Twelfth Night

Deception, Delusion and the Danger of Half-Perceived Truths

It has often been said that "the clothes make the man." It could never seem truer than in Twelfth Night where disguises and mistaken identities run the gamut of use. The identity of people, things and ideas are swept away under the facade of something more convenient for the given time or occasion. Viola's disguise, Maria's ploy, Feste's folly and even love fall beneath a mask at the time which most perfectly complicates things nearly beyond salvation. The entanglements raise questions of the nature of reality that only Shakespeare himself can answer.

The play begins with Viola discussing the plausibility and necessity of assuming a disguise during her time in Illyria. To her captain she says, "... Conceal me what I am, and be my aid / For such disguise as haply shall become the form of my intent," thus instructing him in her plan to disguise herself. She goes on to say that she shall assume the form of an eunuch, and it is revealed much later in the play that it is actually the guise of her twin brother, Sebastian, at this early point assumed dead, that she chooses. This introduces from the very beginning the importance of disguises and misleading - right alongside the difficult there is in...

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