Twelfth Night: Themes, Settings, Stage Direction and Quote Analysis

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Twelfth Night Questions

What is the most important theme in your play and explain how the author communicates the theme throughout the play? (Remember the theme is a main message of the play - the lesson, or observation about human nature the author makes - it should take a stand not just be a topic or one word like “love”) In his play Twelfth Night is a romantic comedy, William Shakespeare develops the theme of love is pain and the power of desire, introduced in tangled relationships to be wonderfully untangled. The tile indicates the sense of urgency “Twelfth Night” meaning the last night after Christmas to extend the boundary in between the times for games and business. Countess Olivia is introduced in the beginning as a powerful independent woman, who’s sudden death of her brother has left her in charge of her own household as a male figure. Her status as a wealthy aristocratic and a single women, brings unwanted male attention from Count Orsino who is pursuing her.” If music be the food of love, play on. Give me excess of it; that surfeiting, That appetite may sicken and die.” (1.1) Count Orsino’s orientation forms the first connection within the play, this introduces the importance of love in the plot were Orsino, as we learn that he is in love with Lady Olivia however Olivia wasn't interested in the Duke’s advances. Told by Valentine that Olivia didn't share the same interest in him, Orsino was burdened by longing.They're also a circle about Lady Olivia with two other well suitors, the socially ambitious Stewart, Malvolio, Today who are altogether ignored by Lady Olivia. In the next scene the twins, Viola and Sebastian have been shipwrecked each thinks the other has drowned both are without each other. Viola chooses to disguise herself as a page and names herself Cesario to enter the service of Orsino eventually earning Orsino’s trust, and him making her his beloved Olivia messenger, who she soon falls in love with.”Disguise, I see thou art a wickedness, Wherein the pregnant enemy does much” (2.2.) Viola becomes aware of Olivia’s affection for Cesario, Viola is dressed as and is saddened by the meant result of her disguise.

How does the setting (place and time period where the story takes place) impact the play?

The play Twelfth Night was written in 1601, it was performed at court for Queen Elizabeth and after her death in 1603 for King James, it was presented at inns of court of London’s legal societies. Twelfth Night is in Illyria, a real place around the middle ages, that began around the tenth century B.C.E., it is located off the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Today, Illyria makes up Croatia which is located in Central and Southeast Europe, But Shakespeare created the fictional place called Messaline. Within the play, the Twins are shipwrecked on the land of Illyria. Viola and her twin brother Sebastian ended up washed away from each other in different areas. Both characters assume their sibling has drowned in the sea, While reading Shakespeare doesn't convey much about the twin's lives before they ended up in Illyria besides the fact that they were noble’s of Messaline. Viola cross-dresses as a boy named 'Cesario' in Act 1. Scene 4, her brother Sebastian pretends to be some guy named 'Roderigo,' and then tricks Malvolio into believing Olivia loved him, this lead to deception. So Sebastian arrives to Illyria, in the hopes to marry Olivia, Viola finds herself in love with Count Orsino and wants to marry him, but she can't because Orsino has eyes for Olivia. Furthermore, Orsino loves Viola is a boy, which is 'Cesario,” but , Olivia has fallen in love with 'Cesario,' but she can't have Viola because 'Cesario' is Viola, who is deeply in love with Count Orsino this creates a love triangle of hopeless, everyone's in love with one another. The situation changes When Sebastian go to Olivia and expresses that he has no problem lusting for 'Cesario' who is Viola's look-alike brother. Twelfth Night ends in the marriage of heterosexual pairings.

Choose one particularly effective stage direction. How does this stage direction impact the play? Remember a stage direction is something that the author wrote that tells the actors what to do. Stage directions are not said aloud in the performance but say something about how the play is staged. It can be as simple as “Juliet enters stage left” to long explanations about the emotions the actors are supposed to show or what the lighting or set should look like. Make sure to choose the one you can analyze in depth.

In Twelfth Night, Sir Andrew says to Maria “Here’s my hand,” and a few lines later she says to him “Now I let go your hand,” it is clear what stage action has occurred. Again, when, at the end of Act 1, scene 3, Sir Toby says to Sir Andrew” Let me see thee caper. Ha, higher! Ha, ha excellent!” one knows that Sir Andrew at least attempts to dance a lively dance. At several places in the Twelfth Night signals to the reader are not quite so clear, when, after Olivia first meeting with Cesario, Malvolio says to Cesario

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“She returns this ring to you...Receive it peevishly threw it to her, and her will is it should be so returned. If it be worth stooping for, there it lies…,” one assumes that, at some point during these speeches, Malvolio throws down the ring; one assumes, also, that Viola/Cesario picks up the ring at some point during her speech after Malvolio at exits. But the stage action in this scene is not clearly prescribed in the dialogue and must be decided upon by the actors, by the reader, or by the editors who, as in this case of this edition, choose to add stage directions.

Choose one powerful quote that shows the author’s best writing. Analyze the quote in depth. Be sure to include at least 2 Quizlet terms.

Shakespeare's quote conveyed the climax of the play, when Sebastian and Viola are reunited, and all the misunderstandings are cleared up.”Orsino: If this be so, as yet the glass seems true,I shall have a share in this happiest wrack.To Viola Boy, thou hast said to me a thousand times thou never shouldst love woman like to me. Viola And all those sayings will I overwear, And all those swearings keep as true in soul As doth that orbèd continent the fire That severs day from night. Orsino Give me thy hand, And let me see thee in thy woman’s weeds.” (4.1.266) Here, Orsino ushers in a happy ending for his long-suffering Viola by declaring his willingness to wed her. This quote thus sets the stage for general rejoicing—but it is worth noting that even here, the -gender ambiguities that Viola’s disguise has created still persist. Orsino knows that Viola is a woman—and a woman, apparently, to- whom he is attracted. Yet he addresses her as “Boy” in this speech, even as he is accepting her vows of love. This incident is not isolated: later, Orsino continues to call his new betrothed “Cesario,” using her male name. This odd mode of address raises, and leaves unanswered, the question of whether Orsino is in love with Cesario, the beautiful young man, or with Viola, the beautiful young woman.

Is there a foil in the play? A foil is a character who exists to show contrast to highlight the opposite features of another character in the story. Explain how the foil works to highlight the characteristics of another character.

The Lady Olivia has fallen in love with Viola as 'Cesario,' the foil is between Viola and Lady Olivia, so about Lady Olivia she's mourning the death of her brother and wears black clothing and doesn't find herself in the view of men. Viola shows up on the coast in of Illyria in the quest of wanting to find he bother, that has drowned in a recent shipwreck, both Lady Olivia and Viola have both experienced death it is hard not compare the two. Olivia has decieded to not be seen by me and wear a black veil for seven years, as for Viola dealt with grief in a furtfil opprch, Viola decides crossdress like a boy and be called “'Cesario,' he stared woring from then for Count Orsino's court.Viola's resolve her greif, and decides to forge in a quest to find her botherdespite her sadness. Olivia's 'foil” is to Viola' because Olivia fallsin love with 'Cesario,' who is a figuraive charater that love for Viola has made Lady Olivia believ in soemthing again, encorages her to opean up and stop mouring for 7 years.

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Twelfth Night: Themes, Settings, Stage Direction and Quote Analysis. (2022, March 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
“Twelfth Night: Themes, Settings, Stage Direction and Quote Analysis.” Edubirdie, 18 Mar. 2022,
Twelfth Night: Themes, Settings, Stage Direction and Quote Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 May 2024].
Twelfth Night: Themes, Settings, Stage Direction and Quote Analysis [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 18 [cited 2024 May 26]. Available from:

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