Disguise is often presented as a cruel and painful practice. To what extent do you agree that disguise is used to create comic moments in twelfth night?
Shakespeare incorporates the technique of disguise in the twelfth night to create comedic elements in the play; however some may argue that the concept of disguise is often cruel as it creates confusion and misconceptions that could lead to serious consequences. In Shakespearian times the role of women was restricted to usually their own homes and this was the case on the stage in Shakespeare’s plays. All of the actors were men even in the women roles. This could be one of the first techniques of disguise that Shakespeare used that could portray comedy as a man in a feminine role is comedic however, it also puts across confusion especially in plays like the twelfth night where characters like Viola plays a role as a male persona.
Viola is the main and obvious element of disguise in the twelfth night. She creates the comic aspect of the play as dramatic irony is depicted because none of the characters know that Cesario, the person who she has created through her disguise, is really a woman. Her character creates a sort of love triangle between her, Olivia and Orsino but she can reveal nothing in fear of exposing her identity, “whoe’er I woo, myself would be his wife” (Act 1 Scene 4). The cruel and painful practice is uncovered through this as Olivia doesn’t know that the person she is falling for is in fact a women and Viola can do nothing to let her know this, leading Olivia on into something that can’t happen. This is also the case with Viola as she can’t proclaim her love for Orsino. Shakespeare creates torment mainly in the mind of Viola as the fate is ultimately in her hands but the disguise has restricted her. The constraint of her identity is a problem or arguably the comedic side of the twelfth night. In act 3 scene 4 Sir Toby create a duel between Sir Andrew and Viola against both their wills,...
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