Shakespeare's twelfth night

Essay by angelic_devil_galC, January 2005

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Twelfth Night Ben Bonoma As a comedy, Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, is not only meant to entertain its audience but also bring attention to problems in society. One must let go of several realistic concepts before they can truly understand Shakespeare's intentions. The audience must suspend their logic to believe that so many coincidental situations could occur. They are taken far away to a romantic land, where no penalties or consequences exist for practical jokes and constant drunkenness. It is this incongruity compared with our, everyday mundane lives that provides for the humor in this play. Humor is used to point out social concerns, such as balance in one's life, and the not to judge based solely on appearance; however, the humor is not blunt, but brought out by puns and subtitles and is meant not to take away from the greater themes and morals of the play. Shakespeare has carefully intertwined comedy and pain in both the main and the subplots to highlight the comical situations of irony and coincidence and explore the social themes.

A balance in one's life is based around self awareness: something achieved through being well balanced rather being excessive. This theme is developed from the opening were Orsino proclaims his love for Olivia, "If music be the food of love, play on./ Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,/ the appetite may sicken and die" (I.i.1-3). The idea that Orsino is in love with the idea of love, rather than the actual person is prevalent here. He cares more for the association with something as intangible as love, rather the person and the emotions that go along with love. Olivia is also a person of excess, mourning her brother's alleged death for seven years, an action which appears more for her sake rather than in...