An Exploration of the Contribution of Disguise and Deceit to the Humour of Twelfth Night

An Exploration of the Contribution of Disguise and Deceit to the Humour of Twelfth Night

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An Exploration of the Contribution of Disguise and Deceit to the Humour of Twelfth Night

‘Twelfth Night’ could be seen as a play with dark and harsh meanings,
for example, it could be said that Malvolio’s planned revenge at the
end of the play has an uneasy effect on the audience, in a time of
general harmony. However I think that although ‘Twelfth Night’ does
raise some moral issues, overall it is an enjoyable play. It is a
play; designed to be performed in the dark, gloomy winter to bring
lightness into peoples lives and I think it is successful in doing so
because of the humorous scenes and characters. I have decided to
investigate disguise and deceit because I think it is interesting to
see how Shakespeare has used these devices to contribute to the humour
of the play.

‘Twelfth Night’ contains many scenes, which are deliberately designed
to make the audience laugh, many of which are connected to disguise
and deceit. One example is Malvolio deceiving himself that Olivia
loves him, after receiving Maria’s letter. The audience would find
this funny as Malvolio has been presented as a character they are not
supposed to feel sympathy towards. This is shown when Malvolio
interrupts Feste’s, Sir Andrew’s and Sir Toby’s late-night drinking
session. The conflict of personalities draw attention to Malvolio’s
pride: his sharp questions such as ‘Do ye make an alehouse of my
lady’s house?’ provokes Toby to tell him to ‘rub his chain in crumbs’,
(Malvolio would have worn a chain, as Olivia's servant) portraying him
as a self-important steward. Olivia also highlights Malvolios
self-importance by saying he is ‘sick of self love’.

M...


... middle of paper ...


... have:

‘I love thee so that, maugre all thy pride,

Nor wit nor reason can my passion hide’

The rhyme brings attention to the fact that Olivia's situation with
Orsino has been reversed and she can’t hide her feelings: not only is
she in love she is pleading to Cesario. The rhyme of ‘youth’ with
‘truth’ in Cesrios reply, reminds the audience of Cesarios true gender
and draws attention to the humour of the situation- Olivia has fallen
in love with a woman:

‘by innocence I swear, and by my youth,

I have one heart, one bosom, and one truth.’

The major theme in Twelfth Night is the love triangle between Viola,
Orsino and Olivia. However I think that the comedy, particularly when
associated with disguise and deceit, is the most effective device at
making the play as enjoyable and memorable as possible.

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