Inside/Outside Twelfth Night

Decent Essays

The Theme of Inside/Outside in Twelfth Night

In studying William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, or What You Will, it becomes clear that the theme of “Inside/Outside” is visible at many different levels. One of the comedic methods applied is the mistaken identity of Viola and Sebastian. Another case is Malvolio’s sudden change of character and clothes. Furthermore, Feste, who acts as a professional fool in the play, turns out to be a bright and wise character, against the expectations of the readers. Without these important elements where the characters show to be entirely different on the outside than on the inside, the play would be less intriguing, and moreover, they are essential to develop major scenes. While the reader expects Feste …show more content…

For instance, when he finds the love letter that is supposedly written by Olivia, confessing her love for him, and telling him to smile, wear yellow stockings and go cross-gartered, he says, “I will smile, I will do every thing that thou wilt have me.” (2, 5, 165-6). He thinks the letter is from countess Olivia, who he is in love with, and believes that the greatness of being her husband is about to be given to him. Before finding the letter, he wanders around in Olivia’s garden and dreams about himself “To be Count Malvolio!” (2, 5, 32). He imagines how the other characters of the play would serve him, which again shows that Malvolio thinks he stands above everyone. In addition, when Malvolio is hailed by Olivia, he arrives smiling, wearing yellow stockings and cross-gartered, which makes Olivia think he has gone insane: “Why, this is very midsummer madness.” (3, 4, 51). Consequently, in this part of the play Malvolio’s inside does not match his outside. Throughout the play he is a grave character, that detests other persons having fun, so his actions of smiling and wearing strange dress make him look like a madman, which is why he gets locked up in Olivia’s basement. Towards the end, he returns to his initial manner, and declares that he will “be reveng’d on the whole pack of you!”, referring to the characters that tricked him into believing that the letter was …show more content…

Almost all of the characters in this play either perform some sort of identity deception or are tricked by someone else that is disguised. Viola’s concealment and the resulting chaos are crucial to the development of the plot, and some of the most important elements. Without the use of disguise, there would be little adventure or conspiracy and Shakespeare would not have been able to generate enough distraction and internal struggle in his characters, thus, disguise is the a major basis for his entire

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