Twelfth Night

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...

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