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Twelfth Night

Verse consists of a series of lines of limited length usually about ten syllables in Shakespeare's plays and an intentional rhythmic pattern. Rhyming verse consists of a series of lines of limited length in which the last word or syllable of one line rhymes with the last word or syllable of another line.

Sometimes rhyming verse often appears in the form of a poem. Following are examples of passages in prose, unrhyming verse, and rhyming verse. Home Page and Index. Copyright by Michael J. William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is a romantic comedy written for the Elizabethan stage.

Shakespeare wrote the play in the festive spirit of the Twelfth Night of the Christmas season, January 6, as part of events celebrating the holiday season.

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The play uses mix-ups, pranks, and comic dialogue to achieve its effect. Shakespeare wrote Twelfth Night between and Its first documented performance was on February 2, , at the hall of London's Middle Temple, a facility that housed and educated aspiring lawyers. February 2 was considered the last day of the Christmas season, Candlemas Day, which celebrated the presentation of the child Jesus in the temple of Jerusalem and the purification of the Virgin Mary.

It was also a day set aside for the blessing of candles. Friends of Shakespeare published Twelfth Night in , seven years after the author's death, in a collection that included thirty-five other Shakespeare plays. This collection was carefully edited and proofread, then printed in folio format. A folio was a large sheet of paper folded to create four pages. Because the folio book was the first publication containing a collection of Shakespeare's plays, it came to be known as the First Folio after other folio editions were published in , , and The probable main source of plot material for Twelfth Night is "Apolonious and Silla," a story included in Barnabe Riche's Farewell to the Military Profession , published in Riche circa based his work on a story in Novelle, by Matteo Bandello circa The latter work was based on an anonymous Sienese comedy, Gl'Ingannati The Deceived , published in The action of the play is set in Illyria, in the northwestern Balkans along the Adriatic Coast.

Illyrians were ancestors of modern-day Albanians. The tone of the play is lighthearted and comic. There are no tragic developments and no deaths. Orsino : Duke of Illyria, who is also referred to as a count. He thinks he is in love with his neighbor, Olivia, but has trouble gaining her attention. His so-called love for her is fickle and frivolous, however.

Later, he realizes that he loves Viola, who has been working as a page for him in the disguise of a male. Viola : Shipwreck survivor who disguises herself as a male to get work as a page to Duke Orsino.

Twelfth Night

She calls herself Cesario. Viola is the main character, or protagonist. She is smart, resourceful, kind, and loving. Olivia : Neighbor of Duke Orsino who ignores his proposals of marriage and who continues to mourn the death of a brother long after he goes to his grave. However, she becomes enamored of the disguised Viola, thinking he is a man, and begins to emerge from her shell of sadness and sorrow.

Sebastian : Twin brother of Viola who also survives the shipwreck, although Viola thinks he has drowned. Valentine , Curio : Gentlemen attending Duke Orsino. Sir Toby Belch : Merrymaking uncle of Olivia.

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, Michael Dobson | Waterstones

Malvolio : Pompous steward of Olivia who is led to believe that she loves him. He wears yellow stockings to impress her. Feste : Fool jester and servant of Olivia. He is highly intelligent and given to clever wordplay that often centers on the folly of human beings. Fabian : Servant of Olivia.

Twelfth Night

Maria : Olivia's handmaiden and author of a letter that ensnares Malvolio in a prank that pokes fun at his haughty demeanor. Antonio : Sea captain and friend of Sebastian. Another Sea Captain : Friend of Viola. Minor Characters : Lords, priests, sailors, officers, musicians, attendants. Duke Orsino of Illyria rules all that he sees except his beautiful neighbor, Olivia.

He will not rest until he wins her heart and her hand. Early in the first scene of Act 1, at his palace in a locale on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, Orsino is pining for Olivia as musicians play for him and other lords of his realm. When the sweet sound of the music evokes in him the bittersweet longings of love, he orders the musicians to stop playing. Curio, a gentleman in his service, asks him whether he plans to join a deer-hunting party. Orsino answers with a pun in which he compares himself to a hart male deer with antlers and his feelings of love to the hunting dogs that pursue it:.

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Consequently, the duke needs help to press his suit. Help arrives in the form of a gentlewoman named Viola, who washed onto the shores of Illyria after a shipwreck. She assumes that her twin brother, Sebastian, drowned in the shipwreck. Her first job, the duke tells her, is to persuade Olivia to pay attention to him. Residing with Olivia in her household are her quick-witted jester, Feste, and her uncle, Sir Toby Belch, a merry tub of lard. In reality Belch just wants Aguecheeck around so that he can freeload on him.

The steward of the household is the conceited Malvolio, who has a talent for irritating people with his haughty demeanor. He, too, has an eye for Olivia even though he is only her servant.

Twelfth Night; Or, What You Will

Olivia gives in and receives the visitor. But it is not Orsino who has stirred her; it is his messenger, the young gentleman Cesario Viola. Suddenly, Olivia realizes Cesario is the man of her dreams, come to rescue her from her doldrums. However, Orsino does have an admirer—Viola.


She reveals her love for him, without directly saying so, when he asks her whether she loves someone:. Viola's brother, Sebastian, meanwhile, is quite alive and well, having been rescued during the shipwreck by a sea captain, Antonio. But Sebastian is sad, for he believes his twin sister has drowned. The kindly Antonio gives him money to get along in Illyria but remains behind for the time being because the Illyrians think he is a pirate. He says he will meet up with Sebastian later. Then the self-righteous Malvolio comes a-scolding.

Is there no respect of place, persons, nor time in you? Malvolio then upbraids Maria for failing to end the raucous merrymaking. Aguecheek, jealous, then challenges Cesario to a duel. Though it does not mention Malvolio by name, he realizes it is clearly meant for him and vows to follow its instructions: to smile constantly, act surly to servants and house guests, and wear yellow stockings with crossed garters. Olivia thinks him mad and commits him to the care of Belch, who promptly locks Malvolio in a dark room. Antonio the sea captain now ventures onto the scene. When Antonio asks Viola for the money he gave her still believing she is Sebastian , she appears dumbfounded and says she does not know him.

Before the officers lead him away, Antonio addresses Viola as Sebastian. Viola then realizes this stranger may have seen her brother. Could Sebastian have survived the shipwreck? Shortly after Viola leaves, Sebastian arrives and Aguecheek—unable to tell Sebastian from his twin sister, who remains in the guise of a male—takes him for Viola Cesario and strikes him. Sebastian strikes back. Shocked, Aguecheek threatens to sue him. Sebastian then challenges him to draw his sword.

Happily for Aguecheek, Olivia hears the commotion and intervenes, chasing everyone away except Sebastian. Like Aguecheek, she mistakes him for Cesario Viola. When she invites him to her house, the glow of love evident in her eyes, Sebastian trails along. In an instant he is in love. While he is in the garden, Olivia enters with a priest and proposes to him:.

Sebastian swears he will always be true to her.