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Keeter 1 Callie Keeter Ms.

Heather Wright ENG 111 13 November 2013 A Tangled Knot Lies, deceit, and unrequited love are found repeated throughout Twelfth Night in several ways, each category having at least one character caught up in its web. Throughout the entire play, things are in disarray, no one is who they claim to be, people are mistaken for one another, and no one will tell the truth. As Olivia herself said, “Why, this is a very midsummer madness” (III.iv.51), and yes, indeed it is. From Malvolio, to Viola, to Sir Andrew, to Maria, everyone has a guise they‟re all hiding under, some more dependent on it than others. One of the three main characters is pretending to be a man, a servant is pretending to be her master, and a man is foolishly trying to portray himself as a different person to win the affections of another. That said, by sorting through all of the chaos and complete disorder, the types of disguises used can be somewhat neatly divided into three reasons: the need to please others, cruelty, and survival. The one disguise most people can reckon with is the need to please others. It‟s uncanny the lengths that people will go to in order to please others, perhaps going so far as to take on a new identity of their own. For some, it‟s so tightly knit into the fabric of their minds that they must do whatever it takes to be pleasing to someone else. For others, it‟s simply something they do to get what they want. Sir Andrew, the most ridiculous character to arrive on the scene in the play, fits into the latter category. He claims to be well learned, or at least that‟s what he told Sir Toby, who relayed the news to Maria, saying, “He plays o‟ the viol-de-gamboys, and speaks three or four languages word for word without book, and hath all the good gifts of nature”

Keeter 2 (I.iii.23-25). It is later seen that this can‟t possibly be true when he can‟t even remember what „pourquoi‟ means, after claiming to be fluent in French. Sir Andrew is there to woo Olivia, more than likely for money and social status, because he never once speaks or shows signs of love. His entire façade exists solely to please Olivia, in order to gain power. Poor Malvolio, the head over the affairs of Olivia‟s household and also the object of a distinctly horrid scheme, is another character that can identify with the latter group of people who please others for their own gain. Malvolio isn‟t exactly at the bottom of the food chain, but he most certainly isn‟t at the top. Like any normal person would, he dreams of moving upward in the social hierarchy by doing something like marrying Olivia, who is above him in class, and when his chance comes he grabs at it. After finding a love letter addressed to him supposedly written by Olivia herself, Malvolio is quick to follow whatever drastic instructions are penned on the paper, considering she‟s his one way ticket out of misery. He begins to fantasize about being rich, making statements like, “To be Count Malvolio!” (II.v.32) and continues delving into his fantasy by talking of it when he says, “Having been three months married to her, sitting in my state-“ (II.v.41-42). He even goes so far as to dream about being able to put Sir Toby, also above him in class, in his place, when he says, “And then to have the humor of state, and, after a demure travel of regard, telling them I know my place as I would they should do theirs, to ask for my kinsman Toby-“(II.v.49-52). Soon he begins meeting the absurd demands written in the letter, by doing things like wearing yellow cross-gartered stockings, smiling nonstop like a buffoon in the midst of all of the grief after Olivia‟s brother‟s death, and talking to everyone with a superior air around him as though he is above them, when he is in fact, not. This disguise he builds around himself to seek Olivia‟s approval continues until the real author of the letter is found out, and the cruel scheme is ousted.

Keeter 3 That being said, there is also much to say about the type of person who undertakes someone else‟s identity in order to harm someone else. In her disgust for Malvolio, who without fail was always there to dim someone‟s mood, Maria took it upon herself to devise an evil plot in which she would put Malvolio in his place once and for all. Knowing that she could forge her master, Olivia‟s, handwriting, Maria decided to create a fake letter detailing all of Olivia‟s supposed love for Malvolio, and also asking him to meet outrageous demands. These demands she knew would get him into trouble and make him fall out of Olivia‟s good graces, so with the help of Feste the fool, Maria began plotting. Whereas Sir Andrew and Malvolio take up disguises for the sake of getting something they want and pleasing others, Maria takes on someone else‟s identity in order to hurt someone else. Her reasons are strictly for cruelty, and she uses Olivia to her advantage. Feste, her partner in crime, takes up the moniker of Sir Topas, under which he also decided to torture Malvolio by making him think he was speaking with someone else. Using this false identity, Feste tries to convince Malvolio that he is insane, after locking him in a dark room and tying him up. Just like Maria, Feste also chooses to take up someone else‟s identity, but this character chose to create a new one rather than follow under someone else‟s. His character‟s disguise is shorter lived than Maria‟s but none the less, just the same. The third, and far more dangerous, category of disguises falls under survival. After being deemed dead as the result of a shipwreck, Sebastian, the twin brother of the leading lady, Viola, takes up a temporary new identity. He calls himself Roderigo, living under the pretense that he is from Illyria with a man named Antonio who rescued him. Sebastian and Viola are in truth from Messaline, a country not exactly on good terms with Illyria, and for the purpose of safety, both have to create new identities so that they can survive. Like Feste, Sebastian‟s guise is much shorter lived than Viola‟s. Viola finds herself in a precarious position, one which involves her

Keeter 4 throwing off her gender entirely and becoming a person of the opposite sex in order to preserve her well-being. No longer is she Viola, a noble woman from Messaline. Since no women are allowed in the Duke‟s court, she becomes a eunuch, and plays music for Duke Orsino. She is now Cesario, a servant in the Duke Orsino‟s court, clinging to a false identity in order to live. When times are desperate, one would do anything to survive, which is exactly what Viola did. By creating another person for herself entirely and slipping into that persona, Viola ensured her own safety for the time being. The leading lady Viola said, “Oh Time, thou must untangle this, not I. / It is too hard a knot for me t' untie!” (II.ii.39-40) after realizing just how mangled up everything was. Everyone was in total chaos, with no apparent solution in sight. But it must be known, that “… the whirligig of time brings in his revenges” (IV.i.366-367). In the end, everyone must cast off their masks and their true form must be revealed. Although some of the disguises last longer than others, the main idea is that none are permanent and all fade within some time frame. Malvolio throws off his façade after realizing the wrong he‟d been done, just as Maria stopped pretending to be Olivia after being found out. Feste‟s costume was short lived, as was Sebastian‟s, after having served their purposes. Even Viola was found out in the end, after which Orsino told her to, “Give me thy hand/ And let me see thee in thy woman's weeds” (IV.i.267-268). The whole idea in Twelfth Night is the recurring theme that people will play many roles throughout their lives, but none will be everlasting. While historically on the Twelfth Night of Christmas, anyone could dress up and pretend to be whoever they wanted, at the end of the day they were still themselves and nothing had changed but for a short time. The continuous idea of masquerading around as someone else is used as more of a device to get something done, and will not be too constant.

Keeter 5 Works Cited Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night. Ed. Claire McEachern. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2007. Print.

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