12th Night Term Paper

Length: 2 pages Subject: Literature Type: Term Paper Paper: #73642527 Related Topics: Much Ado About Nothing, Comedy, Suffering, Humorous
Excerpt from Term Paper :

Twelfth Night Response

William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is a romantic comedy in which the basis of the comedy is love, suffering, misunderstandings, confusion, mistaken identities and sexual ambiguity. It tells the story of twin brother and sister who were shipwrecked and separated in the kingdom of Illyria; and the misunderstandings that occur in their attempt to discover each other's fate. In the midst of this, the romantic advances of a local nobleman, named Orsino, toward a young widow, Olivia, are being disrupted not only by her refusal to respond, but by his confused feelings toward his new male page Cesario. The page is actually the female twin, Viola, in disguise and adding to the situation is the fact that the young widow also becomes attracted to the page. When the male twin, named Sebastian, arrives and is mistaken for the page Cesario, even more confusion erupts. But in the end the misunderstandings are resolved, the identities revealed and everyone lives happily ever after.

One of the dominant themes of the play is the idea that love can be the source of suffering. Olivia's refusal of Orsino romantic advances causes him much consternation, while Malvolio, who is also in love with Olivia, is tricked into believing that she is in love with him and made to act the fool. One of life's ironies is the fact that in real life love can often be the source of as much pain and misery as joy and Shakespeare wanted to use love in this manner as a source...


Throughout the entire play Orsino constantly proclaims his love for the Lady Olivia, while at the same time he is attracted to his male page, Cesario. Shakespeare uses the ploy of a female in the guise of a male to entice his character into having homo-erotic feelings, and thus reveals Orsino's sexual ambiguity.

It is also part of the play's nature to have two of the characters, Orsino and Olivia, suffering from similar romantic afflictions. Olivia claims to love Orsino but the arrival of Cesario causes a shift in her affections. Like Orsino, she instantly is attracted to the young page and ultimately wants to marry him. And similarly to Orsino, she is really engaged in a homo-erotic relationship as the page is actually a woman who is disguised as a man.

The concept of mistaken identities as the source of humorous comedy has been a major theme in English literature and one that is used by Shakespeare to much advantage. While Viola is disguised as Cesario, her twin brother Sebastian arrives in Illyria to be mistaken for his disguised sister. The confusion eventually leads the Lady Olivia to marry Sebastian, believing that he is…

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