In the play, The Taming of the Shrew, by William Shakespeare, there is a recurring theme of people hiding their real identity. First, there are cases of deception, such as Tranio pretending to be Lucentio, Lucentio pretending to be a Latin tutor, Hortensio pretending to be a music tutor. More complex than these obvious examples of deception are Shakespeare’s clever uses of psychological masks. Several characters in the play take on roles that do not agree with their personalities. The psychological masks that they wear are not immediately apparent to the audience, or even to the characters themselves, until they are unmasked through the course of the play. Shakespeare mostly uses this device with the characters of Katherina, Bianca,
In “Twelfth Night”, disguise is a key theme in order for the play to take shape. Within the first three scenes, we have several examples of characters deliberately deceiving others in order to achieve a selfish goal. An example of this is seen through Viola’s decision to disguise herself as a eunuch in order to find favour with the duke.
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.
Adding to the humor of the comedy, Feste dresses up as Sir Topaz, the curate and visits the imprisoned Malvolio with Maria and Sir Toby. There he uses his humor to abuse Malvolio who is still unaware that he is actually talking to the clown rather than to the real Sir Topaz. Feste (disguised as Sir Topaz) calls Malvolio a "lunatic" (IV.ii.23), "Satan"(IV.ii.32) and confuses him by wittingly making him a fool. Throughout the play, Malvolio has always been the person who intentionally spoils the pleasure of other people. He is Feste's worst nightmare in the play, but in
Disguise is one of Shakespeare's favorite ploys found in varying degrees in each of the mentioned works. Through it he alters the identity of an individual (frequently female character, though not always) and uses this disguise to heighten irony, develop theme, and enhance subtle comic innuendo. In As You Like It, Shakespeare develops specific ironies where the dialogue takes on new meaning when the true identity of the speaker (or hearer) is placed over the dialogue. By having characters in disguise, Shakespeare opens the door for all kinds of comic twists from the shepherdess in love with the "shepherd" Ganymede who is really a girl (Rosalind) to Orlando sharing feelings of love to Ganymede who is really Orlando's love Rosalind in disguise. The difficulty in maintaining a disguise or hidden identity is shown in the desire to say and experience things in the one identity than can only be accomplished by the alter identity which compounds the verbal comedy in the mistaken meanings of what is being said. In Measure for Measure, the Duke uses disguise and mistaken identity to reveal the truth about Angelo's character. At the same time this disguise provides comic moments as Lucio speaks of the Duke to the Duke while unaware of the Duke's identity.
In the Shakespearean world of Hamlet, acting and putting on a mask are even more dangerous weapons that swords and poisons, for it is the one that acts that is able to be a foil to those. There are numerous instances of acting in the play, each one of them being detrimental to Hamlet’s revenge plot, for Hamlet uses the powers of acting to their utmost capacities.
In the Shakespearian play: The Taming of the Shrew, deception is one of the major concepts. A tangled web is created in the play through deception of character behavior and the change between clothing and class. Most of the deception in the play have particular motives behind them and create dramatic irony. Shakespeare has used dramatic irony to create a comedic play.
Shakespeare shows the connection between disguise and deceit in Kent. Kent doesn’t wear a disguise for immoral reasons. King Lear exiled him after Kent was against Lear’s decision to divide his kingdom. Kent wants to serve the
A theme throughout many of Shakespeare’s works, is disguise. His characters seem to love to disguise themselves. It turns to be quite important, especially in his comedies. In the Twelfth Night, it seems to be quite ironic. Feste dresses as a wise man. He is trying to be comedic, even though he is a wise man. He reveals his true nature without many knowing. It was a great value added by Shakespeare; he showed the audience a glimpse of Feste’s true nature. Disguise is a key element in the Twelfth Night. The main disguise would be Viola dressing as Cesario.
Shakespeare uses the idea of disguise in many of his plays. It is used as an escape from the characters’ personalities and sometimes for comic effect. In As You Like it, the disguise becomes very comical as in the time it was written only men could act on stage. This could lead to much confusion and comedy in the roles of those in disguise. Disguise can give the freedom to a character to act how they like and a chance for them to show their views. It was in the 16th Century that there became an increased sense of self consciousness and identity. This led to people creating an image for themselves. If one can create a self, they can create many different versions of themselves each showing a different aspect of that person. This links in
access to worlds that might otherwise be denied; for the Duke, he can now "haunt
Viola sacrificed who she was and expressing her love to Orsino so that she could create her voice in the world and be accepted in a dominate male society. Act one, scene two, lines 53 and 54, Viola says, “Conceal me what I am, and be my aid for such disguise as haply shall become.” She portrays her courage when she decides to disguise herself as a young man. She does not have to mask her inner bravery while dressed as a man, because it’s acceptable for a male to be openly courageous constantly, while Desdemona showed moments of her strength which I will discuss. Viola becomes “Cesario” and Olivia becomes infatuated with him because he is unlike any other man she has encountered. Act one, scene five, lines 296-298, Olivia speaks to herself after Cesario has exited, “Methinks I feel this youth’s perfections with an invisible and subtle stealth to creep in at mine eyes. Well, let it be.” Cesario acts as a close female friend would, because he is actually a female. He listens, cares, and makes Olivia a priority. I believe that this is Shakespeare’s way of convincing or proving to 1600’s men in the audience that if they show compassion and understanding toward women, young ladies will fall in love with them easier.
Two of Shakespeare’s works, The Merchant of Venice and Twelfth Night, both have a parallel plot structure which involves a woman disguising herself as a man in order to accomplish some goal. In the former, Portia disguises herself as a lawyer so as to enter the Duke’s court and help her husband’s friend, Antonio, avoid having a pound of his flesh cut off. In the latter, Viola disguises herself as Cesario so she can enter Duke Orsino’s court and work as a page. This parallel structure is further strengthened by the fact that in both plays, the woman in disguise has to perform some task that (during Shakespeare’s time) was usually performed by a man. Portia has to defend her husband’s friend, Antonio, in court, while Viola has to engage in a sword fight with Sir Andrew. Despite the many similarities, there is a subtle difference: Portia seems much more confident in her role as a man when compared to Viola. We see when Portia is effective and confident as a lawyer but Viola is reluctant to spar with Sir Andrew in a sword fight, and also when she is weary that the Fool has caught on to her disguise. This difference reflects the theme of challenging prejudice in The Merchant of Venice, and also reflect the theme of highlighting gender difference in Twelfth Night, which reveals a lot about both plays as a whole.
The concept of disguise has been known and used since the beginnings of drama, but this concept was most famously known for being used in plays written by the biggest playwrights of the Elizabethan era— especially for being used in William Shakespeare’s plays. What do we mean by disguise? In broad terms, it would mean pretending to be something that one is not. The concept of disguise can mean changing behavior, or hiding intentions, the most frequent form of disguise is the change of ones personal appearance, usually through the changing of clothes, to mask ones true self. Shakespeare used disguises in various ways in his plays; As You Like It, Measure for Measure, The Merchant of Venice, and Twelfth Night were all plays in which Shakespeare used the concept of disguise as a device to further the plot, it was sometimes even used for comic relief. Disguises can be used both maliciously and/ or morally, depending on its use and its influence on the characters. In both Merchant of Venice and Measure for Measure, both Portia and Duke Vincentio donned a disguise to pursue justice how they saw morally fit, but ultimately their deception was only for selfish gain; Portia disguises herself to save a friend, and Vincentio disguises himself to know the true feelings of his subjects, both manipulate the law in the name of justice while in their disguises.
In Shakespeare’s King Lear appearances are not always reflective of reality. While in many scenes throughout the play characters are disguised, their identities concealed behind a physical shroud, the theme of appearances versus reality runs much deeper, making the lines between love and hate, foolishness and wisdom, and cruelty and innocence ambiguous to both the characters and the audience. As the play progresses, a veil of ignorance seems lift, elucidating the truth of each matter to the characters and to the audience.