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.