Bob writes a film and gives it what he thinks is the most wonderful, uplifting Happy Ending imaginable. Surely everyone will enjoy it as much as he — wait Why are the critics hammering the hell out of it? Well, it turns out the vast majority of the viewers disagree with Bob about what makes a happy ending.
Indeed, Shakespeare may have written the play earlier and revised it for the Christmas festival, for it contains many signs of revision. The tone of Twelfth Night is consistently appropriate to high merriment.
With nine comedies behind him when he wrote it, Shakespeare was at the height of his comic powers and in an exalted mood to which he never returned.
Twelfth Night recombines many elements and devices from earlier plays—particularly The Two Gentlemen of Verona c.
However, the sadnesses are, for the most part, those mannered sadnesses that the Elizabethans savored. Orsino, for example, particularly revels in a sweet melancholy reminiscent of that which afflicts Antonio at the beginning of The Merchant of Venice pr.
Orsino revels in the longings of love and in the bittersweet satiety of his romantic self-indulgence. He is in love with love.
On the other side of the city is the household of Olivia, which balances Orsino and his establishment. The point of contact between Orsino and Olivia—ferrying back and forth between the two—is Viola. As Cesario, she also is sad, but her sadness, like the rest of her behavior, is more direct and human.
She seems destined to unite the two melancholy dreamers, but what the play instead accomplishes is that Viola, in her own person and in that of her alter ego, her brother, becomes part of both households. The ultimate outcome is a glorious resolution. It is, of course, immaterial to the dreamy Orsino that he gets Viola instead of Olivia—the romantic emotion is more important to him than is the specific person.
Olivia, already drawn out of her seclusion by the disguised Viola, gets what is even better for her, Sebastian. Moreover, the drama is suffused with bittersweet music, and the idyllic setting in Illyria blends with language and imagery to create a most delightful atmosphere wholly appropriate to the celebration of love and to the enjoyment of this world.
He is called a Puritan, but although he is not a type, he does betray the characteristics then associated with that austere Anglican sect.
He is a self-important, serious-minded person with high ideals who cannot bear the thought of others being happy. Yet, Shakespeare does not indulge in a satire on Puritanism.
He uses the critical powers of comedy in indirect ways. Malvolio is ridiculous, but so are the cavaliers who surround him. While these characters are flawed, they are certainly more engaging than the inflated Malvolio. Shakespeare does not set up the contrast as a political allegory, with right on one side and wrong on the other.
Nevertheless, Malvolio is an intrusion into the otherwise idyllic world of the play. He cannot love; his desire for the hand of Olivia is grounded in an earnest will to get ahead.
He cannot celebrate; he is too pious and self-involved. Nothing is left for him but to be the butt of a joke—his role in the celebration. Some critics have suggested that Malvolio is treated too harshly, but a Renaissance audience would have understood how ludicrous and indecorous it was for a man of his class to think, even for a moment, of courting Countess Olivia.
His pompous and blustery language is the key to how alien he is to this festive context. When he does his bit, Olivia casually mentions that perhaps he is put upon, but this is the only sympathetic gesture he deserves.
He is the force that threatens to destroy the celebration of all that is good and refined and joyful in Elizabethan society.
Twelfth Night develops its theme on two levels. The main plot, written mostly in blank verse, shows the nobility in pursuit of love. The subplot features lower characters, who speak in prose and pursue drunkenness and mischief.
In the main plot, the twins Viola and Sebastian are shipwrecked on the Illyrian coast and separated; each presumes the other dead. Disguised as a young man, Viola joins the court of Duke Orsino, falls in love with him, and becomes his favorite.
Orsino loves the lady Olivia, who refuses his attentions because she still mourns her dead brother. Sir Toby also persuades Sir Andrew to challenge Viola to a duel.
Freed, Malvolio stomps out vowing revenge on them all. Symbolically opposed to Malvolio is Feste, the wise clown. Shakespeare implies that people should open themselves to celebration and love, even if it makes them appear foolish, since it is truly foolish to deny these life forces.
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Twelfth Night Critical Essays an ambiguous ending in Twelfth Night? I am glad you have identified that the ending of this excellent play is not entirely the "happy ending" that we would expect.
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