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.