William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is a play based around disguise in
the form of deception and becoming someone different. In Twelfth Night,
disguise takes many different shapes from physical disguise to mental
disguise. Disguise is one of the main topics of the play and helps to
create the plot. It brings in confusion and comedy as well as the
darker and sadder side of the play which is disguised as fun and
happiness. Disguise is evident from the very beginning of the play. A
supposedly noble Duke Orsino is suffering due to his unrequited love
for the Lady Olivia. The Lady Olivia, however, is also suffering due
to the recent deaths of her brother and father. Her way of mourning
them involves her hiding behind a veil or disguising herself from the
truth and refusing male company:
'But like a cloistress she will veiled walk,
And water once a day her chamber round
With eye-offending brine'.
Disguise creates confusion when a character named Viola becomes
shipwrecked in Illyria, a place previously unknown to her. She has
been warned of the dangers of being alone in Illyria and decides that
it is best if she disguises herself. Viola disguises herself as
Cesario, a male eunuch, and goes to work for the Duke Orsino. Unaware
that Cesario is not what he seems, the Duke Orsino becomes very
friendly with Cesario after just three of having known each other.
Unsuccessful in his pursuit of Olivia, Orsino sends Cesario to gain
her affection for him because he thinks she will be taken in by
Cesario's youth. Viola, dressed as Cesario, falls in love with the
duke Orsino but ...
... middle of paper ...
...was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day'
There are other songs sung by Feste which reveal a darker side to the
plot such as songs with lines:
'Come away, come away death,
And in sad cypress let me be laid'.
Malvolio also promises revenge on those who played the trick on him
and his last words symbolise parts of the darker side of Illyria:
' I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you'
Disguise is the main plot in Twelfth Night and without it the
storyline would not have been possible as disguise was needed in order
to create the Orsino, Viola, Olivia love triangle. This is the main
event in the play which is created by disguise. Disguise is also used
to bring in humour and confusion to the plot without which Twelfth
Night would not be the notorious and famous play as we know it today.
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