Twelfth Night: Classless? Not so much …

Yesterday, I talked a little about gender in Twelfth Night. Well, not so much about gender as women. How there are so few in the play, and the world they’re in is less than hospitable toward them. But also how they end up on top in the world of the play.

I also mentioned that while Viola is a major role in the structure of the play–and by that I mean in the number of scenes in which she appears, as well as the number of speeches and lines the character has–she doesn’t have the largest role in the play. Now if I asked you, who that might be, maybe you answer Orsino, as he’s the purported male romantic lead in the plot. But you’d be way off. Malvolio, the man around whom the major subplot revolves? Nope, but you are getting warmer. Feste? Warmer still, but still no cigar.

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Twelfth Night: Hard Out Here in Illyiria for a Woman

Twelfth Night has only three female roles. We all know that in Shakespeare’s day the women’s roles were played by boy actors (often apprentices), so of course there would be fewer female roles–and in most plays, particularly the histories and tragedies, less prominent ones.

In the comedies (especially the later ones, of which Twelfth Night is the last, the valedictory), the females take greater importance. While As You Like It has Rosalind as its central character with the most lines, its remaining female characters drop precipitously in both speeches and lines. Twelfth Night, on the other hand, has an interesting breakdown of parts. While Viola has the second most number of speeches (just over 30 speeches fewer than the number one character–more on him tomorrow), she has only 8 fewer lines, at 335. Olivia is a close third with about 20 fewer lines than Viola in just 3 fewer speeches. Maria’s in the top 8 characters in both speeches and lines, with nearly 150 lines.

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Twelfth Night: Siblings and More

Yesterday, I talked a little about the nuclear family in Twelfth Night, and how there were none that were intact.

It got me thinking.

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Twelfth Night: Fathers and Mothers, Sisters and Brothers

In Twelfth Night, there are no nuclear families intact.

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Twelfth Night: Similar Names

Unusual names in Twelfth Night:

Olivia. Viola. Malvolio.

Uncommon.

Yet they do have some things in common.

O. L. I. A.

too bad it’s not M O A I … heh heh

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The Bill / Shakespeare Project presents: This Week in Shakespeare news, for the week ending Monday, January 19th, 2015

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This week’s Shakespeare news review includes “Wherefore: Shakespeare in Raleigh,” Forensic Shakespeare, and play announcements and reviews. PLUS our usual recap of this week’s daily highlights in Shakespearean history.

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Twelfth Night: Names

As we begin our second read-through and deeper dive into Twelfth Night, let’s take a moment and take a look at the names. Some are fitting, some not, some seemingly unrelated at all.

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Podcast 92: Twelfth Night Plot Summary and Intro

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This week’s podcast kicks off off our two month-long discussion of the last of Shakespeare’s great comedies with a Twelfth Night plot summary.

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Twelfth Night Plot Summary: Act Five–It’s All Happening (including threats of revenge)

As we conclude our Twelfth Night plot summary, the fifth and final act of the play begins at Olivia’s estate with Fabian asking Feste to see the letter from Malvolio. Duke Orsino and his entourage, including Cesario, arrive to speak with Olivia. After a little witty banter between Orsino and Feste, the officers come to the duke with their prisoner, Antonio.

Orsino recognizes him immediately, and magnanimously remembers that “very envy and the tongue of loss // Cried fame and honor upon him” (V.i.55-6). Cesario commends Antonio to Orsino, recounting how Antonio had drawn on his behalf. After Orsino asks the pirate and thief why he has come to Illyria, Antonio refuses those monikers, accepts that of Antonio’s enemy, says that it was “witchcraft” (V.i.73) in the form of “that most ingrateful boy” (V.i.74). He then goes over how he had given over his purse, but then was refused when he asked for it back for his bail.

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