Twelfth Night

Setting

Illyria, the setting of Twelfth Night, is important to the play's romantic atmosphere. Illyria was an ancient region of the Western Balkans whose coast (the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea which is the only part of ancient Illyria which is relevant to the play) covered (from north to south) the coasts of modern day Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania. It included the city state of the Republic of Ragusa which has been proposed as the setting.[3] Illyria may have been suggested by the Roman comedy Menaechmi, the plot of which also involves twins who are mistaken for each other. Illyria is also referred to as a site of pirates in Shakespeare's earlier play, Henry VI, Part 2. The names of most of the characters are Italian but some of the comic characters have English names. Oddly the "Illyrian" lady Olivia has an English uncle, Sir Toby Belch. It has been noted that the play's setting also has other English allusions such as Viola's use of "Westward ho!", a typical cry of 16th-century London boatmen, and also Antonio's recommendation to Sebastian of "The Elephant" as where it is best to lodge in Illyria; The Elephant was a pub not far from the Globe Theatre.[4]


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