The Purpose of Disguise in Twelfth Night Essay

The Purpose of Disguise in Twelfth Night Essay

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Theme of Disguise in Twelfth Night


The notion of disguise is very important theme within Twelfth Night.  From my point of view I feel that the crux of the play is primarily based on this concept.  Indeed "there's something in it that is deceivable" summarizes this point precisely.  Disguise runs like a thread through the play from start to end and holds it all together just as tightly as thread would fabric.  Yet, paradoxically as the plot progresses there are many problems, deceptions and illusions, which provide a comment on human behavior and creating the needed escape of comedy.

The place of women within the theatre is well known, that being that they had no place within the stage.  Women's parts were played by young men in Shakespeare's day, so that the audience would have found sophisticated in Viola's part:  a boy dressing up as a woman who, in the play disguises herself as a man.

The first example of the use of disguise in the Twelfth Night is Viola's disguise as Cesario.  As aforementioned this notion is central to the plot.  I think it is clearly evident that the fluctuation in attitude to the dual role and the situations and tribulations imposed upon the character Viola/Cesario, ends up creating a better understanding of both sexes and thus, allows Viola to have a better understanding of Orsino.  Viola learns whil...


... middle of paper ...


... "Nothing that is so, is so"

Works Cited and Consulted:

Bloom, Harold, ed. William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.

Grief, Karen. "Plays and Playing in Twelfth Night". Bloom (47-60).

Nevo, Ruth. Comic Transformations in Shakespeare. London: Methuen & Co., 1980.

Shakespeare, William. The Arden Edition of the Works of William Shakespeare: Twelfth Night. Ed. J. M. Lothian and T.W. Craik. UK: Methuen & Co., 1975.

Thatcher, David. Begging to Differ: Modes of Discrepancy in Shakespeare. New York: Peter Lang, 1999.

Vickers, Brian. Appropriating Shakespeare: Contemporary Critical Quarrels. New Haven: Yale U P, 1993

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