Twelfth Night Essay

In: Literature essays

Twelfth Night Essay

A Twelfth Night essay should highlight the fact that this is one of Shakespeare’s most delightful comedies. Many renowned scholars-including William Hazlitt have written analytical essays on the characters of Twelfth Night that go in to making this play what it is. Your Twelfth Night essay can draw from such sources to analyze these captivating characters by stating that the Twelfth Night“… aims at the ludicrous rather than the ridiculous. It makes us laugh at the follies of mankind, not despise them, and still less bear any ill-will towards them.”(William Hazlitt.)

Hazlitt goes on to point out that the ‘foibles and follies’ of the characters are more a natural outcome since the characters are not artificial or contrived. Hazlitt points out that these characters are blissfully unconscious, “… of them themselves, or care not who knows them, if they can but have their whim out…” As a result the audience enjoys and humors their antics rather than, “…wish to give them pain by exposing their absurdity. This may be called the comedy of nature, and it is the comedy which we generally find in Shakespeare.”

Comedy of nature

Shakespeare’s comedy of nature is infused with “…the romantic and enthusiastic, in proportion as the characters are natural and sincere: whereas, in the more artificial style of comedy, everything gives way to ridicule and indifference…” Hazlitt points out the  natural comedy of Shakespeare is of a “…pastoral and poetical cast…” that is free from social affectations that are rampant in the more social comedies of other playwrights whose grossly eccentric and artificial characters depend more on satire and wit as well as puns to draw a more judgmental kind of laughter from their audience. But for Shakespeare's comedy, “ Folly is indigenous to the soil, and shoots out with native, happy, unchecked luxuriance. Absurdity has every encouragement afforded it; and nonsense has room to flourish in.”

In the Twelfth Night, “The Clown's forced jests do not spoil the sweetness of the character of Viola; the same house is big enough to hold Malvolio, the Countess, Maria, Sir Toby, and Sir Andrew Aguecheek. For instance, nothing can fall much lower than this last character in intellect or morals: yet how are his weaknesses nursed and dandled by Sir Toby into something "high fantastical,"

To gain a deeper insight in to the characters of the Twelfth Night your Twelfth Night essay can draw on the observations of scholars like William Hazlitt to add more meaning and dimension to your Twelfth Night Essay.


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