Apperences vs. Reality in Twelfth Night

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Appearances vs. Reality

M.C Escher said, “Are you really sure that a floor can't also be a ceiling?” This quote is saying that what you see and what is actually there can be two different things. Appearances versus reality is a recurring theme in William Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night . Appearances hide an important reality and sometimes can get in the way of a character from developing or attaining his or her goal. The problems that happen involve disguises and deceit of one form or another and create tension amongst the characters. The reason Shakespeare has this recurring theme is because of the comedy that comes with it. It is funny for the reader to see the situational irony that occurs and is what makes the play.

Viola/ Cesario is a good first example of disguises and deceiving. Viola’s decision to conceal her identity is the first act of how appearances overcome the reality of the situation. The gender confusion helps Viola early and is easy for her to go around through a city she is unfamiliar with. Viola/Cesario’s appearance establishes the reality for the other characters and how they perceive her/him throughout the play. As she works for Orsino the love for him grows and she finds herself wishing for the reality but knows she can’t turn back what she has already done. Viola gets flustered at one point saying,“ O time, thou must untangle this, not I. It is too hard a knot for me to untie.” Again she wants to reveal her identity but at this point cant. When Viola/Cesario realizes that Olivia loves him/her the dream of Olivia is the appearance while the reality can not happen because of it.

Malvolio thinks he his better than everyone else which generally makes him a character that is not likeable. The reality of Malvolio is that he serves Olivia and will never be above the servant class. He wants to replace the reality for the appearance of him being in a higher position than Olivia because his ego allows him to think he...
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