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Twelfth Night And She’s The Man: Themes And Messages

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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 to Olivia.

In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Viola impersonates Sebastian to work as a page for Duke Orsino who in turn is in love with Olivia.Viola isa very determined girlin She’s the Man, who persists in achieving thegoalsthat she has set up for herselfeven though,sheis suppressed by her coach and her ex-boyfriend. Viola challenged the audience on the comment of soccer coach “it doesn’t matter whether you are a girl or a boy’.She is out to prove that her gender is not an obstacle to achieving her dream of becoming an ace soccer player. She works very hard at gaining the respect of the soccer coach and players. Eventually, she joinsthe team by disguising as Sebastian.However, in the process, she ends up fall in love withthe good-looking Duke, who is also on the same team.InShakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Viola disguises herself as Sebastian and realises that she has fallen in love with the Duke Orsinowho has feelings for Olivia. Both movies use the technique of irony and the use of disguises by the strong female leads to show how challenging the love is. Each female lead is aspiring to attain their dreams but develop romantic feelings for a male character who does notreciprocate their feelings. Infactthey are in love with another.

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Both movies have their own merits. However, She’s the Man is more appealing to the modern audience as they can relate to the unrequitedlove of Viola. The characters and personalities of Olivia and Duke are similar to those of today’s teenagers and young adults.For adults, it had elements of royalty and nobility. Viola in Twelfth Night wants to marry the man she loves, not the one who is arranged for her to marry. It is difficult for the audience to relatebecause arranged marriages are uncommon in today’s society.Both Shakespeare and Fickman incorporate the use of humour to make people laugh andto demonstrate ironic situations that both the Viola’s get themselves into. InShe’s the Man, Viola pushes a tampon into her nostrils when her roommates discover a stash of tampons in her bag. With the roommates, in the scene, is also Duke, the boy she feels for. To throw them off the scent, she has only one option -to demonstrate another use of a tampon. This is hilarious because it is a very unusual use of a sanitary pad. The boys only know one use of the sanitary pad.In Twelfth Night, in Act 2 Scene 3, Malvoliois tricked by the servant Maria for being pompous. She writes him a letter pretending to be Olivia, the woman he loved, asking him to wear yellow stockings and cross garters to amaze her. Poor Malvolio thinks this to be his loved ones desire and attires himself as such. This amuses the audience who see Malvolio as a puritan. The use of humour engages the audience and creates light moments in the play/movie. The modern audience enjoys nothing more than a bit of light hearted comedy as a way to spend a relaxing evening or weekend. As well, these humorousscenes depict many sides of a character to the audience. We all are susceptible to practical jokes and the modern day audience enjoy these episodes. It may well give them something to think about for April Fools day.Another element that allows the audience to see who or what the ‘real character’ is like in a play or movie is soliloquy. Soliloquy is a technique widely used by Shakespeare to bring out the personality of his characters. In Twelfth Night, Viola,in her soliloquy says:Disguise, I see, thou art a wickedness,Wherein the pregnant enemy does much.How easy is it for the proper-falseIn women’s waxen hearts to set their forms!

Alas, our frailty is the cause, not we,For such as we are made of, such we be. (2.2.26-31)She acknowledges that disguising herself is “wicked” but feels that there is nothing she can do because she wants to achieve her goals. She continues:O, Time, thou must unravel this, not I;It is too hard a knot for me to untie. (2.2.39-40)In this soliloquy, Viola/Caesario points to the weakness of women, the subjectivity of love, and the conflicts presented by appearance vs. reality.In She’s the Man, although there are no such apparent soliloquies, Andy uses the Eye of God method to tell us what is going on in Viola’s mind. The viewers canhear her thoughts. In this way the audience is able to engage with what is taking place in the scene and link it to what happens in the subsequent scenes. Audiences enjoy the modern version of Twelfth Night, which is the movie She’s the Man, because these days no one speaks their thoughts aloud. Rather people keep their thoughts to themselves and use this way to resolve issues.In She’s the Man, Viola challenges the audience to the idea that it doesn’t matter whether you are a girl or a boy, if you set your mind on something, you can achieve it. Her character reflects the idea that gender should not discriminate what a person can or cannot do. In the opening scene, she is very muscular and sturdy and she believes that the reason she is not on the team is because of her gender. She then, disguises herself as a male and finds a spot for herself on the team, dressing in a black hoodie instead of pink that Monique.

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Twelfth Night And She’s The Man: Themes And Messages. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from
“Twelfth Night And She’s The Man: Themes And Messages.” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022,
Twelfth Night And She’s The Man: Themes And Messages. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Sept. 2023].
Twelfth Night And She’s The Man: Themes And Messages [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 09 [cited 2023 Sept 25]. Available from:
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