Sixth Blogpost, Or What You Will
Throughout William Shakespeare's novel Twelfth Night Or, What You Will the theme of disguising one's identity is interweaved with the complexities of love. The twisted love triangle of Olivia, Duke, Viola, and Cesario is evermore complicated since Olivia and Duke aren't aware that Viola is shielding her true identity and is impersonating being a male, Cesario. This dynamic and the complexity of the love triangle causes each character suffering in the novel.
This romantic comedy by Shakespeare highlights the complexities of love utilizing disguise. Duke suffers from love from his one-sided affection for Olivia, Olivia is drawn to Cesario who is uninterested, and Viola is in love with Duke yet is pretending to be a male. However, it is Cesario/Viola whose courageousness, for restarting a life all on her own in the new land of Illyria, and her strong-willed personality that makes the reader believe that Viola's love for Duke pure. Viola, acting as Cesario, was willing to do whatever Duke wanted such as wooing Olivia, just to make him happy. Since Cesario and Duke had a deep bond based on trust and depth, their love triumphs the other characters lust. In the beginning of the novel, both Olivia and Duke were similar in manner. They were both overemotional and theatric. Duke was lovesick about the idea of Olivia and Olivia was devastated by her brother's death. The irony is that the one who was disguised, Cesario/Viola, is the character that forced both Olivia and Duke out of their melodramatic manners. Since this was a comedic play, the ending was happy in that the majority of the characters found love and marriage in the end of the novel.
I found that relating this theme into my service at Tunbridge Public Charter School quite challenging. The first-graders I work with haven't yet developed their hormones that affect one's behavior and decisions. I would be quite shocked if I had walked into the classroom and seen a first-grader with a similar love-sick demeanor as Duke had in the beginning of the novel. However, one way the kids in the classroom relate to Twelfth Night is their desire for fulfilling companionship and relationships with their friends and family. When discussing what we were thankful for, in preparation of Thanksgiving, most of the students mentioned being thankful for their best friend or more commonly, being thankful for one of their parents. This gratitude for such a relationship is also present in Shakespeare's novel. In the happy ending, the characters are all grateful for their loved ones and they celebrate life and liberty (with the minor exception of Malvolio).
I found this class very worthwhile and I would recommend this class (if it wasn't already a university requirement). I went into this class slightly dragging my feet because I was picturing tedious novels in which I would spend hours deciphering, however, I couldn't have been more wrong. The poems, short stories, and novels were interesting and thought-provoking with relevant topics such as image, freedom, liberty, and humanity that related to my coursework in other classes. Most importantly, this Understanding Literature class helped develop my analytical skills which I believe to be one of the most important skill sets to have both in college and in the post-graduation world.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
20 November 2013
In the play Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare, the complications of love through an entangled love triangle, deceit, and disguise reign superior in the character’s lives. One of the main characters, Viola, disguises herself as a man, works for and falls in love with Duke Orsino, who is in love with Olivia. Undenying passion of love can look past any disguise and overcome any obstacle that comes in its path. Through the challenges presented in Twelfth Night, romantic love becomes eminent and unavoidable.
True love cannot be forced; rather it is a result of an instant connection. Viola found herself alone, and in need of a fresh start. She disguised herself as a man in order to work for Duke Orsino. While working for him, she fell madly in love with him, despite the fact that he loved another woman. After Orsino instructed Viola to woo Oliva, she exclaimed, “I’ll do my best to woo your lady: [Aside] yet, a barful strife! Whoe’er I woo, myself would be his wife” (Shakespeare 9). Not only does Viola find herself challenged by her hidden identity, but she is forced to woo another woman for the man she loves. This obstacle emphasizes how deep and pure Viola’s love for Orsino is. She is willing to put her needs and wants aside in order to make him happy. Although it would be easy for Viola to set her feelings aside, romantic love is ever-present and unavoidable.
Love that is planned cannot surpass love based on instinct. In the beginning of the play, Duke Orsino was convinced he loved Olivia. His love for her was purely based on his selfish need for a lover. He had a strong, emotion-filled connection with Viola (Cesario) based on trust. When faced with the rejection his love for Olivia diminished; but when he found out about Viola’s disguise his love was prevalent. After his discovery, Orsino professed, “…Here is my hand: you shall from this time be your master’s mistress” (69). Orsino’s forced love for Olivia could not prevail when faced with a challenged. His romantic love for Viola stood the test of disguise and deceit. Regardless of obstacles true love reigned victorious.
Thinking back on a lecture I attended by David Yezzi last Thursday, I cannot help but see the same theme of love conquering challenges. Although it is not as dramatic as described in Shakespeare’s play, Yezzi’s writing career was nothing simply handed to him. In order to become director, editor, and successful writer he had to overcome several obstacles in order to achieve his dreams and continue doing what he truly loved. As he spoke in font of the large audience, I could not help but see the passion eminent in his eyes. It made me think that no matter how hard things may seem, as long as I am doing what I truly love, it will all be worth it in the end.
Furthermore, this type of self-reflection and realization exhibited from both the play and lecture has been a common reaction of mine throughout the semester. Through both iExamens, and plays read such as “I Walk as lonely as a Cloud,” I have realized the importance of appreciating the simple aspects of every day life that I habitually take for granted each day. I was surprised by how simple it is to take a step back and just appreciate the beauty of nature and those that surround me every day.
In conclusion, challenges are a normal occurrence in life but when faced by pure love and passion they can be overcome. The love triangle in Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night, sorted itself out based on pure feelings. Yezzi is a successful figure known across the country for his literature despite the obstacles along his way. Lastly, I have found love and joy for the simple things in life even though challenged by my once unappreciative mindset.
Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night. London: Methuen, 1975. Print.
True or False Love
In William Shakespeare’s Twelfth night, the common theme of love is expressed in a multitude of different ways through the main characters. The love of the Duke, Olivia and Viola will be focused on even though Shakespeare has many characters fall in love in this play. Though the love the three characters have are very different from one another. The Duke’s love for Olivia is the shallowest. He sends his servants to profess his love for Olivia instead of visiting her himself. He just sits around all day and thinks about her. Olivia’s love is more genuine but still not completely true because he falls in love with a woman who is actually a man. Olivia loves Viola who is disguised as Cesario. The last and most genuine form is Viola’s love for the Duke. She loves him but still travels to Olivia’s house to confess the Duke’s love for her. She is truly loyal to the Duke. Shakespeare’s theme of love draws distinctions between what is true love and what is not.
The first character to express love in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is Duke Orsino. His love for Olivia is one of the first words we hear out of the Duke. He is talking to Curio when he says, “O, when mine eyes did see Olivia first, methought she purged the air of pestilence.” He is saying that Olivia rids the air of disease because of how beautiful she is. It is a very strong statement to make for a person that the Duke barely sees. We find out that the Duke sends people to express his love for Olivia. This is why the Duke’s love for Olivia is the least genuine love. If the Duke really loved Olivia, he would be at her door wanting to see her face and be in her presence. He prefers to sit on rose petals and listen to music while thinking about her. He also faces a challenge in regards to his love for Olivia. Olivia’s brother just died and she has vowed not to love anyone else for seven years. This does not discourage the Duke; it makes him love her more. So this raises the question of does the Duke only want what he cannot have. I believe so. His behavior does not follow traditional love because he never sees her; he consistently gets rejected and is told she will not love anyone for seven years, which makes him even more in love with her.
The next person to fall in love is Olivia who falls in love with Cesario. This love is slightly more genuine than the love the Duke has for Olivia but still Olivia’s love for Cesario is not genuine love. First of all, Olivia is love with a woman who is disguised as a man. Cesario is actually a female named Viola who is dressed up and is working for the Duke. The first time Olivia meets Cesario is when Cesario is sent to Olivia’s house to proclaim the Duke’s love for Olivia. Olivia falls in love with Cesario because of the way he eloquently describes what he would do if he were in love. The ironic part of this scene is that Cesario or Viola is actually describing the love she feels for the Duke and it is these very feelings that lead Olivia to fall in love with Cesario. Cesario says, “Make me a willow cabin at your gate, and call upon my soul within the house; write loyal cantons of contemned love and sing them loud even in the dead of night.” Olivia feels Cesario’s deep passion and mistakenly falls in love with a woman. If you fall in love with the disguise of someone, then you are not falling for an actual person and therefore it cannot be true love. Olivia sees Cesario and wants to be around him, which is more than the Duke does but she still does not achieve genuine love.
The last and most genuine form of love is Viola’s love for the Duke. Viola, who was saved at sea after being shipwrecked, decides to dress up as a man and work for the Duke. The Duke immediately likes Viola and sends her on special trips to profess his love for Olivia. Viola’s love is not evident until she says on an aside, “yet, a barful strife! Whoe’er I woo, myself would be his wife.” Viola professes her want to be the Duke’s wife but still goes to Olivia’s house to try and convince her to love the Duke. Viola’s loyalty to the Duke is why Viola’s love is the most genuine. She wants to make the Duke truly happy and is even willing to give up her love for him. This sacrifice Viola makes does not just happen once but happens multiple times because the Duke sends Viola on many trips to Olivia’s house. We also see this is the most genuine form of love because of the way Viola described so beautifully what she would do if she was in love. If she thinks that way about the Duke and sees him all the time, there must be true passion behind her words and thoughts.So while sitting in the daily session of mediation, I was once again faced with a conflict. I have admittedly been in, what I think was, love once. The only thing is I am not sure it was love because the way Shakespeare describes it you are supposed to be together forever. So I started thinking what form of love would fit into. I certainly was not the Duke but then again I am not sure I was on Viola’s level either. It was an interesting time of thought for me, which concluded that I landed between Olivia and Viola but leaning towards Viola more.
Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night contains many different characters that are under disguise. These characters show that one’s identity can easily be changed after physical alteration. After spending a semester attending Zen meditation, I disagree with what Shakespeare is saying about the easiness of altering one’s identity. Weeks of meditation have allowed me to become more self-aware and therefore become more accepting of myself for who I truly am. I believe that there is more to altering one’s self than merely changing physically for it is what is on the inside that is most important.
In Twelfth Night, Shakespeare suggests that by changing exterior features, it is easy to create a new persona and trick others into believing it. For example, Feste the clown gets dressed up as a priest when he goes to talk to Malvolio when he is locked up, even though it is so dark that Malvolio will not be able to see him. By getting dressed up, Shakespeare is making a point to say that it is not enough to act differently, one must also be dressed/look different. This is common throughout the book – Viola dresses up as a man in order to find a job, and Malvolio dresses in a foolish way to win the love of Olivia. Viola could have been employed by someone other than the Duke and Malvolio certainly did not have to dress in the way that he did to prove his love to Olivia. Twelfth Night makes it a point to say that physical appearances are crucial in deceiving others.
By meditating on a weekly basis, I have become more aware of myself and who I am. Because of this, I have realized how important personalities are. When I began to read Twelfth Night I was struck by the message Shakespeare says about how physical appearance is more important than personality. To me, personality is more important than appearances -- especially in situations similar to that of Twelfth Night. I think that many conflicts could have been avoided had the characters avoided physical disguises.
Attending Zen meditation caused me to strongly disagree with Shakespeare’s message about physical appearances. I believe that personality is more important than physical appearances. In this way, I believe that Feste the clown did not have to dress up when he tried to trick Malvolio; rather, he could have only disguised his voice, Malvolio could only hear him. Furthermore, Malvolio did not have to put on a costume to show his love for Olivia. It would have been more appropriate to talk to her and explain his feelings in a straightforward manner. However, I do think that Viola’s disguise was necessary in order for her to play the character of a man, for obvious reasons. Twelfth Night contains examples of both necessary and unnecessary physical disguise.
This semester, I was most surprised by how much I thoroughly enjoyed attending almost weekly events, including Zen meditation. Initially, I was worried that it would be hard for me to find enough time to go to events and that I would dread attending them. However, it turned out that I began to look forward to go to Zen meditation. It was a great way to relieve stress and relax. I am so glad to have been forced to attend meditation, as it is something that I plan on continuing to attend next semester.
November 20, 2013
Event Analysis 6
Professor Juniper Ellis
Caught Up in the Confusion
Deception is throughout Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Characters pretend to be people they are not thus creating a huge controversial love triangle. Viola, after a shipwreck has left her on Illyrian, takes on the persona of Cesario. She begins to work with Duke Orsino who she in fact falls in love with. Although Viola loves Orsino, he is in love with Olivia. Orsino sends Cesario to deliver love letters to Olivia. This ultimately is his down all because Olivia begins to fall in love Cesario and not Orsino. Also when Antonio needs help he turns to Cesario thinking he is Sebastian. When Cesario acts as if he does not know who Antonio is he thinks that Sebastian is betraying him. When Olivia pronounces her love for Cesario she is unsettled when he does not feel the same way. When the real Sebastian comes Olivia professes her love to him thinking he is Cesario which creates an even larger problem. Viola is forced to reveal her true identity which affirms Orsino’s love for her. They later will wed but due to her disguise it created a very large problem with everyone involved.
This idea of disguises I feel is closely related to Zen meditation. Zen meditation is all about finding your true self. It is all about slowing things down; taking in every little detail of life. It’s about relieving stress and finding a place where you can relax. Zen is about centering yourself and releasing everything that has a negative effect in your day to day life. It is about not having a mask or disguise. Zen is all about the person as an individual and to show your true colors.
If Viola had just shown who she truly was and not try to disguise herself a lot of the conflicts would have been avoided. Duke Orsino may have fallen in love with her to begin with. He never would have asked her to deliver the love letters to Olivia. Olivia never would have fallen in love with Cesario. Antonio would not have felt betrayed if Cesario did not act in the he did. Not being who you truly are created a large conflict in this story. It drew people away from each other as well as made people fall in love with people who are not who they say they are.
Overall I have enjoyed this course. It has not only helped with my ability to read poems and short stories and grasp the concepts within the story/poem. It has taught me to look past the surface of something. Every situation, person, object and action all have a deeper meaning. Nothing is necessarily as it seems. It has also made me look at themes through the structure of the poems and stories. I have a greater appreciation of the little things in life because this class had taught me to slow down and take in the minor fluctuations in a day. This class had a huge impact on me and I have grown to understand myself through each of the events as well as the poems and stories we read. I had a great time in this course and am not looking forward to the conclusion of this course.
What is love? Oh baby, don't hurt me no more!
In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, we read about a love story that consists of about half a dozen people. This complex love triangle reminds us of the different aspects of love, and those consequences, but it also shows us what love is. Duke Orsino is in love with Lady Olivia, but so are about 3 other men by the end of the story, and Lady Olivia has fallen for Cesario, who is really Viola, who loves Duke Orsino. Though, this play does have a happy ending, it does not fail to show the faults of love.
Throughout Twelfth Night, we witness love from the eyes of a few characters. Duke Orsino begins the play with a speech that describes the consequences of love, filled with emotions for desire, and the pain of rejection. This foreshadows the theme of love throughout the play. The Duke is in love with the idea of being in love with Olivia. Although, he presents Olivia with loves letters promising her many beautiful things, he should be presenting them to her himself, not by one of his servant Cesario. In contrast, Viola, who is Cesario, shows the readers what true love is. She follows Orsino’s instruction regardless of her own desire for the Duke. She does everything she can to make sure that Olivia falls in love with Orsino.
Within the love triangle we see pain, Sir Andrew, who is a friend of Sir Toby, is seen as not well suited for Lady Olivia, but he continues to try, especially towards the end when he tries to woo her by challenging Cesario to a duel, and loses. Also, Malvolio, who is a servant of Olivia is tricked by Maria who forged a letter that supposedly announced Olivia’s love to him. When by the end of the play, Malvolio learns the sad truth and becomes shameful for his actions and also heartbroken. There is also a companionship love between Antonio and Sebastian. Antonio becomes fond of Sebastian’s company through their adventures in Llyria, but upon witnessing Sebastian marry Olivia he becomes brokenhearted as well knowing that he will not be able to enjoy the company of Sebastian.
Love, and the consequences of being in love, is a main theme in Twelfth Night and it brings about the emotions of what being in love is like. Through Orsino’s selfishness we see that he does not know how to love, but is in love with the idea of loving someone. Viola, on the other hand, shows the selflessness of love and the humility that should be gifted towards the significant other.
Throughout the semester I have read many poems and stories that have actually made an impact on my life. Though, I am not trying to degrade my previous literature courses in the past, I just feel as if this course has caused me to reflect on everything in my life and take it as they are, never for granted. This class has taught me to in the words of Hague, “Make your mark on everything.” And, though it may come with some defects and challenges, there is no need give up.
In William Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night each character is given a specific character flaw that restricts their character from achieving their overall goals. These personalities all collide with each other to create the specific situation that the characters find themselves in. The Duke’s shows signs of weakness and is too proud to be loved by Olivia. This depicted by the way that the Duke never goes himself to see Olivia but rather thinks so highly of himself that he can send messengers to get the same point across. Even in rejection, the Duke fails to see it this way and rather sees himself as being loved even more by Olivia. Olivia’s character flaw is that she is unable to get over the loss of her brother and her melodramatics restrict her from moving on and finding love. Viola is the only character that does not seem to have a character flaw. Instead she has specific strengths that allow her to progress throughout the play and eventually achieve her goals. This is depicted by the way she is able to quickly move on from the thoughts of her brother’s death and shipwreck to be able to provide for herself.
The Duke’s character flaw prevents Olivia from being able to love him and look past grieving over her brother. The way that the Duke sends countless messengers over to Olivia best portrays this flaw because it shows that he is too proud to go himself and also does not respect or truly love Olivia. “What would I do? Make me a willow cabin at your gate, and call upon my soul within the house; “Viola is able to see past the Duke’s character flaw and even conveys how the Duke should love Olivia contrary to the way he is. Violas character strengths are able to identify the flaws in all the other characters and bring them to light. She is the most independent and strong character and is able to get what she desires due to these character strengths. Violas other character strength lies within her selflessness in how she puts the Dukes and Olivia’s desires before her own. Because of this character trait, Viola is able to get exactly what she wants in the end being the love of the Duke. He is able to love her because of her loyalty as a disguised servant and can see how she put his needs over hers. This would not of been able to happen without this key character trait.
The theme of a selflessness character trait ties into the Wednesday scripture based lectures that I have been going to. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I am not a religious person and mostly use the time to mediate while trying to understand as much of the scripture as possible. However I do know that an important aspect of religion is selflessness and the willingness to give to others even if it may not be in your self interest. Viola does exactly this and is rewarded for it in the end. This is a good character trait to have and Shakespeare shows that in the end you will rewarded for your selfless acts.