The Twelfth Night by Shmoop

The Twelfth Night by Shmoop


Twelfth Night, a la Shmoop.
Shakespeare’s England. A land where you could lose your head for
breaking rules or for making a bad cup of tea. So just how did Shakespeare write a daring
play like Twelfth Night and… keep his head? Did theatre give him a license to break the
rules for a laugh? Or do his portraits just have some killer
Photoshopping? Let’s review Shakespeare’s rule-breaking
antics. Rule number one: You must dress according to your gender and
class. Right off the bat, Shakespeare blatantly disregards
this with some cross-dressing, disguising Viola as Cesario. And to make it even more gender-bending,
In Shakespeare’s day Cesario would have been a male actor playing a woman playing
a man. Not to mention the stodgy Puritan Malvolio
dressing in yellow stockings. Which is never okay. Unless you’re Big Bird.
Rule number two: Women must obey. Well, we already know Viola is a rule-breaker.
She dresses as a man right to the end of the play. Although Shakespeare does explain: there are
no spare dresses in Illyria. Anywhere. And how about Olivia? If she were a good woman,
she would not deny Duke Orsino marrying her. Rule number three: You must not move classes. No, this doesn’t mean skipping gym for art
class. It means that it is way out of line for
Olivia’s servant Malvolio and the penniless Sir Andrew Aguecheek to both try to marry
the wealthy Olivia. Rule number four: You must be a heterosexual. Well, Olivia loves Viola. Orsino loves Cesario, who is really Viola
dressed as a man. Still. And Antonio’s love for Sebastian seems a
little more than friendly. But hey, what happens at sea stays at sea. Yes, Shakespeare tosses around some pretty
racy notions for 1602. Well, there you have it. Four rules, all broken. But of course, he does restore order to the
court in the end, leaving us with class and gender appropriate couples, at least according
to the rules of the time. Because who could survive in a world with
strong women, upward mobility, or, heaven forbid, no dress code?

7 Comments

  1. . says:

    I feel as if this is more about Shakespeare and less about 12th Night.

  2. Lilac Rose says:

    If no one questioned these laws they still would be in effect, and think about how bad that would be. Imagine if these laws were still in effect. That would be horrible.

  3. HankReardenFan101 says:

    I feel sorry for both Malvolio and Shylock.

  4. HankReardenFan101 says:

    Why did only Malvolio get punished for his ambition?

  5. Mahir Chowdhury says:

    Haha, your videos are educating as well as hilarious.

  6. Ana Santiago says:

    Good points!

  7. Young Man says:

    Low key cringy

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