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Similarities Ans Differences Of The Play Twelfth Night And The Movie She’s The Man

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The play, Twelfth Night, written by William Shakespeare is a playful comedy which explores the construction of class, gender, sexual identity, and the tensions between the external and internal dimensions of each. Many on-screen and rendition adaptations of the play have been created, with the movie, She’s the man directed in 2002 by Andy Flickmen, being beloved by many. Although both works share the same plot and characters; Viola, who is a female twin seeking to flourish in the role of a male for her own reasons, which evolves into a distorted love triangle. However, She’s the Man has a reestablished comedic twist to the ending when the drama unfolds, leaving out the darker aspects in Twelfth Night. With many similarities and references to the original play, it is easy to apprehend that She’s the Man is a modern adaptation of Twelfth Night.

She’s the man and Twelfth Night share many similarities with their plots. The play begins with Viola encountering a shipwreck where she believes she has lost her twin brother, Sebastian at sea. She approaches the sea captain, Antionio, to help disguise herself, to remain a position as a manservant to Duke Orsino. Meanwhile, in the movie, the same plot is presented in a concurrent and less extreme setting. Viola is faced with the dilemma that her female football team is unable to play, so she disguises herself as her brother Sebastian whilst he is away on a music tour in London, and attends his school, to play on the football team and prove that “She is the man.” The modern adaptation does not follow the tragic events that are depicted in the play, instead, it emphasizes on comedy, overcoming the dark tones of Shakespeare’s book to focusing on a pleasant heterosexual union in the final scene. Although the feminsim message is put across, the movie by Fickman presents ultimately a conservative reading of the play by Shakespeare by making Viola embrace the femininity traditionally at the end. Additionally, the difference in target audience, results in the change of themes. With the target audience focused at teenagers in the movie, it unexpectedly takes away Shakespeare’s underlying issues which are highlighted throughout the play. In comparison, twelfth night is aimed at everyone as its’ primary purpose is entertainment as a shakespearean play in shakespeare’s time.

She’s the Man remains with the same characterization of the play and generally follows the narrative structure and only modernizes the language and setting of the play into a more conceptual script. The title provided for She’s the man was chosen for the modernized version of Twelfth Night. The new title appeals to a younget broader crowd, because of its’ unique and catchy pun, which attracts viewers attention to the movie whilst adding to the movies popularity. The language of the movie and Twelfth Night is different because of the vast varaition between time set of the two plays and the writing characteristics used in them. Shakespeare used his language to convey a difference in feelings, attitudes, or personalities of characters in different situations. An example would be when, Malvolio who generally speaks showing intelligence, yet Feste the clown often plays with words and uses puns. In comparison, there are smoothly-flowing lines from Orsino “If music by the food of love, play on, Giver me excess of it, that, surfeiting, The appetite maysicken and so die (Act 1, Scene 1)

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In tandem to this, the film takes place along a school, managing to create an atmosphere suitable for the story which combines the modern elements, although this did diminish the mystery and confusion of the strange land of ‘Illyria’. Moreover, . The movie borrows most names of the characters from the original play. Although the names in the movie do not necessarily correspond to the characters in play, there are little changes created, with the characters generally faithful to their personalities, with a few exceptions. Several close-up shots displaying her dress up as a man accentuates her beauty and physical appearance as a girl. Additionally, voices were also deliberatly made to be deepened to sound more like men, although, Viola ocasionally resorted back to her normal voice, forgetting her masculine role, when she is overcome by intimidation from the Duke. . Some statements in the script are also borrowed from the play for example duke says; “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them”. (Shakespeare 37) This is a quotation in the letter Malvolio read in the play the twelfth night. The remake of the original Shakespeare’s play into a movie loses most of the tragic impact famous in his literature. His main themes of love and death are subsided and it is hardly noticeable that the movie was adopted from Shakespeare’s work.

The film’s connections to the play are emphasized through a number of visual and dialogue references. Both She’s the Man and Twelfth Night version was able to involve their multiple cases of mistaken identities and deceoption within, with the stereotypical role of the sexes and gender to have an significant impact. The film also displays plots that challenge the dominant binaries of gender identification. At Illyria, Viola learns that despite Duke Orsino’s impressive looks and soccer techniques, he is contained and conservative when it comes with interacting with girls. Furthermore, many female characters are portrayed in a more aggressive and dynamic actions. In contrast, Twelfth Night displays male protagonists in a more confident manner, with only Viola displaying a more assertive side.

Twelfth Night and She’s the man both contain many comedic traits, yet also encompasses elements that signify the differernt representation of gender roles within society. The gender qualities portrayed in both the film and the play challenges the dominant discourse of male and female representations as well as reinforcing them.

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Similarities Ans Differences Of The Play Twelfth Night And The Movie She’s The Man. (2022, July 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved October 3, 2023, from
“Similarities Ans Differences Of The Play Twelfth Night And The Movie She’s The Man.” Edubirdie, 08 Jul. 2022,
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Similarities Ans Differences Of The Play Twelfth Night And The Movie She’s The Man [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jul 08 [cited 2023 Oct 3]. Available from:
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