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Act one is the first act of the play. It is very important to
understand it as a basis to understand the following acts. It is
divided into five scenes. Each scene has its own main theme, which is
very important for the rest of the play.
In scene one, although the scene is short, it tells the Elizabethan
audience that the Duke of Illyria, Orsino is madly in love with a
beautiful countess, Olivia. He is so madly in love that he cannot
concentrate on anything. His page, Curio, tries to distract him and
asks him if he would like to go hunting. But Orsino is so much in love
with Olivia, as he said 'O, when mine eyes did see Olivia first,
Methought she purged the air of pestilence'. Afterwards, his
messenger, Valentine comes back with bad news. He couldn't get in to
This scene brings out some important characters, like Orsino and
Olivia who are the main characters in the play.
The other main character, Viola (Cesario) has been shipwrecked near
Illyria in scene2. She is worried that her brother might have drowned.
The captain tells Viola that Duke Orsino rules the area of Illyria. He
also tells her about Duke Orsino's love for Olivia. The other
important thing is that Viola decided to disguise herself as a man.
She asked the captain to help her become a servant of the Duke.
Concerning on this scene, we know that the most confusing part of the
play that is Viola disguised her as a boy called himself Cesario. If
Viola isn't a 'boy'. Orsino won't employ him as a servant to send
message to Olivia. Olivia would not have fallen in love with Cesario.
Viola wouldn't work in Orsino's Court; she wouldn't meet her twin
brother, Sebastian In the court. If Viola hasn't disguised herself as
a boy, there won't be so many misunderstandings at the end of the
play. This is to make some questions and misunderstand to solve for
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Scene three shifts the attention to Olivia's house when her uncle,,
sir Toby belch complaining about his niece mourning her brother's
death. A new set of characters is introduced and the play moves from a
co mantic world to a funny part. Sir Andrew aguecheek has also fallen
in love with Olivia competing with Duke Orsino. He knows he's hopeless
so he decides to go home, sir Toby belch persuade him to stay for one
more month. For the Elizabethan audience, the most hilarious part of
this scene is the tricks played on the puritan, Malvolio. They enjoy
watching him being played by harsh joke. The harsher, the happier they
If Sir Andrew Aguecheek had already gone home, sir Toby belch, Maria
and Sir Andrew would not have played tricks on Malvolio. This is very
funny part of the play. In the scene, we know that sir Toby and Maria
are friends. This prepares the marriage at the end of the play.
Scene 4 is the first time we see Viola dressed as a boy, called
Cesario. He becomes Orsino favourite as soon as he works in his court.
Orsino sent Cesario to Olivia on his behalf. He told Cesario all his
secrets. He sent Cesario to Olivia to tell he loves her, because
Orsino thinks Olivia will listen to him. He always says that Cesario
acts and sounds like a woman more than a man, so Olivia will listen to
him. At the end of this scene, we know that Cesario is nearly in love
with the Duke.
I think this bit is a joke. Orsino doesn't know that Cesario really is
a girl, but the Elizabethan audience does. This scene carried out
another confusing love. Orsino loves Olivia, Cesario loves Orsino.
This make the Elizabethan audience very interested to know what will
happen next. The situation is very attractive.
Scene five, two new main comedy characters are introduced. They are
Feste and Malvolio. Malvolio is a puritan who the Elizabethan audience
hates the most. Malvolio insulted Feste as a fool. Cesario comes to
Olivia's court with Orsino's message. Olivia then falls in love with
Cesario which even makes the complicated relationship more
complicated. When Maria wrote the fake letter to Malvolio and asked
him to dress on yellow stockings, the Elizabethan audience must be
At the end of Act one, Orsino loves Olivia who loves Cesario (Viola)
who secretly loves Orsino. We find out about Olivia's capacity for
se;d-deception in the rapid way she forgets her rows and allows
herself to becomes so attractive to Cesario. This problem provides the
impetus for the rest of the plot and its resolution. It creates a
basic dramatic irony in which the Elizabethan audience knows more than
the characters and the enthusiasm to know what will happen at the rest
of the play.
This scene carried out the personality of the nasty character,
Malvolio who is a puritan who the Elizabethan audience hates the most.
The scene tells us that Malvolio is a really rude and bossy steward,
which led to Maria, sir Toby and Air Andrew play tricks on him. Feste
pretends to be a priest when Malvolio is in the Black Hole to play
even more tricks on him which the Elizabethan audience loves to see.
This will make them happy and will make them want to see more. If
Malvolio wasn't so nasty, they wouldn't have played tricks on him. The
Elizabethan audience won't find it funny at all and won't be
interested for the rest of the play.
Act one prepared the Elizabethan audience the rest of the play very
well. It provided the foundation of the whole play. The Elizabethan
audience will watch the Act one first to see if it is interesting in
order to watch the whole play. Act one contains five scenes, small to
the tricks played on Malvolio, Large to the complicated triangular
love between Orsino, Viola, Olivia and Cesario. Act one is really
important to the Elizabethan audience for the rest of the play.