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How Trevor Nunn Changes The Theme Of Deception In Twelfth Night

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William Shakespeare enriches his plays with comedies by adding mistaken identities and treating them like witty and familiar themes. He adds deception to the plays to lure the audience into the world. Trevor Nunn follows a parallel path but additionally invites the idea of mistaken identities into play.

The play enriches physical deception when Viola chooses to 'conceal me what I am' (1.2.), entrusting just the Captain with her mystery. Shakespeare dresses Viola up as a boy so she could serve Duke Orsino as a servant. She wishes to serve Oliva to meet her, but she goes on to serve Orsino as he sends men to plead his love to her. Still, Viola rapidly learns the expense of keeping up a camouflage. Her goals and activities are always confounded, and she can't amend these mix-ups without giving away her identity. While hiding as a boy, she undermines her life when Orsino erroneously declares that Cesario has taken Olivia away from him, Shakespeare declares that it can be a positive too. Viola's manly camouflage allows her to express her real thoughts considerably more openly. This move is most obvious in the scene where Orsino and the hidden Viola contend about how people act in adoration. Shakespeare amplifies the theme of gender and sexual identity and makes Viola a male so she would be able to be a servant and earn a wage, unlike a female. Nunn changes Violas appearance because she would be stronger and have more power. The 19th century (the setting of the movie.) was a male dominant society where female had little to no power. Being a male would benefit for Olivia as there is a war going on and she wouldn’t look defenceless.

This is also a reoccurring indicator of the ambiguity of gender presented in the play which adds to the deception of the characters. Everyone is deceived but the fool. Olivia and Orsino are deceived by Viola's identity, Orsino is additionally fooled by Olivia’s fake love which imitates The Petrarchan love convention. Malvolio is deceived by his love towards Olivia while trying to experience carpe diem and be part of a noble circle. All of these

Shakespeare induces deception upon the characters while Nunn adds deception as an additional theme. Every character has been deceived and has even as equally deceived himself or herself. One example of misconception is seen in Olivia.

Olivia permits herself to be deceived into basic cognitive process that Viola could be a man named Cesario, despite the actual fact that her appearance...

'... I am a gentleman.' I'll be sworn thou art;

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Thy tongue, thy face, thy limbs, actions, and spirit,

Do give thee five-fold blazon.

These lines show us that she has totally deceived herself into basic cognitive process Cesario very could be a man despite the actual fact that his appearance will say otherwise. Nunn portrays Cesario as a feminine man, consequently, leads to Olivia’s love. Olivia's misconception of love Cesario is even likened to a madness. She states within the previous few lines of this scene that her mind is at odds with the actual fact that she thinks Cesario is gorgeous, showing the us that she has each deceived herself and is comparing like to a state of madness which she sees in Malvolio.

The letter is another form of deception. Maria, Sir Toby, and Sir Andrew have made a ruse to make Malvolio seem to have gone insane for their own amusement only. They play a cruel trick on him, writing a letter to find out what Olivia seems to have written to him. With this device, Malvolio is duped into believing in Olivia's love for him and his odd behavior, as directed in the letter, to show that he gives back her love. Malvolio dresses in high yellow stockings and cross garmented, which Olivia loathes. He reads passages from Olivia's letter and does so strangely forcing Olivia to see Malvolio as insane. Nunn amplifies Malvolio’s egotism throughout the movie. While Malvolio is talking to himself, he changes the sundial to his own clock which portrays the image of narcissism in his character. His self-love carries on further when he stares into his reflection in the pond and adjusts his hair while saying

“'Tis but fortune, all is fortune. Maria once told me she did affect me, and I have heard herself come thus near, that, should she fancy, it should be one of my complexions. Besides, she uses me with more exalted respect than anyone else that follows her. What should I think on ’t?” (2.5.)

This image is an echo of the self-loving Greek god. Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water and drowned. When Malvolio only starts reading the letter once he realizes, “this is my lady’s hand” (2.5.5) Malvolio’s love for Olivia is clouded like Orsino’s. Deceiving himself, Malvolio loves Olivia because of her status. Maria modified the letter to address his desire which made Malvolio fall for it so easily. This is why he was inclined to be cross-garmented and wear yellow stockings. He acts in a carpe noctem manner to match that of Olivia’s in order to “impress” her. From Nunn’s point of view, Malvolio is a power-hungry, self-loving man.

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How Trevor Nunn Changes The Theme Of Deception In Twelfth Night. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 28, 2024, from
“How Trevor Nunn Changes The Theme Of Deception In Twelfth Night.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
How Trevor Nunn Changes The Theme Of Deception In Twelfth Night. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 28 Feb. 2024].
How Trevor Nunn Changes The Theme Of Deception In Twelfth Night [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2024 Feb 28]. Available from:
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