“Twelfth Night” is a comedy play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1601 or 1602, and was first performed on February 2, 1602, as part of the traditional Twelfth Night celebrations. The play follows the story of Viola, a young woman who is shipwrecked and separated from her twin brother, Sebastian. Disguising herself as a man named Cesario, she begins working for Duke Orsino, with whom she falls in love. However, Orsino is in love with Countess Olivia, who falls in love with Viola (as Cesario) in return.
Meanwhile, Olivia’s uncle, Sir Toby Belch, and his friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek, a scheme to humiliate Olivia’s steward, Malvolio. They forge a letter to make Malvolio think that Olivia is in love with him, causing him to behave in a foolish manner. Ultimately, Sebastian, Viola’s twin brother, arrives on the scene, leading to a series of mistaken identities and confusion. Eventually, all the characters are brought together, and the truth is revealed.
“Twelfth Night” is known for its themes of love, mistaken identity, and the revelry and chaos of the Twelfth Night holiday. The play has been adapted numerous times for stage and screen and remains one of Shakespeare’s most popular works.
Here are some key facts about Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night”:
Title: Twelfth Night, or What You Will
Author: William Shakespeare
Date of Publication: 1601-1602
Setting: The fictional kingdom of Illyria
Main Characters: Viola/Cesario, Duke Orsino, Countess Olivia, Sir Toby Belch, Malvolio, Sebastian
Plot Summary: After being shipwrecked, Viola disguises herself as a man named Cesario and becomes a servant of Duke Orsino, with whom she falls in love. Orsino is in love with the Countess Olivia, who falls in love with Viola (as Cesario) in return. Meanwhile, Sir Toby Belch and his friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek scheme to humiliate Olivia’s steward, Malvolio, with a forged letter. The arrival of Viola’s twin brother, Sebastian, leads to confusion and mistaken identities, which are eventually resolved.
Themes: Love, gender and sexuality, mistaken identity, appearance vs. reality, the role of the fool, the festive spirit
Significance: “Twelfth Night” is one of Shakespeare’s most popular and frequently performed plays. It is noted for its complex plot, witty dialogue, and memorable characters, particularly the gender-bending Viola/Cesario and the pompous Malvolio. The play has been interpreted in various ways, including as a celebration of the carnival spirit, a commentary on gender roles and identity, and a satire of social conventions.
Here are the major characters in Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night”:
- Viola/Cesario: A young woman who is shipwrecked and disguises herself as a man named Cesario to work as a servant for Duke Orsino. She falls in love with Orsino but is desired by Countess Olivia as well.
- Duke Orsino: The ruler of Illyria, who is in love with Countess Olivia but eventually falls in love with Viola (as Cesario).
- Countess Olivia: A wealthy noblewoman who is mourning the recent deaths of her father and brother. She falls in love with Viola (as Cesario), but eventually marries Sebastian.
- Sir Toby Belch: Olivia’s uncle, who enjoys drinking and partying with his friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek. He is responsible for much of the play’s humor.
- Malvolio: Olivia’s puritanical steward, who is tricked by Sir Toby and Maria into believing that Olivia is in love with him. He is ultimately humiliated and locked up as a madman.
- Sebastian: Viola’s twin brother, who is also shipwrecked but survives and arrives in Illyria. He is mistaken for Cesario and marries Olivia.
- Maria: Olivia’s maid, who helps Sir Toby in his plot against Malvolio.
- Feste: The court jester, or fool, who provides comic relief throughout the play and is also a source of wisdom.
These characters, along with a number of other minor characters, contribute to the complex and humorous plot of “Twelfth Night.”
Here are some of the minor characters in Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night”:
- Sir Andrew Aguecheek: A foolish friend of Sir Toby’s who is attempting to court Olivia, but is unsuccessful.
- Antonio: A sea captain who rescues Sebastian after the shipwreck and becomes his loyal friend, even though he is a wanted man in Illyria.
- Valentine and Curio: Gentlemen in Duke Orsino’s court who serve as his attendants.
- Priest: Conducts the wedding ceremony between Sebastian and Olivia.
- Fabian: A servant in Olivia’s household who helps Sir Toby and Maria in their plot against Malvolio.
- Officers: Apprehend Malvolio and take him to be confined as a madman.
- Sea Captain: A friend of Viola and Sebastian who helps Viola to disguise herself as Cesario.
These minor characters play important roles in advancing the plot and adding to the humor and complexity of “Twelfth Night.”