Essay on Different Forms of Disguise and Deception in Twelfth Night

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Different Forms of Disguise and Deception in Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night is said to be Shakespeare's most complete comedy. As in most comedies, Twelfth Night celebrates different forms of disguise and deception in order to make the play more entertaining. ”There's something in it that is deceivable”(ActIV, ScIII), indeed the crux of the play is based on disguise and deception. The most significant deception would definitely be Viola’s disguise as Orsino’s page, Cesario, which makes the story remarkably intriguing. In addition to Viola’s disguise, the deceptions of some characters further intensify the amusement of the play. The different forms of disguise and deception paradoxically throughout the
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The disguise is necessary to develop the storyline involving Sebastian and the confusion with his return as well.

Apart from the complication of mistaken identity, Viola’s disguise would have had great comical effect on stage. No women were allowed to act on stage in the Elizabethan times, therefore Viola would have been acted by a male actor pretending to be a woman, who was pretending to be a man. Shakespeare made full advantage of the comic effect and caused great hilarity among the audience.

There are other characters that are in disguise. The tricking of Malvolio is in a form of self-deception, he puts on both mental and physical disguise because of a deception that was created by the other characters. Maria plays a practical joke on Malvolio’s vanity, saying that Olivia is in love with him and asks him to obey “every points of the letter”, thus Malvolio does wear cross gartered yellow stockings and does smile all the time. Since Olivia does not know anything about the joke, she sees him as a mad man and asks him to leave. Poor Malvolio, he does not know he is being tricked and even take Olivia’s words as an encouragement, “Wilt thou go to bed, Malvolio.” The eventual outcome is tragic for Malvolio, but it is hilarious for the audience.

Another example of disguise and deception in the play is Feste. On one hand, Feste dresses up as Sir Topas to make

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