talk to any stranger, Viola cannot look for work with her. But she decides to disguise
herself as a man, taking on the name of “Cesario”, and goes to work for the Duke.

Viola, dressed as Cesario, becomes a favorite of the Duke and makes him his page. But
Viola finds herself falling in love with Orsino; a difficult love to persue as Orsino
believes her to be a man. But this is not all, for Lady Olivia falls in love with
“Cesario” (Viola), when this one is delivering Orsino’s love letters. Now Viola, who is
disguised as Cesario, loves Orsino, Orsino loves Olivia, and Olivia loves Cesario who is
in fact Viola, and everyone is miserable.

Meanwhile, Shakespeare gives us all the other funny characters. These are the characters
that represent the common people, and they are adored by the lower class, which made up a
great part of the audience. Olivia’s rowdy uncle, Sir Toby Belch; his foolish friend, Sir
Andrew Aguecheek, who is trying in his hopeless way to court Olivia; Olivia’s witty
serving-woman, Maria; Fester, the clever clown of the house; and the dour, prudish steward
of Olivia’s household, Malvolio.

Sebastian, who is still alive after all but believes his sister Viola to be dead, arrives
in Illyria, along with his friend and protector Antonio. When Sebastian coincidentally
Continues for 2 more pages >>




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