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Copy of Twelfth Night introduction

Background information to Shakespeare's play
by

Jennifer Sernoskie

on 28 February 2013

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Transcript of Copy of Twelfth Night introduction

Shakespeare's Twelfth Night Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, or What You Will, is a comedy that was written between 1600-1601. A Shakespearean comedy is one that has a happy ending, usually involving marriages between the unmarried characters, and a tone and style that is more light-hearted than Shakespeare's other plays. Shakespearean comedies tend to also include:

A greater emphasis on situations than characters (this numbs the audience's connection to the characters, so that when characters experience misfortune, the audience still finds it laughable)

A struggle of young lovers to overcome difficulty, often presented by elders

Separation and re-unification

Deception among characters (especially mistaken identity)

A clever servant

Tension between characters, often within a family

Multiple, intertwining plots

Use of all styles of comedy (slapstick, puns, dry humor, earthy humor, witty banter, practical jokes)

Pastoral element (courtly people living an idealized, rural life), originally an element of Pastoral Romance, exploited by Shakespeare for his comic plots and often parodied therein for humorous effects

Happy ending Many scholars believe that this play was written for a Twelfth Night celebration. Twelfth Night is a festival in some branches of Christianity marking the coming of the Epiphany and concluding the Twelve Days of Christmas THE MAIN CHARACTERS INCLUDE:

*Viola (Cesario) - twin sister to Sebastian

*Orsino - Duke of Illyria; in love with Olivia

*Olivia - a countess; in love with Cesario

*Sebastian - twin brother to Viola

*Sir Toby Belch - Olivia's drunken uncle

*Malvolio - a steward to Olivia

*Feste (a.k.a.-the fool) Olivia's jester; ironically very clever Like many of Shakespeare's comedies, this one centers on mistaken identity. The play is set in Illyria. The setting is important to the play's romantic atmosphere. Illyria was an ancient region located on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. It had a reputation for pirates. She masquerades as a young page under the name of Cesario. She enters the service of Duke Orsino, through the help of a sea captain who rescued her. During the opening scenes, Viola is shipwrecked on the shores of Illyria. Twelfth Night falls on January 6. This time of Christmas festivities is observed as a time of merrymaking. Orsino has convinced himself that he is in love with Lady Olivia, whose brother has recently died, and who will have nothing to do with any suitors for seven years. Orsino decides to use "Cesario" as a messenger to tell Olivia about his love for her. Olivia, believing Viola to be a man, falls in love with him. Viola, in turn, has fallen in love with the Duke, who also believes Viola is a man. Much of the play focuses on the subplot, in which several characters conspire to make Olivia's pompous head steward, Malvolio, believe that his lady Olivia wishes to marry him. This plot involves Olivia's uncle, Sir Toby Belch,a silly squire named Sir Andrew Aguecheek, her servants Maria and Fabian, and her father's favorite fool, Feste. Malvolio eventually finds out about the conspiracy and vows revenge. THEMES - the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work. Themes in Twelfth Night:
*Love as a Cause of Suffering
*The Uncertainty of Gender
*The Folly of Class Ambition MOTIFS -recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text's major themes. Motifs in Twelfth Night:
*Letters, Messages, and Tokens
*Madness
*Disguises
*Mistaken Identity
*Death Symbols - objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts Symbols in Twelfth Night:
*Olivia's gifts
*The Darkness of Malvolio's prison
*Changes of Clothing Twelfth Night contains one of Shakespeare's wisest fools, Feste, and one of his most foolish fools, Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Shakespeare scholar Robert Goldsmith has said that, "Feste is our guide through the mazes of emotion." Who are the fools in our society? Words invented by Shakespeare and used for the first time in this play:

hobnob - to mingle
label - to affix a name
lapse - to fall into error She has decided to dress in black to depict her
state of mourning and to hide her face from any
would-be suitors---including Orsino!
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