Love in Disguise: Analysis of a Shakespearean Comedy
Throughout Twelfth Night Shakespeare uses the art of disguise to complicate the relationships formed between the characters of the play. The first character to assume a disguise was Viola who disguised herself as a man in order to get a good job for the count. Other examples of disguise include Malvolio who dresses in cross-garters in order to try and impress Olivia and Feste who pretends to be Sir Topas while Malvolio is locked in the dark room. All of these disguises cause tension between all of the characters involved, whether it is sexual tension or frustration and anger. These disguises as the play progresses also result in mistaken identities. In several instances throughout the text, Sebastian is confused for Cesario by Olivia and vice versa when Viola as Cesario is mistaken by Antonio for Sebastian. Of course none of these problems with disguise and identity can be resolved until Viola and Sebastian are finally reunited.
The role of the fool is an interesting one in Shakespearean comedies. In this play Feste also wears a sort of disguise. He is a witty and sometimes wise character who profits “…in the knowledge of myself” (V.i.18) and wears the costume, or disguise if you will, of a fool for he says “Better a witty fool than a foolish wit” (I.v.33-34). Feste is the source of many a memorable quote in Twelfth Night such as “Nothing that is so is so” (IV.i.8) and “That that is is” (IV.ii.14). Being a romantic comedy, the main focus of this play is, of course, romance and love. However, the reader finds that love is not always rainbows and butterflies in this particular play. For several of the characters, love actually becomes painful. Characters like Orsino, who describes love as “cruel” (I.i.23) and Olivia who uses “plague” (I.v.284) as a metaphor for love, are both examples of characters who experience pain and suffering as a result of their love. Most of the pain that comes as a result...
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