The Themes of Deception and Self-Deceit in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

The Themes of Deception and Self-Deceit in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

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The Themes of Deception and Self-Deceit in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night
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The comical play, Twelfth night, which was written by Shakespeare, is
a classic example of seventeenth century humour, wit, deception and
self-deceit. In the play we see how twin Viola and Sebastian are
separated, and they both think that one another is dead;

"My brother, he is in Elysium" (Act I i line 1)

but are reunited in disguise, in a land of madness and delirium,
called Illyria. This essay will be covering the themes of deception
and self-deceit. Self-deceit means when a character is lying to his or
herself, and deception means something that is intended to trick
someone into believing something that isn't true. Two examples of
these are, when Viola dresses up as a man and starts to believe that
she really is a man, and when Maria makes everyone believe that
Malvolio is really mad and is possessed by the devil.

In this act we see a lot of self-deceit, for example, as Viola arrives
onshore, she dresses as a man, making herself think that she is a man.
This is the first case of self-deceit we see in the play. She dresses
as a man to get close to Orsino because he doesn't want to see any

"I have heard my father name him. He was a bachelor then." (Act 1 ii

but she starts to belive that she really is a man.

The audience sees this as a harmless act of disguise, for the moment,
although deceiving shouldn't hurt people. We also see displays of
deception as well for when Viola walks into Illyria, and meets O...

... middle of paper ...

her brother in front of her and not recognise him.

"Sebastian was my father.

Such a Sebastian was my brother to." (Act 5 i line 228)

Sebastian shows deception because he makes everyone belive he is
Cesario and doesn't say anything to anyone.

"As I perceive she does, there's something in't, that is deceivable.
But here the lady come" (Act V i )

The effect of this is that everything is resolved and goes back to
normal and they all live happily. The audience see this as the final
closing point to all the stories come to a close, and is the end of
the play.

So to conclude, self-deceit and deception do take park in the play
Twelfth Night a lot, and become main themes. I don't think that the
play would be very good without these themes because they are what
make the play good and hold it together.

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