Essay Questions Twelfth Night

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Creating much dysfunction within the play, Viola’s manly disguise as Cesario creates confusion between Olivia, whom is in love with Viola’s disguise, along with Orsino, who is unable to explain his infatuation with Cesario.

When we are first introduced to Olivia, she refuses to be courted by the Duke Orsino or Sir Andrew Aguecheek, claiming to be mourning the death of her father and brother for seven years.

When Malvolio wears overly eccentric clothes, everyone begins to get suspicious; when he begins speaking of a letter from Olivia (that she never wrote), then the other characters are absolutely positive that he has lost his mind.

Due to his unruly and unorthodox behavior, Malvolio is sequestered in a dark room.

While in such a world where the truth never dies, and is set on a gleaming pedestal set in the spotlight, the inhabitants rest their heads on their pillow easily with the certainty of their surroundings; no reason to second guess the identity of their peers nor their own.

A world in which truth is shrouded in lies is as useful as a colony of blind worker bees, everyone swarming around aimlessly looking for their flower.They take its maliciousness to a further degree, convincing Olivia and other onlookers that Malvolio’s bizarre behavior is caused by his insanity rather than their own actions, thus dragging them into the darkness along with the real butt of the joke.At the same time they attempt to convince him of this through imprisoning him and twisting his words into those of a lunatic.The others make Malvolio out to be the ignorant and psychotic, he is actually just looking the broken glasses of a letter that was given to him, purposely meant to embarrass the unfortunate chap.Malvolio himself knows that he is sane, and he accuses everyone around him of being mad.Just as the reader feels the awkwardness of Olivia’s love for Cesario, the feeling is just as potent for Orsino’s love for Viola.Although it is perfectly natural for Orsino to have the feelings he does for Viola, the reader experiences awkwardness equal to that of Olivia’s feelings simply because Orsino believes that Viola is actually Cesario, yet has this unexplainable attraction to his new best friend.Good Sir Topas, don’t believe I’m insane, / They’ve shut me up here in horrible darkness”(4. This case undoubtedly reinforces the latter of the two, as a forged letter given to Malvolio, meant to mislead him and make him look like an idiot, clouded his vision of his relationship with Olivia.Once he superimposed his own reality, the others rejected his advances and deemed him unworthy of mingling with the rest of the crew. At this point Malvolio has lost all sense of human dignity and basic pride while at the hands of such malignant torment, and it is clear that the joke has lost its mere foolery, becoming something more sinister and torturous.Shakespeare uses these examples darkness versus light to exemplify the flaws and strengths of humanity.Although, in the end, the first example worked out beautifully for each of the characters, the dismay, disillusion and confusion while Viola’s gender and identity were kept hidden in the darkness of her cloak belated this fairy tale ending and could have easily torn apart the lives of everyone involved.


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