Essay on Use of Disguise in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

Almost the first thing that comes to our mind when we think of a night essay is ‘Twelfth Night’ by Shakespeare, and undoubtedly, the most interesting aspect of this play is the incredible use of disguise. The play in itself is a comedy and the disguise is instrumental in making the plot comical, interesting and fascinating. The disguise and changing of genders results in a number of humorous situations and causes many misunderstandings between characters and even leads to love.

The main cause for all the confusion is Viola, who disguises as a man when her ship sinks, and approaches the Duke of Illyria, Orsino, to get closer to him and maybe even woo and win his love. However, the irony is when Orsino asks Viola, now disguised as a man, to approach his lady love, Olivia and woo her on his behalf. The comical situation that arises when Olivia falls in love with Viola thinking that she is a man is both absorbing and amusing. However, all is not lost for Olivia because Viola’s twin brother Sebastian is alive and all is well

when Olivia and Sebastian are ready to be married. Similarly, the other couple, Orsino and Viola also agrees to marry each other towards the end of the play. The other important character in the play is Sir Toby Belch, a merry character and Olivia’s uncle, who also is the cause of much confusion and jest in the play.

The case of mistaken identity and disguise form the crux of the play. Shakespeare has often used disguise as a means to make his plots interesting and fascinating. Of course, one point to keep in mind is that in Shakespearean days, only men were allowed to participate in plays and therefore they played the parts of both sexes.

The plot, characters, settings, comedy, imagery etc., are so beautiful in ‘Twelfth Night’ that one could choose any one aspect of the essay to elaborate, analyze and evaluate and still write anywhere between 250 word and 1000 word essays.  At times, topics are also chosen from the play and the student is asked to present an argumentation essay while drawing parallels to the essay and present day modern circumstances. For instance, the reason why Viola chose to disguise herself as a man was to be able to secure employment with the Duke and to be able to protect herself in a male dominated society. A likely question from this situation would be how the student compares the situation a few centuries ago to the situation that women face in a male dominated society in modern days.