Explore the Use of Disguise and Deception in Twelfth Night

2351 Words Apr 27th, 2008 10 Pages
Explore the use of Disguise and Deception in Twelfth Night

Many characters within Twelfth Night create disguises for themselves, beginning with Viola, who disguises herself as a male in order to make everyone in Illyria believe that she is in fact a man. By deciding to dress Viola in male garments, Shakespeare creates endless sexual and gender confusion with the Olivia-Viola-Orsino love triangle. Other characters in disguise include Malvolio, who wears cross garters and yellow stockings in the hope of winning Olivia’s love. Feste is another example of disguise when he dresses as Sir Topas the priest when talking to Malvolio, despite the fact that Malvolio will not be able to see him due to the dark surroundings that he is in. This
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Since the death of her brother, Olivia insists that she is now in mourning for seven years and is going to stay unmarried and without a man for this number of years. This supposed mourning is, in a sense, a disguise from the world as she is shutting herself off from it. This is representation of a type of emotional disguise presented to the audience by Shakespeare through the use of language such as “debt” in the phrase,

“To pay, this debt of love but to a brother”

Here the audience can see that Orsino is aware that Olivia is paying a so called “debt” to her dead brother. An aspect of physical disguise relating to Olivia is that of her veil. This also suggests that Olivia is trying to shut herself off from the world, “Give me my veil, throw it o’er my face”

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