Notes on Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Notes on Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Length: 952 words (2.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Act I
"'Get you to your lord. I cannot love him. Let him send no more, Unless, perchance, you come to me again.'"-- Olivia (Shakespeare 25)
Olivia shows interest in Cesario. This stirs up more dramatic irony as the audience knows that Cesario is actually Viola in disguise. Her interest in Cesario makes it more difficult for Orsino to woo her and for Viola to eventually reveal herself. What was before a simple plot of a man trying to win over the girl, is now a complex story of a love triangle.
"'If it be a suit from the Count, I am sick, or not at home. What you will to dismiss it.'" --Olivia (Shakespeare 19)
Olivia's mood has worsened due to the grief from her brother's death. Though she allows her servants to interact with her, she refuses any other company. Confirming her sorrow, her dismissive attitude implies that though she was once social, she is too affected by her brother's death to socialize.
"'Let him approach.'" --Olivia (Shakespeare 21)
Though she was too distraught to agree to socialize initially, her mind has changed almost instantly when she hears that her visitor is a young man. Her quick change of mind foreshadows her never steadfast judgment. Later after Viola reveals herself as Olivia's crush Cesario, Olivia wastes no time switching her affection to Sebastian.
Act II
"'She is drowned already, sir.'"--Sebastian (Shakespeare 28)
At this point in the novel, Sebastian believes that his twin sister has drowned. His obliviousness to her disguise and actions ultimately leads to a more confusing climax when he finds his way into Viola's plan. Sebastian's belief that Viola is dead leads to dramatic irony and more drama for viewers.
"'Fortune forbid my outside have not charmed her [....] She loves me sure.'"--Viola (Shakespeare 29)
Viola has just figured out that Olivia likes her (as Cesario) and realizes this will cause alot of complications as her job is to woo Olivia for Orsino and because she is not a man. This causes Viola to distance herself from Olivia. She realizes that revealing herself to Olivia will ruin her plan of getting close to Orsino.
"'How dost thou like this tune?'[....] 'even when they are to perfection grow.'" --Orsino & Viola as Cesario (Shakespeare 39-40)
Viola hints that she has feelings for Orsino. This simulates more drama and complications because she is still disguised as Cesario, Orsino likes Olivia, and Olivia likes her (as Cesario). This builds up the rising action as each love interest becomes tangled with each other, the plot complicates.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Notes on Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare." 13 Nov 2019

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Twelfth Night Essay: The Necessity of Cross-dressing

- The Necessity of Cross-dressing Twelfth Night        The action of Twelfth Night begins shortly after a damaging tempest shipwrecks the heroine, casting her upon foreign shores. Upon arrival in this strange seaport, Viola--like the Princess Leonide--dons male disguise which facilitates both employment and time enough to orient herself in this unfamiliar territory.   Viola's transvestism functions as emblematic of the antic nature of Illyrian society. As contemporary feminist and Shakespearean scholars are quick to point out, cross-dressing foregrounds not only the concept of role playing and thus the constructed or performative nature of gender but also the machinations of power....   [tags: Twelfth Night essays]

Research Papers
812 words (2.3 pages)

Essay about William Shakespeare 's Twelfth Night

- This is the first oration of “Twelfth Night,” spoken by Orsino. Because he is the first person to speak, I assume that he is going to be an important character-- possibly the protagonist. The content of his monologue is also very significant, as it is probably foreshadowing what will become an underlying message of the play. Orsino enjoys the sweet love-music and requests more and more until he cannot stand it any longer. Nothing about the music has changed, but somehow Orsino’s perception of it has become negative....   [tags: Love, Woman, Deception, Romeo and Juliet]

Research Papers
1125 words (3.2 pages)

William Shakespeare 's Twelfth Night Essay

- Introductory speeches in many Shakespeare plays can be a foreshadowing of what is to come. In William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth night,” we see a tremendous amount of monolog made by many different characters in many different acts. One monolog, in particular, gives the readers a hint or an impression of what goes on in the play itself. In the very first act in the play twelfth night, Duke Orsino’s introductory monolog uses diction, personification, and metaphor to show themes of desire and deception that are explored through the characters and the play in the larger play....   [tags: William Shakespeare, Love, Twelfth Night]

Research Papers
1499 words (4.3 pages)

William Shakespeare 's Twelfth Night Essay

- Twelfth Night revolves heavily around the shipwreck plot device to split apart the siblings Viola and Sebastian, leading to the development of a bizarre love-triangle and a case of mistaken identity. Besides the rather literal importance of the sea as the driving force for the play’s plot, water appears to resonate as a recurring theme throughout many scenes; specifically, it becomes a living representation for the emotional status of various characters, and woven within the ebb and flow of the tides, qualities such as fate, grief, death (imagined or real), and reflection churn amongst the brackish waters of the play’s symbolic ocean....   [tags: Love, Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare]

Research Papers
1581 words (4.5 pages)

Essay about Deception in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

- Deception in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night In William Shakespeare's comedic play, Twelfth Night, a recurring theme is deception. The characters in the play used deception for a variety of purposes. Viola's use of deception involves her disguising herself as a man in order to obtain a job with the Duke of Illyria, Orsino. On the other hand, Maria, Olivia's servant, writes a letter to Malvolio in Olivia's handwriting to make Malvolio act foolishly because of his love for Olivia. While some use deception as a means of survival, others use deception to trick others and make them act foolishly....   [tags: William Shakespeare Twelfth Night Essays]

Research Papers
770 words (2.2 pages)

Essay on Feste in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

- Feste in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night In William Shakespeare's comedy Twelfth Night, it is ironic how many times the fool is said to be dishonest, when, in fact, his role proves entirely opposite. Though sometimes the characters do not realize his hidden messages, the reader can instantly comprehend Feste's figurative language, which is evident in every scene in which the fool appears. Whether he is singing to Orsino, arguing with Malvolio, or playing around with Viola, Feste always manages to sneak in a few symbolic foretokens before his exit....   [tags: William Shakespeare Twelfth Night Essays]

Research Papers
1065 words (3 pages)

Malvolio in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night Essay

- Malvolio in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night The problem involving Malvolio in Twelfth Night has been known for a long time but still very difficult. The gist of it is this. A lot of modern readers or spectators feel that the way in which Malvolio is treated is extremely bad. We expect him to become the centre of humour; we know that in the business of comedy, a very puritanical and rather joyless figure is likely to receive comedic humiliation; but in this case the humiliation that Malvolio gets, seems protracted and harsh....   [tags: Malvolio William Shakespeare Twelfth Night Essays]

Research Papers
576 words (1.6 pages)

The Use of Deception in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night Essay

- The Use of Deception in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night            Deception is a key theme in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. The characters must use deception to obtain good things, escape bad situations, or to play cruel hilarious ticks on other people. One example of deception is when Viola clothes herself in men's clothing in order to obtain a job under the Duke of Illyria, Orsino. During another scene Sir Andrew, Fabian, Maria, and Sir Toby Belch trick Malvolio into making a fool of himself....   [tags: William Shakespeare Twelfth Night Essays]

Research Papers
697 words (2 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]

Research Papers
2141 words (6.1 pages)

Misperception and Deception in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night Essay

- Misperception and Deception in Twelfth Night                  Twelfth Night is likely one of Shakespeare’s most entertaining and complete comedy. This romance explores a generous wealth of themes and issues. The most recurrent theme is the relationship between misperception and deception. As a result of their environment and immediate circumstances, men are forced into misperceptions. Paradoxically, they are completely trapped by these illusions. Between the bad fortune they encounter and the bad fortune they themselves generate, they become caught between a rock and a hard place; they are victims of deceit as well as their own folly....   [tags: Twelfth Night William Shakespeare]

Research Papers
2156 words (6.2 pages)

"'My father had a daughter loved a man' [....] 'Say My love can give no place, bide no denay.'" --Orsino & Viola as Cesario (Shakespeare 42-43)
Viola gets Orsino interested in her when she (Cesario) talks herself up. This comes as a challenge because Orsino was so devoted to liking Olivia. Though she was initally focused on becoming Orsino's right-hand man, she has mixed business with pleasure and has tried to get Orsino for herself. This "do anything for love" attitude contrasts against her apparent manly disguise.
"'Nothing that can be can come [...] he is to be thanked.'" --Malvolio (Shakespeare 66)
In the beginning of the play, Malvolio was seen as an uptight servant. After Maria's forged epistle for Malvolio from Olivia, Malvolio shows emotion as he thanks fate for Olivia's said love for him. He no longer seems uptight and wishes to woo Olivia at the manipulation and amusement of Maria and Toby.
"'God comfort thee. Why dost thou smile so, and kiss thy hand so oft?'" --Olivia (Shakespeare 64)
After Toby and Maria convince Malvolio that Olivia is secretly in love with him, Malvolio starts to become more romantic with Olivia, believing that she loves him back. Though Olivia is out of the loop, her confusion with Malvolio's affection makes Malvolio believe she is trying to conceal her feelings for him. Malvolio believes their love has been confirmed with Olivia's confused facade.
"'Dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparation, for thy assailant is quick, skillful, and deadly.'" --Toby (Shakespeare 71)
Olivia's love for Cesario has caused a chain of events stimulating Andrew's fury. As he had tried to court Olivia multiple times, he is frustrated when he sees that she doesn't have feelings for him and likes Cesario who has been around only lately. Unlike Cesario who tries to mediate the situation, Andrew has become enraged and furious, as men tend to resort to anger.
"'I am almost sick for one, though I would not have it grow on my chin.'" --Viola (as Cesario) (Shakespeare 53)
Viola slips up again and mentions that she'd like a beard to complete her disguise. Though the clown believes it to be the wish of a hairless man, Viola has hinted to her true identity again. Her stereotypical feminine characteristics of being obsessed with her appearance is shown here. Though the clown doesn't realize it, her ruse is revealed through her femininity.
Act IV
"'Go to, go to, thou art a foolish fellow. Let me clear of thee.'" --Sebastian (Shakespeare 79)
As Sebastian enters the world of lies Viola has built up, he ruins her plans as Cesario when he is spotted as Cesario. With no comprehension that Viola is in fact alive and is pretending to be a man, Sebastian presents conflict. His interference has confused others and caused a detour with Viola's plan.
"'Now, sir, have I met you again? There' for you!'" "'Why, there's for thee, and there, and there!'" --Andrew & Sebastian (Shakespeare 80)
Sebastian has walked in on Viola's plan and has gotten caught in the middle of it. He confuses everyone with his physical similarity to Cesario. Sebastian interferes with her plan as he fights with Andrew, making everyone believe Cesario has fought with Andrew.
"'I'll follow this good man and go with you And having sworn truth, ever will be true.'" --Sebastian (Shakespeare 88)
Sebastian's true character as a romantic is shown here. Though he has only known Olivia from a glance, he has agreed to marry her. This presents an odd contrast of Sebastian's femininity with Viola's masculinity. The contrast is notable due to the fact that Sebastian and Viola are twins, mirror twins perhaps.
"'After him I love More than I love these eyes, [....] Punish my life for tainting of my love!'" --Viola as Cesario (Shakespeare 94)
Here, Viola slips up with her disguise and confesses her love for Orsino in front of Olivia and still in her manly disguise. This presents the climax of the novel when Viola has revealed too much to cover up her ruse. Olivia realizes something is wrong especially since her alleged husband is confessing that he love another man. Viola at this point has to explain everything.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night. Newly Revised Edition ed. New York City: Signet Classic, 1998. Print.

Return to