Twelfth Night and Crossdressing

1429 Words Dec 9th, 2000 6 Pages
An Imitation of Ignorance

The play Twelfth Night encapsulates what it meant to be a man and women throughout the 16th century. The roles of each gender were set in stone, and one could not publicly cross over under any circumstances. During Shakespearean times women were not even allowed to portray themselves on stage, men played their roles instead. In my opinion Shakespeare uses the play to show the hypocrisy of the status quo that held people from expressing their true identity. Twelfth Night demonstrates that professions should not be given on a gender basis, skill should be the only consideration. During the play one sees that only through imitation of another gender can a person reverse the roles, which they are bonded to. In
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This leaves her to question if she will ever find true love. "Yet come again; for thou perhaps mayst move that heart which now abhors, to like his love." Through this ordeal Orsino also becomes confused by his sexuality. He sees past Viola/Cesario clothing and falls in love with her. After a few moments were Viola/Cesario and Orsino are very close he comes to realize that it would not be morally right to have sexual passion for another man. He slowly moves away and begins to question his feelings. When all is resolved true feelings are finally brought to light, and the characters see both their fates had true love in the future. It is unfortunate though that heartache was due to a simple societal structure that holds no basis in the world.
Malvolio, a servant of Olivia, is also hurt by an imitation. Contrary to
Viola/Cesario's imitation this one was not done out of necessity. The imitation is executed by acquaintances of Malvolio that seek revenge at the way he had been treating them. Feste the jester, Maria, Olivia's uncle Sir Toby Belch, and Sir Toby's friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek--who scheme to undermine the high-minded, pompous
Malvolio. Malvolio is tricked into believing Olivia is in love with him because of a letter that said just that. Malvolio believes the imitation letter, and his character suddenly changes from arrogant to joyful. "Sad lady? I could be sad. This does make

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