Reflect on your previous experience with Shakespeare. How does Twelfth Night compare to
the plays or poetry you’ve read before?
Most of Shakespeare’s work contains related themes. Some of the common themes in the
work include love, conflict, hatred, suffering, and transformation (Shakespeare, Romeo, and
Juliet from The Folger Shakespeare). One of Shakespeare’s works I have read and has a great
connection with “Twelfth Night” is “As you like it.” Both plays involve cross-dressing with the
inclusion of same-sex romance. For instance, in Twelfth Night, Olivia and Viola share gender
and romantic relationships. Their language rejected male lovers. In the play ‘As you like it,’
Orlando engaged in a romantic relationship with fellow men.
Choose one character to analyze closely. How does that character perform multiple
identities or react to others’ identity performances? What themes does this character bring
to the table?
Sir Toby Blech. He is Olivia’s uncle and is one of the comic characters in the play. He
drinks and overeats but loves good pranks; for instance, he harasses Malvolio, a serious minded-
individual (Shakespeare, Romeo, and Juliet from The Folger Shakespeare). Despite being a
knight, Sir Toby portrays a fraudulent character. He keeps Sir Andrew Aguecheek spending his
funds to continue drinking. He is also guilty of exploiting Olivia’s house and mistreating his
servants. Sir Toby’s identity opposes Sir Andrew’s. Unlike Sir Andrew, who’s is witty and
sharp. He is foolish and cannot realize that he has been deceived.
To some extent, every text we’ll read this semester explores the psychological and social
richness of how we construct our own identities, as well as how identities are “thrust upon
us.” Explore how this concept plays out in Twelfth Night, as well as in earlier texts we’ve
read this semester.
In the play, Maria characterizes Malvolio as a puritan; because of the black, puritanical
costumes. Maria forged a letter, ‘from Olivia’ declaring her love for Malvolio. She suggested
Malvolio’s clothes (Shakespeare, Romeo, and Juliet from The Folger Shakespeare). Maria aimed
to turn Malvolio away from Olivia because she hated the clothes suggested for Malvolio. Maria
led to Malvolio’s identity in such a situation, which Olivia unaccepted. The latter told Malvolio
to smile often, but Olivia hated people being happy around her because she was still mourning.
Malvolio’s identity was triggered by a fake letter, but it cost him much; Olivia hated the
transformation suggested in the letter, but he trusted himself and believed that he was doing the
right thing to impress Olivia and portray his love for her.
Poetic justice has been a chief qualifier of “good” literature throughout much of literary
history. Does Twelfth Night’s ending constitute poetic justice? Does this matter to you?
Shakespeare’s work “Twelfth Night” observes the poetic justice in that some flawed
characters receive rewards at the end. For instance, with some immoralities of drinking and
conning, Sir Toby is rewarded by being a good guy in the play at the end (Shakespeare, Romeo,
and Juliet from The Folger Shakespeare). Despite squandering Sir Aguecheek’s cash in the name
of marrying him off with her niece Olive, Sir Toby did not block their desire for romantic union.
When Sir Toby was introduced in the play, he portrayed questionable moral traits but became the
audience’s refreshing breeze. He became a good comic actor with vitality and contagious
merriment. In addition, the audience builds sympathy for Sir Toby after angry Sebastian slaps
him on the wrist.
To some extent, the readers may feel that he deserved the slap, but the play would have
been dull without Sir Toby. The appreciation given to Sir Toby for his comic nature shows the
observation of poetic justice in the Twelfth Night play. In the end, Sir Toby married Maria and
joined Viola and Orsino plus Sebastian and Olivia in the wedding, a happy ending. Poetic justice
matter a lot; it identifies good literature. A play characterized by poetic justice is interesting.
Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet from The Folger Shakespeare. Ed. Barbara Mowat,
Paul Werstine, Michael Poston, and Rebecca Niles. Folger Shakespeare Library,
February 4, 2022. https://shakespeare.folger.edu/shakespeares-works/romeo-and-juliet/