Twelfth night by William Shakespeare is a romantic comedy play that incorporates romantic scenes and comic elements in it. It’s a form of comedy play that the story line is based on romance and love within family and society. Do you believe in love at the first sight? Well, Shakespeare finds a way of telling a story based on love at first sight in a comic manner. To the viewers of the play, love is the main theme. Throughout the play, the characters engage disagreement which appears as a problem making the union of marriage difficult. Characters have no other business other than loving each other. This paper analysis the comic elements used by Shakespeare in the play twelfth night.
As the play continues, we see Shakespeare introduce role reverse to make a commentary about human understanding of gender and social class. In the play, Viola and Olivia consider themselves as men. This situation creates a misunderstanding between Viola who is considering herself as a man and Orsino. In these two scenarios, we see gender as a constructed identity in which humans can take and perform. Gender has nothing to do with sex of a person as a long we can perform the expected roles. Viola is in love with Orsino but she is shy to tell him because Orsino thinks Viola is a man. Our ideas about femininity and masculinity shows that it is all about convincing people what your gender is. In such an all male stage character, we see women who assume to be men tying to express their feelings towards real men. The boundary is brought about by their appearance and not their thoughts.
In the play, we see characters who trying to introduce social norm through the religious ceremony in the play. Social orders are introduced by people who believe in righteousness and immoral in the society. Whatever we do, we all know that our actions are either right or wrong. Breaking the law is part of our society. In the twelfth night, we see characters that adore and obey law, turn out to be the same people who break the rules during the Epiphany festival. When the wheels of justice become too heavy for the society to bear, we can all drop it and leave in an immoral world. Social norms seemed to be reversed in relation to gender and orders. Those with power develop homosexual characteristics. This is the same case with gender reversed roles. They are expected to live and behave in a certain way in relation to the norms of English people. However, they have changed their behavior to something this unacceptable in the society. Viola and Olivia are considered the two people who break the social norms of the society. In addition, we see Sir Toby and Sir Andrew drinking and over indulging during the festivals. However, because they are men and they are doing what men were assumed to do during such festivals, they were considered to be within the social norms of the society.
In conclusion, twelfth night is a comic play that revolves around love story which appears to be challenged by part of the society. Comic elements are brought in by characters who know what they are doing by do it in the wrong way. Their action is what is defined to be comic. Violation of norms and justifying being on the right side of the law brings another comic part of the English society. Gender reversed roles brings in another aspect of the English society at a time gender issues were still based on sex of a person. This play reflects main theme is love at first sight.
Shakespeare, William. Twelfth night. Simon and Schuster, 2005.