Summary of the plot or story
Shakespeare loved to use the device of mistaken identity, and nowhere does he use this convention more skilfully than in Twelfth Night. Viola, surviving a shipwreck, walks ashore at Illyria, and immediately embarks on a gambit to allow her to make her way in a world of men. Dressed as a man, Viola, now Cesario, insinuates herself into the service of the Duke of Illyria, Orsino. Orsino longs for the love of a neighbouring countess, Olivia , who as she is in mourning for the death of her brother, repels his advances. When Cesario (Viola) undertakes Orsino's bidding and gains admittance to Olivia's chamber, she becomes infatuated with the messenger. Viola (Cesario) then falls in love with Orsino. To add to the farce Viola's (Cesario) identical twin, Sebastian arrives on the scene. Sebastian has also survived the shipwreck, although Viola thinks he has drowned. Sebastian has been rescued by a sea captain, Antonio. But Sebastian is sad, for he believes his twin sister has drowned. The kindly Antonio gives him money to get along in Illyria but remains behind for the time being because the Illyrians think he is a pirate.
Living in Olivia’s household is her uncle, Sir Toby Belch, a merry character. Belch pretends to promote Sir Andrew Aguecheek as Olivia’s rightful suitor. Belch just wants to use Aguecheeck' money. The steward of the household is the conceited Malvolio. Late one night Belch, Aguecheek and Olivia’s jester, Feste, are drinking and singing as they often do. Olivia's handmaiden, Maria tries to quieten them but they take no notice. Malvolio catches them and blames Maria for allowing them to behave so badly in Olivia's house. Maria and the others plan to gets their own back by forging a love letter from Olivia to Malvolio.
More confusion ensues with jealousy, mistaken Identity and fights and duels. Sebastian and Olivia fall in love and marry. Orsino realises that it is Viola that he loves...