Essay on Festivity in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

Essay on Festivity in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

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The perfect lives that make up the routine of the Illyrian citizens portrays a society in which enjoyment, and personal gain are held in utmost priority. Shakespeares mocks the passivity of the Illyrian lifestyle to explain to the audience that excess of such festivity has negative side effects such as ego and lack of true love. He expresses that the pursuit of expression and truth in itself invokes enjoyment. Sir Aguecheek mirrors the uncertainty of a person through lack of self-confidence and the desire to openly reveal his true self when lamenting “Is it a world to hide virtues in?” (1.3.131). While uncovering aesthetic and emotional mysteries, the Illyrians find that disport restrains them from actual enjoyment and love. The play follows the audience to motivate them towards dissemination of feelings and expression of passion as a “locus of growth and self discovery” (Logan 223) and to obtain true happiness by ridding themselves of excessive, meaningless fun.
By constructing an ideal universe, Shakespeare attributes intricate symbolism of characters within the utopian backdrop to the individual desire of festivity, lust, and enjoyment present in human culture which in excess is not beneficial. Shakespeare “evokes its audience a recognition of the limits of festivity by abolishing such limits in the stage-world of Illyria”(Logan 223).
Referring to the last night of Christmastide celebrations, the title of Twelfth Night in itself deems in its opening scenes Illyria as a world of privilege and leisure. According to Goddard “Illyria is a counterfeit Elysium”(302) where enjoyment evokes pleasure but not happiness and attraction invokes lust but not love. Illyria acts as a playground for revelry and limitless self in...


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...House Pub, 1987.
Delahoyde, Micheal. "Twelfth Night or What You Will." Twelfth Night. Dr. Micheal Delahoyde, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.
Garber, Marjorie. "Shakespeare as Fetish." Shakespeare Quarterly: n. pag. Print.
Goddard, Harold C. The Meaning of Shakespeare. Vol. 1. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Logan, Thad Jenkins. "Twelfth Night: The Limits of Festivity." Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama. N.p.: Rice University, 1982. 223-38. Vol. 22 of Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900. Rpt. in Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print.
Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Summers, Joseph H. "The Masks of Twelfth Night." University of Kansas City Review 22 (1955): 86-97.
Twelfth Night. Dartmouth, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.
Wells, Stanley. Shakespeare in the theatre: an anthology of criticism. Oxford University Press, USA, 2000.

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