Twelfth Night Response Essay

As you know, Twelfth Night is a comedy and comedies are ‘supposed’ to have happy endings. Indeed the ending is quite happy for most of the characters including Orsino, Olivia, Viola, Sevastian, and even Toby and Maria. The ending is far less happy, however, for a few of the characters including Antonio, Sir Andrew, and especially Malvolio. The question is: do you see this as a flaw in Shakespeare’s work or perhaps a feat maybe cause Shakespeare was trying to deliver a more complicated message than the form of a typical comedy might allow? When answering this question, please make certain to reference Festes song at the very end of the play and the mood that it creates. And, as usual, please discuss your response in detail.

The beauty of being a writer is that you allow your reader to interpret your work in a variety of ways. Being a reader, we will never truly know what Shakespeare’s true intention is when he wrote the play. But, in this person’s opinion, Shakespeare was successful in this play.

Twelfth Night: or, What You Will, is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays. It is as if Shakespeare, for his last unadulterated comedy, showed us through a woman the best way to love. The situation of the clever, gentile, and disguised Viola recalls Rosalind from As You Like It. Feste, the clown of Twelfth Night, is but another variation of the fool, Touchstone, in As You Like It, who “speaks wisely what wise men do foolishly.” Here, as in all of Shakespeare’s romantic comedies, women get what they want and men get what they need.

Even Olivia, has made the mistake of falling in love with a woman disguised as a man, gets the man she wants in the form of the disguised woman’s twin brother, Sebastian. Orsino, who opens the play with his heart-sick lamentations about music and love, gets what he needs: a woman who is capable through lasting love of bringing him out of his self-indulgent melancholy into the real world, in this case, of comedy. In this sense, one might call Shakespeare quite successful since he is able to bring about very different emotions and fuses them to show the reality of life and the complexity of emotions in relationships involved in everyday life.

         On the other hand, Feste’s concluding song tells about the sorry tale of those who do not end up happy or satisfied with their situation in the conclusion. Along with the indictment of Malvolio are other happy endings in the form of marriages. Although these events are delightfully optimistic, Feste’s final song lessens the hope of a completely happy ending.

Read also  What Macbeth Says About Good and Evil

The refrain of this song, which states “the rain it raineth every day,” insinuates that at any time the happiness that now occupies the characters in Illyria could at any time be swept away. It seems that in the form of a comedy, Shakespeare still wanted to show that sadness is very evident and possible in all aspects of life. Thus, Feste’s lamentations regarding life. In this sense, the song showcases a very realistic picture of how many people go through life. Shakespeare is able to show that pain and disappointment is part of life no matter how “up” life may seem.

The song as a whole seems to show maturation from innocence to experience and through this development was a continuum of “the wind and the rain.” With this song, Feste seems to suggest that even as a person goes through life, with its ups and downs, he or she must remember that at any time one can end up in an unfamiliar place with a completely different life.

Comedy and romantic bliss triumph in Twelfth Night, but through characters like Malvolio and Feste, Shakespeare leaves us with a feeling of unease. Like the feast that gives the play its name, Twelfth Night is festive and joyful—but all feast days must come to an end, the concluding song suggests, and give way to the “wind and the rain” of life. All good things come to an end.

More Essays

  • Twelfth Night Shakespeare

    A mood of self-indulgence prevails in Illyria. The Duke, Orsino, languidly pines for the love of Olivia, a noblewoman who has forsworn society to spend seven years mourning her dead brother. Contrary to Olivia's assumed somberness, frivolity reigns in her house. Her uncle, Sir Toby Belch, presides over...

  • The Gulling of Malvolio Detracts

    "The gulling of Malvolio detracts from the plays comedy and shows the cruelty and wickedness of the characters" In the play, Malvolio is seen as a Puritan. He detests all manner of fun and games, and wishes his world to be completely free of sin, yet he behaves very mindlessly against his stoic nature when...

  • Twelfth Night Lit Analysis

    "The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination" – Albert Einstein. This cannot be more true in the case of William Shakespeare. In regards to his play Twelfth Night his creative genius is seen in his ability to create sharp and clever characters through perfectly crafted plots and themes....

  • Love and Disguise in the Twelfth Night

    The art of love suggests that this complex emotion cannot be easily defined; it must instead be conceptualized within the confines of language and images.  One writer that mastered this presentation of love is William Shakespeare. Through his sonnets and plays, he immortalized the concept of love for...

  • Disguise in Twelfth Night

    Twelfth Night is one of William Shakespeare's so-called transvestite comedies that features a female disguising herself as a young man. This concept might be difficult to grasp by today's audience but during Shakespeare's time it was not unusual for female roles to be played by young boys. Every character...

  • Opening Scenes of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

    Throughout the beginning scenes of Twelfth Night Shakespeare uses dramatic comedy as a main way to create humour to the audience. The shock factor creates a comical atmosphere to the beginning of the play, and the form in which Shakespeare introduces the character's expresses effectively each character's...

  • ‘ultimately, Malvolio Is a Comic Character’ to What Extent do you Agree with This Statment_

    ‘Ultimately, Malvolio is a comic character' To what extent do you agree with this statement? Comedy is entertainment consisting of jokes and satire, in order to make an audience laugh. In my opinion, Malvolio is a comic character. A comic character would need characteristics to do with comedy. For example,...

  • My Masters Are you Mad_

    Interestingly, the concept of ‘madness' can be interpreted and explored in many ways. The foolishness of one's actions; the mayhem or pandemonium of a situation; or the mental instability of an individual. Shakespeare's Twelfth Night mentions ‘madness' more often than any of his other plays, suggestion that...

  • Describe the Different Forms of Disguise and Deception That Feature in Twelfth Night

    Shakespeare's play ‘Twelfth Night' is a comedy centred on a main theme of disguise and deception. The elements of both bring confusion to the characters creating comical situations throughout the play, also adding a lot of dramatic irony to entertain the audiences through the ages. There are many different...

  • Merchant of Venice Spot Analysis

    Although the play's title leads readers to believe its contents to surround Antonio, rather the play surrounds a hated and despised Shylock the Jew. However, as Shakespeare so often does, several scenes are placed almost haphazardly within the conflict and turmoil building amongst the main characters. Often...

Read also  Politics and Hierarchy in Shakespeares as you Like It