Friday, July 08, 2016

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night. William Shakespeare. 1601. 220 pages. [Source: Library]

Twelfth Night is not in my top three list of plays by Shakespeare. But I often forget that I do really enjoy it all the same. For one thing, it is a comedy. And I just love how this one opens. I must admit that the line, "If music be the food of love, play on" is a great, great line.

So. Essentially this one is about a shipwreck and the romantic misunderstanding that arise from that shipwreck. Sebastian and Viola are twins. Each think the other perished in the wreck. Viola, with a little help from a sea captain, decides to "become" a man and seek employment with Orsino the Duke of Ilyria. Her new name is Cesario. Sebastian is rescued by a man named Antonio, who also happens to be a sea captain, but not the same that rescued Viola. These two will not realize that the other is alive for most of the play. Olivia is the "love" of Orsino's life. The problem? Olivia is mourning because of her brother's recent death, and, she really can't be bothered with the Duke's attempts of wooing and courtship. Most of the characters in the play are from Olivia's household. (Also the Duke's household.) Feste, a clown, bridges the two together in a way. He's in scenes at both houses. (He may just be my favorite character from this play).

So what is the misunderstanding? Well, Olivia falls madly, deeply in love with Cesario at first sight. Cesario is the Duke's messenger. Viola herself falls head over heels in love with the Duke. It seems love will make a fool of all three since there can be no happy ending as matters stand. There are further misunderstandings, but, this is the big one.

One of the comic elements of this play involves a practical joke of sorts in Olivia's household. Malvolio, her steward, is led to believe that Olivia is madly in love with him. He believes this easily, and, soon becomes a very, big fool all in the name of love.

I think I appreciate this one more having seen it performed when I was in college.

Favorite lines:
Anything that's mended is but patched. Virtue that transgresses is but patched with sin, and sin that amends is but patched with virtue. ~ Feste, Act I, scene V
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon'em. ~ Malvolio reading a letter "from Olivia" Act II, scene V
Love sought is good, but given unsought is better. ~ Olivia to Cesario, Act III, scene I

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

Joy Weese Moll said...

We're watching the film A Midsummer Night's Dream where Olivia de Haviland played Hermia (to celebrate de Haviland's recent 100th birthday). Shakespeare's comedies are so fun! It's amazing how well the humor holds up 400 years later.