Portrayal of Women in Twelfth Night

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The Portrayal of Women in Twelfth Night

The women in Shakespear's play: Twelfth Night, are all depicted as having power, comedic and being very emotional.

All of the female characters are given power, whether it be over each other, men or their servants. The woman with the power over the greatest number of people is Olivia, she has numerous servants and doesn't hesitate to give them orders, which can be seen in (1.5.287) when she orders Malvolio to "run after that peevish messenger" and in (3.1.92-94) when she says: "let the garden door be shut and leave me to my hearing". The second female character with power obtains it in a very different way. Maria is Olivia's servant and must obey Olivia, but since she has been around Olivia so much she can mimic her handwriting. In (2.3.150-152) Maria exclaims: "I can write very like my Lady your niece; on a forgotten matter we can hardly make distinction of our hands" later on she explains her plans and Sir Toby announces in (2.3.155-157) : "He shall think, by the letters you drop, that they come from ne niece, and that she's in love with him." .The third woman in Twelfth Night with power is Viola, she gains power after masquerading as Cesario and gaining the trust of Duke Orsino. Her power is clearly demonstrated in (5.1.62) when Viola uses her influence over Orsino to save Antonio's life by saying: "[Antonio] did me kindness, sir, drew on my side;" Because of this statement Antonio is spared. Shakespear's giving of power to women is seen as a mockery based on the beliefs of his time, since women were never meant to duel or act as guards and messengers, in short he uses the women's power to make them look preposterous.

The women in Twelfth Night are used to add comic relief by having some of the comedy caused by them and some directed at them. Maria is one such character. Shakespear uses her and the character Sir Andrew to make numerous plays on words, for example in (1.3.49-54) Sir Andrew mistakes the...
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