Use of Disguise in 12th Night Essay

789 WordsOct 26, 20124 Pages
How and why does Shakespeare use disguise to develop the comedy of 12th night? The use of disguise features throughout 12th night. As the play is a comedy it has to involve certain conventions such as green worlds and confusion, the inclusion of disguise allows Shakespeare to generate comedy and a positive response from the audience as well as making the conventions of comedy easier to include in the play. Shakespeare includes his first use of disguise early on in the play (A1:S2) where Viola asks the captain to ‘present me as an eunuch to him’. This disguise goes on to become a crucial part of the play, and the relationship between ‘him’ (Orsino) and Viola. Because Shakespeare has Viola say this very early on in the play when the…show more content…
Another example of disguise is found in (A2:S5) before Malvolio comes onstage we see the stage direction ‘The men hide’ In the production of the play Sir Toby, Andrew and Fabian hide in a bush unknown to Malvolio who has just entered the stage however fully obvious to the audience as the men’s heads are visible through the bush. This example shows further how disguise provokes dramatic irony. Malvolio is positioned center stage and is speaking aloud to himself which the men in the bush can hear clearly. Malvolio says that Sir Toby should ‘amend his drunkenness’ and says that he ‘wastes his time with a foolish knight’ which brings the response ‘That’s me’ from Sir Andrew. The positioning of the three men in a bush on stage causes the audience to laugh at how Malvolio is mocking them, further use of dramatic irony. This scene develops further as Malvolio becomes the subject of ridicule from the men in the bush as he reads the letter. The audience hear the men in fits of laughter in the bush as Malvolio further deludes himself upon reading aloud the letter. In (A4:S2) Feste presents himself to the imprisoned Malvolio as ‘Sir Topaz the curate’ Taking on a disguise which requires no physical disguising as Malvolio cannot see Feste. The relevance of this disguise is in the name Feste gives himself. ‘Topaz’ is a yellow stone which reminds the

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