Classic Aspects Of Dramatic Comedy In Twelfth Night
By effectively manipulating comedy and the satirical use of jokes and humour, Shakespeare successfully managed to comment on certain aspects of Elizabethan society in his play ‘Twelfth night’. Through his use of puns, irony, double entendres and satire, Shakespeare manages to entertain his Elizabethan audience whilst commenting on many ideas and values that revolve around their society. Twelfth Night contains many classic aspects of dramatic comedy. Central to its design is a series of tangled love interests (Orsino loves Olivia, Olivia loves Cesario and then Sebastian, Viola loves Orsino, Sir Andrew and Malvolio love Olivia); disguise (the plot hinges on Viola’s dressing as a male servant in order to survive after being shipwrecked on the shores of Illyria); mistaken identities (Viola and Sebastian are twins so alike that no-one can tell them apart ); trickery and tomfoolery; the lavish use of singing and dancing and an ending where all confusion is resolved and three marriages take place.
Perhaps the most obvious form of comedy in Twelfth Night is the slapstick humour generated by Sir Toby Belch, Sir Andrew Aguecheek (whose names are themselves a source of humour) and their cronies. The humour is immediately signalled by their use of prose, bawdy language and song that would no doubt have appealed to the working-class audience in the pit. Their buffoonery during their midnight revel in Act 2 scene iii, where they drunkenly carouse, mock Malvolio and sing at the top of their voices, reflects their sense of fun and joie de vivre. Likewise, the physical comedy in the scene where Sir Andrew and Cesario attempt to duel, but prove themselves utterly inept and fearful, is clearly entertaining and invites laughter.
The truly foolish character in the play is Andrew Aguecheek, whom Shakespeare creates to play the ‘gull’. Andrew is frequently depicted as cowardly, incompetent and unintelligent. He is unable to understand the simplest of jokes or metaphors, responding to Sir Toby’s ‘I smell a device’ with the literal ‘I haven’t in my nose, too’. Maria aptly describes him as ‘a fool’, ‘a great quarreller’, and one who has the ‘gift of a coward’. He is ludicrously led to believe that he could be a potential suitor for Olivia. In this, he proves hopeless, as is evident when he attempts to listen in to Cesario to learn how to woo and thus becomes a parody of the courtly lover. Andrew Aguecheek is a figure of fun central to Sir Toby’s revelries and a character whose denigration is amusing for both stage and theatre audiences. In the play itself, Andrew is a knight, who in their society is generalised as being courageous, noble and having great swordsmanship, all of which are characteristics Sir Andrew Aguecheek fails to possess. Shakespeare intentionally depicts him in such a way to challenge the Elizabethan society’s views on how nobleman should act within their society. Andrew’s cowardness, incompetence and overall unintelligent behaviour are all traits which make him susceptible towards mockery from the audience, particularly the lower class audience and disbelief from the upper-class audience who would see Andrews behaviour as simply obnoxious and disrespectful.
A predominant figure of comedy is the fool. In the world of Twelfth Night, Feste is a licensed and professional fool. He contributes to the festive spirit, implied by his name, through his creation of music, song and jokes. He is attached to Olivia’s household though he is something of a free spirit often frequenting the Duke’s palace and singing to him. Feste embodies the spirit of misrule in which the play delights and he is the perpetrator of folly – the antithesis of the serious Malvolio who, as a Puritan, scorns merrymaking. However, it is not merely his witty word-play that generates comedy. He also exposes truth to the other characters and the audience: he mocks Orsino’s lovelorn behaviour; he challenges Olivia’s obsessive mourning and, much to Malvolio’s horror, proves her a ‘fool’ in his witty repartee; and he lays bare Malvolio’s hubris by publically humiliating him. He thus seems able to see the true nature of those around him, mocking their foibles and flaws, leading to the comic resolution of events. There is also humour in the fact that his role gives him licence to mock his superiors. Despite his status as jester, he is far wiser than his masters (‘wise enough’ as Viola says ‘to play the fool’).
The two plays that I will explore in depth to answer this question includes ‘Twelfth Night’ by William Shakespeare, written around 1602. As well as ‘Six Characters in Search of an Author’ by Luigi, written in 1921. For the sake of this essay, it is important to decode some key words within the question. Society means that we are looking at the most acknowledged people and behavior during which each individual play was written. Represents means an accurate portrayal of...
This essay will discuss the theme of relationships reflected in the characters of Viola and Duke Orsino in the film Twelfth Night and She’s The Man. Both depict a love triangle where the female lead fallsin love with the main male character,who is in love with someone else.In She’s the Man, Viola, who pretends to be Sebastian, falls in love with Duke who is in love with Olivia. The irony is that Duke uses Viola to send his love messages...
Throughout William Shakespeare’s time during the Elizabethan Era in the late 1500s, societal standards and gender roles were not like how they are in most of the world today. Women in the Elizabethan Era were raised to believe that they were inferior to men. The Church enforced this, quoting from the bible to ensure that this principle was widely followed. Women were to obey not only their parents but any other male relatives of their family. Disobedience was seen as...
Today, our society is accustomed to vast changes in perspective of sexuality and new challenges of sexual norms. It appears these perspectives are new, but these changing perspectives can be traced back to the Middle Ages. These topics are illustrated through many works of literature. Two texts that best exemplify topics of sexual politics are Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Both works were transformative of perspectives on these topics in their respective publication periods. Their...
The word appropriation means moving a text from one context to another, but keeping particular elements like the setting and character similar. An example of appropriation from both the film and the play is the quote ‘some are born great, some achieve greatness’ this quote is said in both the film and the play and it’s just one of the many similarities between ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘She’s the Man’. A writer might choose to appropriate a text because it can...
Disguise has played a major role in society and England during the sixteenth and seventeenth century. The role of disguise was an extremely important concept in Shakespearean theatre, as it is used in to conceal the identity of one or more characters from other person in the play (Kreider 168). Often disguise within Shakespearean plays either exceeded the “boundary of any unitary image of subjectivity or resists what verisimilar role construction, emplotment of desire, and passion in relationships” (Weimann 798)....
Introduction Appearing in many of Shakespeare’s plays, the clown or fool figure is one of the most intriguing stage characters in the Shakespearean oeuvre and continues to capture the interest of modern-day critics and contemporary audiences. Although unique to each play, the character of the Shakespearean fool can generally be divided into two categories: the clown and the jester. The term ‘clown’ didn’t emerge until the sixteenth century, and it was formerly intended to designate an ignorant and fairly uneducated...
Shakespeare endeavors to make a dreary distress inside twelfth night, accentuating the torment got by the detested characters, while additionally including a detailed storyline that finishes in the traditional Elizabethan manner; marriage. Be that as it may, Trevor Nunn, with the additional component of visuals, weakens the play’s content by utilizing stage activities and camera developments. In Nunn’s 1996 adjustment of twelfth night, the adventure to rejoin couples is made more comedic and pleasant, as opposed to discouraging. This is...
In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, King Lear, and Hamlet, there is a theme of loyalty between a central character and another. This loyalty transcends what the other characters belief; they help them no matter the burden it bears on them. It also reveals itself in many different forms, through love, service, and friendship. As seen throughout countless Shakespeare plays, women are typically depicted as disloyal, but characters such as Viola and Cordelia stick out amongst the rest because of the loyalty...
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