Twelfth Night

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Twelfth Night by Mind Map: Twelfth Night

1. Themes

1.1. Topsy Turvy World

1.1.1. 'Twelfth Night' is set in a time where the 'lord of misrule' was introduced to society. A world where conventional social hierarchy is turned upside down completely.

1.2. Time

1.2.1. The play ends quickly in comparison to the beginning. This relates to the concept that life is short, and that enjoyment is therefore, significant in a world of death and work (however, it is not all positively influenced).

1.3. Love

1.3.1. The play supposedly look at true love, alongside a concept of love-the stereotypical love is viewed as Orsino and Viola, Olivia and Sebastian and so on. However, we can argue some of these border on latent homosexuality and just being a factor of situational comedy.

1.4. Gender

1.4.1. The blurring of genders prompts much thought in the play itself. There is clear latent homosexual references made by Orsino, even she Cesario is revealed to be a 'she' not a 'he'.

1.5. Folly of Ambition

1.5.1. The process of gulling is essential in the comedic play as it creates a range of situations that are difficult to manage successfully. Malvolio's gulling is incredibly dark and embraces the negative, dark comedy Shakespeare presents to us in the form of schadenfreude.

1.6. Deception

1.6.1. Deception is a reoccurring theme in Twelfth Night, it is the foundation of the major plot. However, there are many forms of deception clearly displayed in the text. 1. Self Deception (seen in Malvolio-he essentially 'falls in love' with Olivia when he is actually attracted to his desire of climbing the social ladder in the fake love letter). 2. Clear Sighted Deception (seen in primarily Viola-she purposely disguises herself as a boy to help Orsino and protect her social class. However, it can be discussed as an early challenge against social roles in the Elizabethan era. Also, Sir Toby is honest about his deceptions, and is only friends with Sir Andrew for his money). 3. Deceiving Appearance (Viola disguises herself as a eunuch to conceal her true identity. It can be viewed as an act of feminism, knowing that her gender inevitably held her back from moving forward and up the social ladder, she takes on a male role to avoid these shortcomings of being a female).


2.1. Art & Culture

2.1.1. VIOLA "And what should I do in Illyria? My brother he is in Elysium. Perchance he is not drowned.—What think you, sailors?" Twelfth Night is full of literary references- the play's shipwreck plot involving the separation of twins echoes the plot of Shakespeare's earlier play, The Comedy of Errors (influenced by Plautus).

2.1.2. VIOLA "Disguise, I see, thou art a wickedness Wherein the pregnant enemy does much. […] How will this fadge? My master loves her dearly," It's a bit peculiar that Shakespeare would put such words in the mouth of his heroine, given that harsh critics of the theater claimed that cross-dressing was a wicked and dangerous activity because it made it impossible to distinguish between men and women.

2.1.3. VIOLA "Conceal me what I am, and be my aid [...] I'll serve this duke. Thou shall present me as an eunuch to him." Viola's disguise draws our attention to the circumstances of Shakespeare's transvestite stage-this challenges us to rethink our ideas about what it means to be "feminine" or "masculine."

2.2. Love

2.2.1. ORSINO "If music be the food of love, play on. Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, The appetite may sicken and so die." Duke aligns erotic desire with gluttonous craving for food. The Duke says he must kill off his "appetite" for love by bingeing and "sickening." This alerts us to Orsino's disturbing ideas about love, but also shows us how erotic desire is linked to violence and self-indulgence.

2.2.2. VIOLA "I'll do my best To woo your lady: [Aside.] Yet a barful strife! Whoe'er I woo, myself would be his wife."

2.2.3. OLIVIA "Unless the master were the man. How now? Even so quickly may one catch the plague?" Olivia's comparison of falling in love to catching the bubonic "plague" is not unlike other passages we've seen that align desire with illness and injury (e.g. Orsino's lovesick state over Olivia herself).

2.3. Gender

2.3.1. CAPTAIN "Be you his eunuch, and your mute I'll be. When my tongue blabs, then let mine eyes not see." Viola's high-pitched voice could potentially expose her-she pretends to be a singing eunuch (a castrated man – if the genitals are removed before puberty, the voice remains high-pitched, which was pleasing to many 16th-century music lovers).

2.3.2. ORSINO "Dear lad, believe it; For they shall yet belie thy happy years That say thou art a man. Diana's lip Is not more smooth and rubious, thy small pipe." Orsino's sensual description of "Cesario's" mouth ("lip") throat ("small pipe"), and voice ("maiden's organ") is made even more provocative because the Duke describes a very attractive and androgynous boy actor, who is playing the role of a young woman, who is cross-dressed as a boy. The passage is also an erotic description of the anatomical features of female genitalia.

2.3.3. MALVOLIO "Not yet old enough for a man, nor young enough for a boy—as a squash is before 'tis a peascod." Implies that "Cesario" isn't quite ripe enough to be a "man." He compares "him" to a "squash" (an undeveloped peapod) and a "codling" (an unripe apple) in his attempt to explain away "Cesario's" androgynous good looks (undeveloped body to prepubescent youthfulness).

2.4. Social Class

2.4.1. VIOLA "O, that I served that lady And might not be delivered to the world Till I had made mine own occasion mellow, What my estate is." This passage reminds us that it's not just her gender that Viola hides when she cross-dresses as "Cesario." She also disguises her "estate" (social rank).

2.4.2. SIR ANDREW "She'll none o' the Count. She'll not match above her degree, neither in estate, years, nor wit." Toby insists that Olivia will not marry above her social rank, her age or her general intelligence. Toby says Olivia won't marry the Duke, due to his higher ranking. These comments echo a common Elizabethan idea that nuptials among "equals" made for happier marriages.

2.4.3. MALVOLIO "My masters, are you mad? Or what are you? Have you no wit, manners, nor honesty, but to gabble like tinkers at this time of night?" Malvolio is disgusted by the riotous behavior-suggesting they have turned Olivia's house into an alehouse. Malvolio suggests that Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are acting like unmannered commoners instead of members of the nobility.

2.5. Rules & Order

2.5.1. TOBY "Confine! I'll confine myself no finer than I am. These clothes are good enough to drink in, and so be these boots too." Toby's rebellious behavior and refusal to obey "the limits of order" renders him a kind of "Lord of Misrule" (a figure appointed to be in charge of festivities during holiday celebrations like Twelfth Night).

2.5.2. MARIA That quaffing and drinking will undo you." Maria accuses Toby of excessive drinking-baring in mind the name 'Toby Belch' is pretty synonymous in the way he indulges.

2.5.3. TOBY "What a plague means my niece, to take the death of her brother thus? I am sure care's an enemy to life." Toby's behavior also seems grotesque in light of the fact that he carries on while Olivia is in mourning. On the other hand, we could say that Toby's partying draws attention to the excessiveness of Olivia's sad demeanor, which is completely out of place in this play.

2.6. Deceit

2.6.1. OLIVIA "Methinks I feel this youth's perfections With an invisible and subtle stealth To creep in at mine eyes. Well, let it be." Olivia suggests that Cesario has robbed her of something (her heart, her well being, etc.). The audience is also aware that Viola's deceptive disguise plays an important role in Olivia's physical attraction to Cesario.

2.6.2. SEBASTIAN But I perceive in you so excellent a touch of modesty, that you will not extort [...] Antonio, my name is Sebastian." Sebastian's language in this passage suggests that he thinks of his identity as a very personal and intimate secret that is to be guarded and protected from those who would "extort" it from him.

2.6.3. VIOLA "A blank, my lord. She never told her love, And with a green and yellow melancholy She sat like Patience on a monument." Cesario speaks to Orsino of his "father's daughter" (Viola), who kept her love a secret. Green and yellow refer to the Humours in 16th century medicine.

2.7. Foolishness & Folly

2.7.1. MARIA "Sir, I have not you by th' hand." ANDREW "Marry, but you shall have, and here's my hand." Sir Andrew Aguecheek's not the brightest bulb, as Maria mocks him without Aguecheek realizing what's happening.

2.7.2. FESTE "He is but mad yet, madonna, and the Fool shall look to the madman." Feste points out that foolishness is a relative term when Olivia asks her "Fool" to look after the drunken and passed out Sir Toby Belch.

2.7.3. FESTE "Tailor make thy doublet of changeable taffeta, for thy mind is a very opal." Feste says Orsino ought to wear a "taffeta" doublet (Taffeta is a fabric woven of various colored threads- it changes color depending on the angle at which it's viewed.) If Orsino were to wear a taffeta coat, his costume would match his "changeable" mind.

3. Characters

3.1. VIola/Cesario

3.1.1. Reflects the quick wit of a female protagonist. Her intellect is shown in her banter with Feste the Clown. Her affections are constant with Duke Orsino. Moreover, she is honest with the audience, although disguised as a male the entirety of the time. Her character represents youth and hope in the play.

3.2. Orsino

3.2.1. His character is more in love with the idea of love, rather than Olivia. Orsino is so upper class, he makes others do his bidding-even his 'wooing'. There are some doubts about his sexuality due to his close nature with Cesario, and then marrying Viola after revealing her true gender to him. Overall, his character is a tragic stereotype. (A contrast on chivalry love).

3.3. Olivia

3.3.1. Olivia represents the ultimate of the upper class. She portrays model behaviour for women in mourning-renouncing all men. There are comedic element to her persona such as her lack of motivation, and her manipulation of Cesario to ensure his return and challenging society by wanting the Eunuch instead of the Duke.

3.4. Sir Toby

3.4.1. Represents the higher class, but also the 'topsy-turvy' aspect of the play as he acts ludicrously. Humour is created through his drunken behaviour and within his name (Toby Belch). He is without morals or regret-his realisation of having to grow up, results in marrying Maria.

3.5. Sir Andrew

3.5.1. The biggest target of the gulling in the play. He is not bright whatsoever (which is proved in his malopropisms) as well as using incorrect language to create comedy. Furthermore, his masculinity is questioned constantly with Sir Toby's sexualised jokes.

3.6. Malvolio

3.6.1. Represented as the comedic villain in the play. He reflects puritanical values in society of the time, which alienates him from the audience. He can be described as pompous and arrogant-more in love with status rather than Olivia. On the other hand, he creates a sub-plot with his gulling and mockery in the form of schadenfreude and dark humour.

3.7. Maria

3.7.1. Maria's intelligence is shown by the gulling of Malvolio, as the plot is essentially directed by her choices. She conforms to the stereotype of being a shrew (someone who doesn't like being scorned) and takes this and plots revenge. She is the only female classed as strong-willed in Twelfth Night, and has to reel in Sir Toby.

3.8. Feste the Clown

3.8.1. The Clown is ironically the most intelligent character in the play. It is he who uses the linguistic play to entertain us most, and comments on the folly of the actions displayed. Also, his songs are about winter, and death, which act as a sharp contrast towards the comedic elements in the play. You could argue he is the only 'serious' element in the play at all.

4. Comedy

4.1. Slapstick

4.1.1. e.g. mock fighting; the dancing of Sir Andrew at the command of Sir Toby.

4.2. Deceptions and Gullings

4.2.1. e.g. the disguise of Cesario in the main plot; gulling of Sir Andrew by Sir Toby; gulling of Malvolio which opens the sub-plot.

4.3. Puns and Repartee

4.3.1. e.g. Cesario's humour is created in aspects such as the dramatic irong of the language around the disguise; the misunderstandings of Sir Andrew are also a source a humour as they highlight his ignorance.

4.4. Bawdy Language

4.4.1. e.g. Sir Toby and Maria show how well matched they are; bawdy language appeals to the lower class members of the audience so they can laugh at a member of the upper class making a fool of their self.

4.5. Comedy of Manners

4.5.1. e.g. social conventions are held to ridicule; the extended periods of mourning which on reflection appear to be quite hollow on nature as they are so quickly forgotten by Olivia.

4.6. Romantic Comedy

4.6.1. e.g. disguise, deception, and the happy ever after ending in marriage; the whole plot leads to a romantic comedy; all characters end up with the 'correct' partner.

4.7. Schadenfreude

4.7.1. e.g. the delight at the downfall of another characters; relates to Malvolio whose arrogance and concept of self-importance make us happy as he gets the karma he deserves at the end.