William Shakespeare is one of, if not the most influential writer in classical literature as well as in theater and performing arts. According to History.com, Shakespeare was born and died on the 23rd of April in the 1500’s. If he were alive today, he would have been 452. I’d like to take a moment to appreciate his literature masterpieces.
As a high school student, much of our required reading is Shakespeare’s work. In the 7th grade, I remember reading The Twelfth Night. I obsessed over the love tryst and the entangling romantic drama.
The main plot line follows a girl named Viola who pretends to be a man named Cesario. She is stranded in the land of Illyria and believes her twin brother, Sebastian, has died. So to be able to earn money, she becomes a page under the Duke Orsino (While dressed as a man). However, Viola become attracted to the duke, who is already enamored by the Lady Olivia. By being a messenger to the Duke, it is Viola’s job to deliver the Duke’s love letters to Olivia. Unbeknownst to Olivia, she starts to crush the women, believing him to be Cesario. Then, as if the comedy couldn’t get any more confusing, Sebastian, Viola’s brother who wasn’t actually dead, shows up at the worst timing. Olivia finds him, believing him to be Cesario, and asks to marry him. He doesn’t know her, but she is beautiful and wealthy, so he accepts. The drama unfolds at the very end with all four of the main characters meeting. The Duke Orsino loves Olivia, Olivia loves Viola, and Viola is in love with the Duke, completing the awkward entertaining love triangle. Add in a few more funny, confusing, and insane characters, and the story is complete. For a full explanation, check out SparkNotes.
If you already know the story, I’d like to take a moment to appreciate my favorite character, Malvolio, who is the “insane” character I mentioned earlier. This poor guy was the victim of prank that ended up putting him we would now call a padded cell with white walls and a straight jacket, but in those days was a simple jail cell for the mentally insane.
I also love the more modern interpretations of the Twelfth Night, such as the movies, Shes the Man, Just One of the Guys, and Victor Victoria.
- She’s the Man follows the same plot line but puts a high school drama in the mix. Even the character names are the same. The actor list is great too, which includes Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum.
- Just One of the Guys is a little less by the book with the original plot line but has the same romantic conflicts and also takes place in a high school setting in mid 1980’s. Also includes hilariously perverted comedic relief as well as addressing real life problems in that time period such as women’s equality.
- Victor Victoria puts a musical twist on the Twelfth Night, and loosely bases the story line off the original book. This movie/musical mostly follows the idea that a woman can be a man. It includes a romantic aspect and portrays a poor woman (Julie Andrews) who becomes a man in the performing arts world. She pretends to be a man, pretending to be a woman, because, ideally its more social acceptable for a man to pretend to be a woman, than visa versa.
So anyways, this post is dedicated to Willam Shakespeare, one of my favorite authors and a great inspiration. I thought I’d take a moment to share my favorite play of his. The Twelfth Night is a literary masterpiece and I hope it’s celebrated for years to come!
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