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WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Transcript of WHAT'S IN A NAME?
What's in a name?
When Shakespeare wrote the play, Twelfth Night, the Spanish Ambassador was named Orsino.
Given the incredible rivalry between England and Spain in the Renaissance, it makes it much more fun to mock a foolish character who is named for Orsino, a Spaniard of high rank!
From your knowledge of the play - how will Orsino prove comic?
IS THERE A POLITICAL FIGURE WE COULD CAST TODAY AND IMMEDIATELY GAIN A SMILE?
What springs to mind as you look at these names? Their function in the play is simply to facilitate love - do the names fit this purpose?
VALENTINE AND CURIO
Valentine –Although he is a character of very little consequence to the action of the play, what better name for a character in a play devoted completely to love?
Curio – Definition: “a knick-knack.” Both Curio and Valentine are minor characters, but their appearance might enhance the comedic atmosphere.
Sir Toby Belch – Belch is a synonym for ‘burp,’ and Toby was a traditional name for ale.
The connection is obvious—ale makes one burp. An alternate, modern name might be “Sir Budweiser Belch.”
Furthermore, the fact that this is Sir Toby Belch gives Shakespeare the opportunity to mock nobility.
From your knowledge of the play - how will Sir Toby
SIR TOBY BELCH
Who would you cast as Sir Toby if you were casting today?
Sir Andrew Aguecheek – Again, an opportunity to mock nobility, Aguecheek is an empty headed aristocrat.
The definition of “ague” is a sickness marked by fever and spasms; the plague.
In essence, Andrew Aguecheek’s name might be modernized to Andy Plague-face – not the name for a handsome leading man!
How will Sir Andrew prove comic?
Prince Percy from Blackadder is a similar character.
SIR ANDREW AGUECHEEK
Now if you don't get a hint from this one...
What does his name sound like?
What is the meaning of MAL?
The prefix “mal” means “bad.”
A character in Romeo and Juliet is named Benvolio, a name indicating ‘good will,’ ‘good feeling,’ or ‘good humor.’Malvolio’s name implies ‘bad will’ or a perpetual feeling of crankiness.
To compound the unattractiveness of this character, Malvolio is described as a Puritan. Puritans were the archenemies of dramatists, including Shakespeare. Play acting, and indeed drama in general, were regarded by Puritans as sinful, essentially a lie. Thus their desire to close the theatres threatened Shakespeare’s very livelihood.
What will be comic about Malvolio?
WHO WOULD YOU CAST IN THIS ROLE?
WHAT MUST HE LOOK LIKE?
HOW WOULD YOU DRESS HIM?
Feste – The jester or clown.
The definition of “festival” and the root word “fest” is celebration.
Feste’s traditional costume would have been “motley.” What does this mean?
The function of this character would be to mock characters, yet simultaneously for the audience to discern the worth of a character.
If the character can laugh at herself/himself, the audience likes her or him. It is unattractive when people are unable to laugh at themselves. How a character reacts to Feste determines the worth of that character – if characters laugh, we like them; if they become angry, we want to see them brought down or humbled.
In Shakespeare’s other great comedy, As You Like It,the similar jester is named “Touchstone.” Webster’s dictionary defines “touchstone” as “a test or criterion for determining the quality or genuineness of a thing.”
What are our expectations from Feste as a comic character?
Viola – The main character. This name is pronounced VI – ol – lah. Viola is the leading character in the play, the one with whom readers/viewers most identify.
Not just a stringed instrument, a viola is also a flower. A viola is a small flower, similar to but smaller than a pansy – like a violet. Poets often use the violet/viola metaphorically.
A viola is a flower that grows both in the shade and so close to the ground that its beauty often goes unnoticed. Since the viola is not a flashy or showy flower, one has to be perceptive to notice its beauty; this is so very true of Viola, the character, as well.
When Viola disguises herself as a male, she assumes the name “Cesario,” or “Little Caesar.” This counterfeit male is reputed to be very handsome.
Olivia – There is a strange phenomenon among the cast of characters that so many of them have similar letters in their names.
Norrie Epstein says: “Note that several of the major characters’ names contain or are near anagrams of the word ‘volio,’ which in Italian means ‘will.’ . . . For the Elizabethans, ‘will’ meant desire, specifically sexual desire.
The play’s subtitle, ‘What You Will,’ suggests the clichés of the 1960s: ‘Whatever turns you on’ and ‘Do your own thing.’
Characters love whom they will in this comedy: male, female, upper-class, lower-class – it makes no difference. It’s spring time, the mating season, and everyone must fall in love” (141).
THE FINAL NAME TO CONSIDER?
Illyria is an actual geographic region on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, currently part of northern Albania.
Shakespeare probably chose the setting because Illyria has a more temperate climate and because it is a setting quite “remote and exotic and therefore suitable to a tale of disguise, intrigue, and romance” (Boyce 308).
When Viola is washed ashore, she states that although she has landed in Illyria, her brother is possibly in Elysium. Elysium in Greek and Roman mythology (also known as the Elysian Fields or the Islands of the Blessed) was the place for the afterlife of virtuous souls. The souls there enjoyed sunshine, flowers, dancing, music, and perpetual joy. Illyria, on the surface, may seem a very similar place; for the privileged classes like Olivia and Orsino, it might be a veritable paradise.
Yet later in the play, Antonio states that “ these parts, which to a stranger, unguided and unfriended, often prove rough and unhospitable” (III, 3, 9-11). Perhaps Antonio is “reflecting on the unsavory reputation of the Illyrian coast, which was a notorious den of piracy until the 17th century. This potential for great peril in Illyria certainly explains why Viola finds it is necessary to disguise herself immediately.
Task 1: In your groups, put the story in order!
Task 2: Can you remember the 5 stages in the structure of comedy? Can you identify these stages in the story?
ON YOUR TABLES
Look up the following words:
(you can use your phones or a dictionary!)
OF COURSE, I SAY IT'S THE FINAL NAME...
but what about the title/s?
12 th Night
What you will
Will Viola be comic?
HOW WILL OLIVIA PROVE COMIC?