Twelfth Night

Topics: Comedy, William Shakespeare, Love Pages: 6 (2039 words) Published: December 4, 2000
Twelfth Night "Twelfth Night is a comedy of light and shade. Its characters are not unreservedly happy and the events are not unreservedly humorous." Discuss. As a comedy, Twelfth Night is obviously intending to not only entertain its audience but also point out problems in society. It is imperative to entire merit of the play not to be realistic but to allow for empathy. Therefor to have a comedy of complete lightheartedness there would be no balance and hence no avenue for audience interaction. Without light we would have no darkness and for this reason Shakespeare has had to incorporate tragedy in order for the comedy to have it's desired effect. The two in juxtaposition accentuate each other. The characters of Twelfth Night are neither bluntly humorous nor artlessly tragic. Twelfth Night like all Shakespearean comedies is largely about social concerns. The social messages in Twelfth Night are largely about, the need for a balance in life, that you should not judge on appearance as they can be deceptive and the importance of self awareness or the humor in lack of. Neither is artlessly or bluntly humorous, as this would detract from the greater issues he in attempting to convey. Humor instead is used in contrast to some pain to antithesis the comedy and accentuate the themes. The plot of Twelfth Night is comic it explores many social issues in it's comedy yet is also not unrestrained in it's humor. As a comedy Twelfth Night follows, many conventions as far as structure, the setting is in a far away "romantic" land, situation, and events somewhat steer the plot however this is certainly not without art or subtleties. Shakespeare has carefully intertwined comedy and pain in both the main and the sub plots to highlight the comedy and explore the social themes. The audience is forced to suspend disbelief that such a coincidence could occur. The audience is transported from their ordinary mundane existence and is transported into a world of chance, non-existent penalties for practical jokes and the unmistakable harmony of events. It is this incongruity compared to everyday life that is humorous. However, this summer, frivolris setting is not completely free from conflict. There is however, some predominately "lighter" characters that serve as comic relief from the more serious main plot and represent a certain "type" of people in society. Sir Toby and Sir Andrew would have been marvelously enjoyed by Shakespearean audiences as they are today. Not a scene goes by involving these to where we can laugh and the slow wit of Sir Andrew and the awkward puns of Sir Toby. However, we find the names and foolish antics of these two rather amusing. It is with a certain hesitance that we laugh at the gullibility of Sir Toby, his disillusioned love for Olivia is rather somber and balances our opinion of him. This balances is representative of all the characters in Twelfth Night, they may be predominately comic yet they are never completely comic or completely serious. This has the effect on Twelfth Night as making it more true to life and therefor we as the audience can relate and understand the themes. Malvolio and Feste are typical examples of characters that are seen as comic, yet when looking beyond these superficialities we see a far more important role of their character in the play. Feste, his name and title as a "fool" is careful balance of light and shade. He is arguably the most intelligent character in the play and it is evident at the end of the play that he is the most powerful, because he concludes the play. Feste...
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