It’s a brilliant romantic-comic-tragic play, by the greatest play-writer in literature, William Shakespeare. It was his last of comedies. The play is about role-playing, crisscrossing gender roles, breaking gender norms and a lot of confusion.
The profundity of every line, Feste, the jester’s, dialogues and Shakespeare’s connoisseur writing skills just adds beauty to the whole play. Shakespeare has brilliantly used the “Fool” of the play, to show mirror to the society of the realities and has given him full agency to connect with the middle-class audience of that time, reflecting the harsh treatment that was used towards the “not-so-rich” people.
“Twelfth Night” literally means the night of January 6, a night of revelry and misrule. The play opens up with Viola getting shipwrecked and losing her twin brother Sebastian. Simultaneously, we see Orsino, a pining lover of Olivia, the countess, desiring for her love. Olivia has forbidden any men to come to her and ask for marriage, as she too has recently suffered a loss of her father and brother, so, she demands no presence of men anymore. Viola takes up the role of the eunuch and starts working in Orsino’s court as a page boy, but under those male clothes, her feminine heat falls for Orsino.
But, for the sake of Orsino’s love for Olivia, Viola goes to Olivia to convey Orsino’s love message to Olivia and Olivia falls for the male Viola that is Cesario. The role-plays create chaos until Viola’s real brother Sebastian arrives, marrying Olivia and restore the society’s structure.
The role of Feste, the fool is very important and it is seen that he is the only one wise and intellectual than the other characters, who become utterly foolish in love. Other comic characters include- Sir Toby (Olivia’s Uncle), Sir Andrew, Maria (housemaid) and Malvolia (a servant).
Malvolia depicts the higher ambitions of low-class people, who are not treated justifiably by the upper-class people.
The play is very complicated as, it operates on different levels and point of views. But, of course, is a beautiful piece by Shakespeare and deals with a very bold and sensitive issue of gender-roles, beneath it’s surface.
Literature lovers, do get a copy of it!!
You can also watch the play at-