The Theme Of Trickery In Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night'

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Shakespeare's theatrical comedy ‘Twelfth night’ follows a plot full of tricks and lies leading it to effectively represent the theme of trickery in many ways. This is an important theme in this play as most of the action revolves around trickery and its outcomes. There are three main characters that represent the theme of trickery and its many forms; Malvolio - who shows how trickery can lead to madness, Maria - who exemplifies the art of lies and deception, and Viola - who demonstrates how some are unaware of the amount of confusion their tricks can cause. Through these three characters, we can see how trickery is a dominant theme in ‘Twelfth Night” and how it remains relevant, even today.

When discussing the theme of trickery, Malvolio is
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Viola requests of the captain who rescued her “I prithee, conceal me what I am.” showing that she does intend to trick others, but did not plan for all the consequences. Confusion breaks out when people start mistaking her for her brother. Quotes that represent these moments include, “Why do you speak to me? I never hurt you.” and “Hast thou forgot thyself? Is it so long?”. The former, spoken by Viola, relates to a point where her brother punched someone leading them to accuse her of this act. It shows that she is confusing people in many ways she never intended to. The later was said by Olivia, referring to the marriage viola’s brother was a part of. This example represents a worst case scenario that is the result of a trick. In both of these cases, viola never intended to offend or confuse anyone. Her reason for the disguise was merely to gain easier access to a job. She ended up leading people on, being held responsible for her brother's actions and wreacking havoc. This aspect of trickery, again, is universal and some may say timeless. Young audiences now days can relate and will always be able to. Violas character presented warning to think about the consequences of your tricks and actions. She revealed the more innocent side of trickery where not all that happens was intended.

‘Twelfth night’ is an amusing play filled with hidden warnings and tricks. Trickery is a key theme and it’s consequences and the unintended outcomes are represented through many of the characters. Trickery is timeless and audiences, even contemporary ones, can easily find a way to relate. Overall the theme of trickery is a constant, relatable, presence throughout the play and its importance should not be
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