Topic 8: The comic journey of twelfth night is usually from the darkness of ignorance to the light of self knowledge. Discuss this journey in Twelfth Night.
The play, Twelfth Night, was written as a comedy, however, one can clearly see that it served many purposes such as criticizing the society of the time and as a result posed difficult questions on a society which in itself was ignorant on many issues in the society. Many characters undergo a change from ignorance to being enlightened by self knowledge. The characters start a journey from being uninformed or lacking knowledge to an instance where the mental states of the character and thus their beliefs, desires or sensations have been affected. In Twelfth night thus we look at the comedy and significance of this transition from where the characters are uninformed of certain events to where they are enlightened and either the character or world is transformed. Ignorance first arises at the start of the play. This occurs when Viola decides to dress as a man and serve count Orsino, “ I’ll serve this duke; Thou shalt present me as an eunuch to him- ( 1, 2, 55-56)”. This creates humor as she will appear to Orsino as a eunuch: someone who is employed in a role of secrecy, but she herself keeps her gender a secret. She does this as she is ignorant as to what her position is within Illyria and hides herself in order to deduce her role in this new and strange world. She then achieves self knowledge as she realizes that she is in love with Orsino and wants to marry him, “ I’ll do my best To woo your lady. Yet, a barful strife! Whoe’er I woo, myself would be his wife ( 1, 4, 41-43)”. A comic instance is thus expressed as her means of survival in the society becomes the desire of her love. This shows she has reached self knowledge as she has fallen in love and thus her desires change her world . This is not possible at first as she herself, being a woman, cannot confirm her status and as a result she continues to...
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