William Shakespeare 's Twelfth Night

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Shakespeare wrote the romantic comedy play, Twelfth Night, in the year 1601. Despite being over 400 years old, people have been studying and performing the play continuously. Even though some may argue American audience now cannot understand the significance of social hierarchy in the play nor the lines written in Shakespearean English, Twelfth Night remains popular today as shown by New York Times’ publishing of seven reviews on different performances of Twelfth Night. At the same time, Shakespeare utilizes dramatic irony, created by Viola dressed as Cesario, and reversal of social hierarchy, created by the love struck Duke and Countess, the drunk knights Sir Andrew and Toby, and the brilliant maid Maria. This essay aims to analyze comedic elements in Twelfth Night, as well as explaining why it remains popular until this day. We will compare the original and several modern productions of the play that New York Times reviewers feature in the newspapers while integrating ideas from excerpts of William Zinsser’s book On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction and Henry Bergson’s Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic. One scene of the play that all the reviews from New York Times mention is Maria’s tricking Malvolio into thinking that Olivia has fallen in love with him. Although the productions different from one another, the reviews show how much this scene has left an impression in the audience. In March of 2009, Charles Isherwood, a famous theater

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