Twelfth Night

disguise and change of clothing are common in the Twelfth Night. Which characters in the play spends time in disguise? how is disguise important in creating mistaken identifies? who is mistaken for whom, and what do these mixups signify?

Twelfth night

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Viola disguises herself as a man.

Malvolio disguises himself in order to win Olivia's heart.

Festes dresses as a priest, and disguises himself as Sir Topas.

In Viola's case, disguise is necessary in order to stay safe, as she is a young gorl on her own. She is, thus mistaken for her brother. Later, we see Sebastian (her brother) mistaken for Viola as Cesario.

Festes and Malvolio, on the other hand, assume different identities to impersonate cross class/ social constructs. This in itself puts certain assumed divides into question..... you can be someone else by merely changing your clothing, meaning social status is not a given.

Shakespeare uses the theme of mistaken identity for numerous reasons...... humor, enlightenment, and confusion,


Twelfth Night