Essay about Literary Analysis of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

Essay about Literary Analysis of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

Length: 928 words (2.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is a play with themes that parallel the folly of the festival it is named after. The main storyline of the plot plays on this a lot by mixing up the stereotypes around gender that were very present at the time. However, a sub-plot involving secondary characters defines this theme even more. It takes the idea even further by relating servants’ attempts to blur the lines between social classes. Twelfth Night’s Maria and Malvolio both have great aspirations to rise above their social class. However, Maria succeeds where Malvolio fails because of her capability to make use of the satiric ambiance of her mistress’s household to achieve her goals.

To begin this essay, I will provide a brief analysis of the atmosphere of the play. I will also establish the mood created by Shakespeare to give a comedic tone to his story which would otherwise have been a maudlin story revolving around romance. The play, which actually has the full title Twelfth Night, or What You Will, was written specifically to be performed for the twelfth night of Christmas. In Elizabethan England, this was a day where people are handed out slices of a cake cooked with a pea and a bean. The two people that eat the special slices are appointed King and Queen of the evening’s festivities. As Shakespeare purposefully tried to emulate, the themes of the festivals revolve around servants according themselves more privileges than they were usually given by their masters. Like it is demonstrated by Shakespeare in the play, sometimes people dressed up in the opposite gender or even as wealthy nobles. Centering his play’s plot around this is what took his play from being only romance-oriented to being more comedic and thus more appropria...

... middle of paper ...

...ictably fails to achieve his goals.

To conclude, though Twelfth Night’s main plot revolves around melancholic romance, what truly makes it a comedy is the erratic mood set by sub-plots to recall that of the festival with the same name. In the play, both Maria and Malvolio, servants to Olivia, show great aspirations to rise high above their social classes. However, Maria, being much more in-synch with the offbeat mood of the household, succeeds easily in marrying a nobleman, while Malvolio, stiff and pompous, just fails miserably. The conclusion to the play, which is contrary to what viewers would ever hope to happen in their real lives, succeeds in bringing enjoyment to all the lower-class people who watched it. Although the play includes many clever paradoxes, it is first and foremost a play created to entertain servants on their fun-filled rare day off.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Music in Twelfth Night Essay

- Critics call Twelfth Night one of William Shakespeare’s most poetic and musical plays. Shakespeare writes poetic lines for the major characters, Viola, Orsino, and Olivia, and gives the Fool, and other minor characters, songs to sing throughout the play. The particularly romantic lines of the play make it seem as if the characters are professional poets themselves. Shakespeare also uses the music and poetry in Twelfth Night to foreshadow what is going to happen for the rest of the performance and to reveal major themes in the play....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Shakespeare]

Better Essays
1333 words (3.8 pages)

Shakespeare's Twelfth Night Essay

- Doesn't everyone want someone to love, someone to care for you as much as you care for him or her. Someone who will keep you company in lonely times or who will act as if your brains are tuned into the same wavelength. Share an inseparable bond and grow old with. Love is a very powerful emotion and can be misused because it is thrown around too casually, and be swept up in it very quickly like Viola is with Orsino when she says,” Thy tongue, thy face, thy limbs, actions and spirit, Do give thee five-fold blazon: not too fast:
soft, soft!
Unless the master were the man....   [tags: story, character and literary analysis]

Better Essays
1289 words (3.7 pages)

Disguises and Mistaken Identity in Twelfth Night Essay

- Mistaken identity and disguise are important aspects of comedy in Twelfth Night that stand at the forefront of the play’s comedy. Not only are mistaken identities and disguise evident within the main plot of the play but also in various other situations. Sexual confusion amongst characters, subversion of gender roles and farcical elements through stagecraft all effectively contribute to the dramatic comedy genre. However, it can be suggested that certain elements of Twelfth Night are not interpreted to be purely comedic; Shakespeare has incorporated serious and controversial subjects such as the idea of genuine love, the patriarchy of the time and the cruel gulling of Malvolio....   [tags: literary analysis, disguise, shakespeare]

Better Essays
1368 words (3.9 pages)

Twelfth Night Essays

- In Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night or What you Will, the characters are involved in a plot complete with trickery, disguise, and love. Each character is defined not by his or her gender or true identity, but by the role they are forced to take because of the complicated situation that arises. Unlike their gender, the speech the characters give an insight to their true personalities. In the Twelfth Night, the character Duke Orsino uses flowery and over-dramatic language, long poetic sentence structure, and melodramatic metaphors to display his overemotional romantic nature despite the different emotions in his various speeches....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Shakespeare]

Better Essays
967 words (2.8 pages)

Essay on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

- In the play Twelfth Night Viola’s disguise is a prime example of Feste’s line in the play “nothing that/ is so is so” (4.1.6-7). Everything is not as it seems, this is shown through Viola’s disguise as “Cesario” which causes issues of mistaken identities throughout the play. Viola’s disguise becomes a problem for the Duke, Orsino because he actually trusts her, and believes that she is truly a man. Another character who is affected by Viola’s disguise is Malvolio. Malvolio is used as the messenger of love between Olivia and Cesario....   [tags: Viola, literary analysis]

Better Essays
1056 words (3 pages)

Gender Roles in Twelfth Night Essay

- Born on approximately April 23, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, William Shakespeare is considered by many to have been the greatest writer the English language has ever known. His literary legacy included 37 plays, 154 sonnets, and five major poems. Among his many plays is the notable, Twelfth Night, a romantic comedy, placed in a festive atmosphere in which three couples are brought together happily. The play opens with Orsino, the Duke of Illyria, expressing his deep love for the Countess Olivia....   [tags: William Shakespeare Twelfth Night]

Better Essays
2141 words (6.1 pages)

Shakespeare’s Creativity Essay

- Shakespeare’s Creativity In William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the art of music appears in the opening of the speech as the unhappy and lovesick Orsino tells his musicians, “If music be the food of love, play on” (I.i.1) In the speech that follows, Orsino asks the musicians to give him so much musical love i.e. food that will “surfeit” and cease to yearn for love any longer. Shakespeare uses music in opening line of play and at the end by Feste singing his song. It reveals that Shakespeare has presented on stage a romantic comedy which is not detached from our everyday reality....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Twelfth Night]

Better Essays
1657 words (4.7 pages)

The True Love Between Viola and Orsino, as Compared to Other Relationships in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

- In Twelfth Night the relationships are anything but romantic. Shakespeare writes from the male point of view which implies an un-easy split between love and physical charm. In Twelfth night the romance is falsely produced by selfish desire. Duke Orsino and Viola stand out from the other relationships. By questioning the relationships between the other couples, Shakespeare highlights the true love between Viola and Orsino and the fake relationship of Malvolio and Olivia which is truly based on Malvolio’s desire of a higher status , despite his status and his personality , Malvolio tries to impress Olivia by dressing up in ridiculous clothes , which does far from his aim , and repulses Olivia...   [tags: Literary Analysis, Analytical Essay]

Free Essays
409 words (1.2 pages)

Shakespeare's Twelfth Night Essays

- Shakespeare's Twelfth Night A study of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, showing how Shakespeare's choice of form, structure and language shape meaning Wit, and't be thy will, put me into good fooling. Those wits that think they have thee do very oft prove fools; and I that am sure I lack thee may pass for a wise man. For what says Quinapalus. 'Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.' Shakespeare's plays were written to be performed to an audience from different social classes and of varying levels of intellect....   [tags: Literature William Shakespeare Essays]

Better Essays
1769 words (5.1 pages)

William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night Essay

- William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night The use of genre in any literary work assist the responder in understanding the text, as prior knowledge and past experience are used by composers to construct certain expectations due to characteristics that are recognised. Shakespeare, in his play 'Twelfth Night' uses the Romantic comedy genre and it's conventions of strong themes of love and a series of obstacles and misunderstandings concluded with a harmonious union of the lovers to explore gender issues, particularly those of women in society....   [tags: Papers]

Better Essays
1140 words (3.3 pages)