How the key scenes of twelfth night should be staged

Moreover, the manner in which he forces another to undertake his wooing for him suggests his emotions are disingenuous — he is in love with the idea of being in love and with playing the role of courtly suitor.

Twelfth night act 2 scene 4

Orsino requires music to feed his sickness and is not really in love with Olivia at all. No more! What is the position of women in this society? How will you show the social position of all the characters in how they dress and how they behave towards each other? The Christmas revels were often led by a chosen Lord of Misrule. It is also a world where the conventional social hierarchies are disrupted, given that neither Orsino nor Olivia due to her state of mourning appears capable of ruling their households as they should. The Twelfth Night Festivities — a Topsy-Turvy world Twelfth Night, the eve of the Epiphany, was, in Shakespeare's time, a traditional festival, a time of misrule when social roles were relaxed, when masters waited on their servants, when men were allowed to dress as women, and women as men. Likewise, there is humour in Viola's accidental success in winning Olivia's heart, not for her master but herself, through her genuine declarations of affection in her 'Make me a willow cabin' speech, which ironically is not actually directed at Olivia but at the absent Orsino. What is more, love is seen as capable of making a fool of even the most straight-laced of individuals.

Likewise, there is humour in Viola's accidental success in winning Olivia's heart, not for her master but herself, through her genuine declarations of affection in her 'Make me a willow cabin' speech, which ironically is not actually directed at Olivia but at the absent Orsino.

What is the position of women in this society?

twelfth night analysis

Despite his status as jester, he is far wiser than his masters 'wise enough' as Viola says 'to play the fool'. There is also humour in the fact that his role gives him licence to mock his superiors.

There is an evident festive mood with boisterous revelry; Sir Toby has dominance over Olivia's household and the austere Malvolio is overthrown.

Likewise, the physical comedy in the scene where Sir Andrew and Cesario attempt to duel, but prove themselves utterly inept and fearful, is clearly entertaining and invites laughter.

How the key scenes of twelfth night should be staged

Moreover, the fact that gender roles are inverted from the moment Viola assumes the guise of Cesario immediately creates a sense of confusion, which is sustained throughout the drama. How important are the divisions of class and status? Andrew Aguecheek is a figure of fun central to Sir Toby's revelries and a character whose denigration is amusing for both stage and theatre audiences. He also exposes truth to the other characters and the audience: he mocks Orsino's lovelorn behaviour; he challenges Olivia's obsessive mourning and, much to Malvolio's horror, proves her a 'fool' in his witty repartee; and he lays bare Malvolio's hubris by publically humiliating him. What do the characters want? Olivia acknowledges that he has been 'most notoriously abused' and Orsino insists he must be entreated 'to a peace'. Malvolio's belief that Olivia loves him, and his lustful desire for her evident when he imagines himself rising 'from a day bed where' he has 'left Olivia sleeping' lead him to behave absurdly. It is also a world where the conventional social hierarchies are disrupted, given that neither Orsino nor Olivia due to her state of mourning appears capable of ruling their households as they should. When looking at images from the reunion between Viola and Sebastian, how have the designers tried to create the sense that the two characters might be mistaken for each other? Malvolio, after all, is released from prison and his behaviour is explained when the plot against him is revealed. He is only mildly elevated above the other incompetent suitor, Andrew Aguecheek, and can be read and played as equally ridiculous: he languishes in his own supposed adoration of Olivia, employing hyperbolic language to describe a woman that, given her state of mourning, in the constructed world of the play, he cannot have seen, let alone spoken to, for many months. Viola thus assumes her appropriate position within the social hierarchy as opposed to that of a servant. To explore one particular production in even more detail, looking at the specific choices and thinking behind them, take a look at the Casebook for the Twelfth Night production.

What do you want your audience to understand about the power dynamics in Olivia's household between Malvolio, Maria, Feste, Fabian, Sir Toby and Sir Andrew and how can you help them to do that? It is also a world where the conventional social hierarchies are disrupted, given that neither Orsino nor Olivia due to her state of mourning appears capable of ruling their households as they should.

Twelfth night characters

Language as a source of humour is especially evident in the bawdy dialogue between Maria, Sir Andrew and Sir Toby and in Feste's verbal out manoeuvring of Olivia and Viola. Orsino thus represents many of the notions associated with courtly love but in his fickle, melodramatic character they are parodied. Cesario openly confesses 'I am not what I am'; but in this play, it seems, neither is anyone else. Often the audience is alive to the true meaning of innuendoes and equivocating comments when the characters are not. Twelfth Night reflects these traditions. Furthermore, what Shakespeare appears to be suggesting is that love is not something that can be constructed or created as Orsino attempts to do, but is rather an instinctive natural emotion. What will they sing? Likewise, Sebastian and Viola, divided by the shipwreck at the play's outset, are also reunited, creating a happy resolution that is satisfying for the audience. Despite his status as jester, he is far wiser than his masters 'wise enough' as Viola says 'to play the fool'. This resource is part of the Aspects of comedy resource package. No more! How has her mourning affected the household? This is a play where disguise creates significant perplexity: Viola finds herself loved by a woman while she loves a man who assumes she is a boy, making both relationships apparently impossible. What do the characters want?
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Performing Twelfth Night