The Function of Plot Divisions in Twelfth Night and in Doctor Faustus
In both plays, Twelfth Night and Doctor Faustus, there exists a high and a low (or comic) plot. This plot division serves as a parallel - the actions and characters in the low plot coincide with the actions and characters in the high plot. The presence of the mirroring primary and secondary plots in the plays serves to advance the theme of the stories.
In Twelfth Night the primary, or "high" plot is the action between Olivia, Viola/ "Cesario", Orsino, and eventually Sebastian and Antonio. The audience is reminded that the theme of the play is "mistaken identity". We see it first in the high plot as Viola disguises herself as a man in order to become Orsino's young page, "Cesario". Feste, the clown in Olivia's court allows for some comic relief, but also ironically mirrors the primary plot's theme of disguised identity in act I, scene V, when Olivia orders him to be taken away after being unexplainably gone for a while. The clown quotes a Latin proverb, "The hood doesn't make the monk," that is, "Clothes don't make the man."
In Act two of Twelfth Night, mistaken identity (that of Viola/Cesario) is mirrored in the secondary plot when Malvolio is the...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 753 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 4770 literature essays, 1493 sample college application essays, 189 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in