Deception And Concealment By William Shakespeare 's Twelfth Night

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From physical disguise and elaborate ploys to the perplexing notion of love, deception and concealment are both themes that drive the storyline of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Disguises and mistaken identities allow the characters in this tangled play to obtain what they desire and forge a more substantial path for themselves in life. Whether disguise is deceptive or deception is disguised, concealment is employed by nearly every character. Duke Orsino asserts a fictitious love for the countess Olivia, claiming it is real, Viola conceals her identity by assuming a disguise in order to assure her safety, Feste acts as a fool to keep his place in Olivia’s court and reveal truths about those around him, while Malvolio acts as something he is …show more content…

However, instead of respecting her time of mourning and caring about her pain, Orsino twists this tragedy into something that might benefit his courtship: “O, she that hath a heart of that fine frame / To pay this debt of love but to a brother, / How will she love, when the rich golden shaft / Hath killed the flock of all affections else” (1.1.32-35). Orsino’s feelings for Olivia beg the question of whether or not love has to do with the person who is loved or the lover’s imagination: “So full of shapes is fancy / That it alone is high fantastical” (1.1.14–15). Orsino often describes Olivia’s beauty and the effect it has on him, but he never provides persuasive reasons for why he loves her. He declares that he suffers inescapable pain, yet he gives the impression that he enjoys it to an extent, that he cannot, doesn’t know how to be, without it. The authenticity of his love is even further invalidated at the end of the play when he quickly shifts affections from Olivia to Viola.
Viola carries out, arguably, the most obvious deception in the play: a physical disguise. Viola emerges in the story after a violent shipwreck has whisked away her brother, Sebastian, and left her stranded ashore in a strange land. She quickly learns from the captain of the ship that she is in Illyria and, making the connection, inquires about the wealthy bachelor Orsino. To assemble a new life for herself and find her brother, she decides to disguise herself as

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