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Exploring Comedy In The Last Act Of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

1197 words - 5 pages

The last act of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is where the play brings all the subplots together and the play comes to a “resolution”, a typical convention in Shakespearian comedies usually signified by a wedding, in this case there are two marriages, one between Viola and Orsino and one between Olivia and Sebastien.
One of the comedic aspects of the final act of the play is the ever present theme of false appearances and how that creates confusion and ambiguity amongst the characters but the audience as well. In the last scene, it is used by Shakespeare to bring the characters the together and it is very ironic that the source of confusion in the first place is the very thing that ends the ...view middle of the document...

However, this homosexuality is not presented as being unusual or scandalous, the characters don’t dwell on the issue too much. This means that when Orsino proposes to Viola, it is much more natural because he has already given up on Olivia and there are no hindrances to their marriage. To conclude, the final act is comedic because the use of false appearance influences Orsino’s newly found homosexual feelings and it exposes his sporadic and fickle attitude towards love.
Furthermore, another comedic aspect of the final act of Twelfth Night is the conclusion to the gulling of Malvolio and the way in which in unfolds. Malvolio is confused and pleads with Olivia to explain why she has made him do all the things he has done, despite the fact that it is not Olivia who wrote the letter. He asks “Why have you suffered me to be imprisoned, kept in a dark house, visited by the priest and made the most notorious geck and gull that e’er invention played on?” This is comedic because Malvolio is talking to Olivia as if she is well informed about what he has had to go through. This would have been especially funny when acted on stage, because Olivia would be quizzical about what Malvolio is talking about, and since the fact that the audience are more informed about what has really gone on, the unravelling of the truth in Malvolio’s gulling would be presented as being one of the most comedic moments in the entire play. Shakespeare would have done this to create a sense of surrounding embarrassment towards the character of Malvolio, the audience would be laughing and characters on stage would be directing their laughs towards Malvolio as well, which is meant to summarise the mocking of Malvolio’s Puritan character and beliefs. Shakespeare would have wanted this to be a key plot in the play, which it is, because Puritan’s were opposed to any aspect of fun, which included theatre and therefore, Shakespeare expresses his opposition to them through the gulling of Malvolio. This relates to Morreall’s concept of critical thinking, and how Shakespeare mocks the only Puritan character in the play, in doing so questioning its place in society. In conclusion, the gulling of Malvolio is comedic because most characters and the audience are better informed than Malvolio with regards to his gulling, and his realisation that he has been gulled is comedic because of his reaction...

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