English / Portrayal Of Women In Twelfth Night

Portrayal Of Women In Twelfth Night

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Autor:  anton  07 March 2011
Tags:  Portrayal,  Twelfth
Words: 830   |   Pages: 4
Views: 512

The Portrayal of Women in Twelfth Night

The women in Shakespear’s play: Twelfth Night, are all depicted as having power, comedic and being very emotional.

All of the female characters are given power, whether it be over each other, men or their servants. The woman with the power over the greatest number of people is Olivia, she has numerous servants and doesn’t hesitate to give them orders, which can be seen in (1.5.287) when she orders Malvolio to “run after that peevish messenger” and in (3.1.92-94) when she says: “let the garden door be shut and leave me to my hearing”. The second female character with power obtains it in a very different way. Maria is Olivia’s servant and must obey Olivia, but since she has been around Olivia so much she can mimic her handwriting. In (2.3.150-152) Maria exclaims: “I can write very like my Lady your niece; on a forgotten matter we can hardly make distinction of our hands” later on she explains her plans and Sir Toby announces in (2.3.155-157) : “He shall think, by the letters you drop, that they come from ne niece, and that she’s in love with him.” .The third woman in Twelfth Night with power is Viola, she gains power after masquerading as Cesario and gaining the trust of Duke Orsino. Her power is clearly demonstrated in (5.1.62) when Viola uses her influence over Orsino to save Antonio’s life by saying: “[Antonio] did me kindness, sir, drew on my side;” Because of this statement Antonio is spared. Shakespear’s giving of power to women is seen as a mockery based on the beliefs of his time, since women were never meant to duel or act as guards and messengers, in short he uses the women’s power to make them look preposterous.

The women in Twelfth Night are used to add comic relief by having some of the comedy caused by them and some directed at them. Maria is one such character. Shakespear uses her and the character Sir Andrew to make numerous plays on words, for example in (1.3.49-54) Sir Andrew mistakes the meaning of the word accost and ends up thinking that Maria’s name is accost which results in him saying: “Good mistress Accost, I desire better acquaintance” Maria then replies “My name is Mary Sir.” and Sir Andrew then believes her name to be “Good mistress Mary Accost”. Sir Toby finally has to point out that “‘accost’ is front her, board her, woo her, assail her” all in all this makes a very confusing scene. The other two women (Viola and Olivia) are used to add comedy through mistaken identities, since Olivia believes Viola to be a man and falls in love with her. In (2.2.20-21) Viola discovers that Olivia is in love with her and exclaims: “For she did speak in starts distractedly. She loves me, sure; the cunning of her passion”. While there are a great deal of comedic scenes there are also those with great sentiment in them.

Shakespear portrays the women as fragile, with the way they act, and the way others act towards them, Viola is seen as a very emotional woman, who is in mourning for the death of her brother in (1.2.4) “My brother he is in Elysium”, but at the same time falls in love with duke Orsino as shown in (5.1.130-131) when she says: “After him I love/More than I love these eyes, more than my life,”. While Viola is in love with Orsino, Olivia falls in love with Viola who, while masquerading as a man is charged with delivering massages of love to Olivia. Olivia’s love becomes obvious when in (2.2.21) Olivia, desperate to spend more time with Cesario/Viola sends Malvolio to return a ring to Cesario/Viola which had never been his/hers to begin with. Viola quickly realizes: “[Olivia] loves me, sure;”. While these two women have experiences with love Maria is seen as more of a humorous character. She uses her handwriting, which is almost that of Olivia’s, to write a false letter of love to Malvolio who follows the letter exactly and ends up wearing yellow, cross gartered stockings (both fashions are loathed by Olivia). Maria’s plot is unveiled when she talks to Sir Toby and Sir Andrew and says: “I will drop in his way some obscure epistles of love,”. The message contained in the letters is later revealed in (3.2.64-65) when Maria bursts into the room with Fabian, Sir Andrew and Sir Toby to declare: “He’s in yellow stockings”. The women in Twelfth Night are quite emotional, seeking love and revenge constantly, it is a trait that makes the play all the more interesting and at some points funny.

Female characters in Twelfth Night are portrayed in a variety of different ways, while Maria is comedic and prankster-like, Olivia is grief-stricken for all but the last scene of the play. However, all the women have things in common for example, their power over others and their vast array of emotions.



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