Reviews - What do customers think about Twelfth Night (Classic Drama)?
No surprises here... Apr 15, 2008
What can I say? I love Shakespeare! Cliff's Complete is fabulous for those of us in a new love affair with Shakespeare. Commentary and side notes along the way make it very understandable. Kenneth Branaugh's film and BBC audio books lend subtle interpretation which is very helpful as well.
What You Will Jan 5, 2008
Twelfth Night or What You Will is the story of a brother and sister, twins, who are shipwrecked and each assume the other sibling has died. Viola, the sister, takes on her brother's appearance in order to serve the Duke of Illyria, Orsino. Disguised as a man, Viola falls in love with Orsino, but Orsino is in love with the countess Olivia and sends Viola in his stead to woo Olivia for himself. This is Shakespearean comedy, so naturally, Olivia falls in love with Viola, believing her to be a man. More confusion ensues when Viola's twin brother Sebastian enters the action of the play and is mistaken for the man his sister has been pretending to be.
Twelfth Night is an amusing, if somewhat formulaic, comedy that is both endearing at times and disturbing at others. It leaves the reading wondering what to think. More than likely, this is exactly what Mr. Shakespeare intended.
The Cambridge School Shakespeare edition of Twelfth Night is obviously geared towards students, particularly theater and drama students as opposed to literature students. The text of the play is shown on one page while the previous, facing page describes the action of the play in addition to suggesting exercises to ascertain how each particular section could be played. My favorite part about this edition is the inclusion of all the photos, especially the photos showing how different productions handled the same scene. Personally, I prefer more in depth discussion about Shakespeare's plays than this edition offers, but it is probably ideal for a high school student or theater student studying Shakespeare.
Good, But It Is Flawed. Jul 17, 2006
Many of you probably recall this as the play Shakespeare began to write at the end of "Shakespeare In Love." As far as the movie goes, Shakespeare was to write something where love triumphed after it failed in "Romeo and Juliet." This comedy is often hailed as one of Shakespeare's best comedies. But there are reasons I can not quite place it on the same level as "Comedy of Errors," "Taming of the Shrew," "Midsummer Night's Dream," or "As You Like It." We meet Orsino the duke who is love with Olivia. But Olivia chooses to avoid men. (She never quite got over the death of her brother and father.) We also meet Viola. She has survived a shipwreck but fears her brother Sebastian did not. Fearful of possibly being raped, she disguises herself as a man and enters Orsino's servant under the alias name Cesario. Shakespeare then introduces us to the characters of a subplot. (Maria, Toby, and Andrew.) They will plan a practical joke on Malvolio. Moving on, Orsino hires Viola/Cesario and asks him to woo Olivia on his behalf. And here we have irony both tragic and funny. Viola loves Orsino but must woo another woman on his behalf. And if as this was not difficult enough, Olivia falls in love with her! Later, we see that Viola's brother Sebastian has survived, and we meet Antonio. Antonio is wanted in the area for theft, but his touching loyalty will not allow him to dessert Sebastian. There is a comical scene where Orsino has a man to man talk with Viola/Cesario. Now we come to one problem I have with the play. Maria, Andrew, and Toby plan an over the top practical joke on Malvolio. Malvolio represents the Puritans. Shakespeare did not like Puritans because they opposed his theatre. But there is no denying that practical jokes and ridicule are lower forms of comedy than human misunderstandings such as in "Comedy of Errors." In "Taming of the Shrew," Katherine certainly draws some comments, BUT, if we understand her character, we can see that she really deserves our sympathy. Well, the conspiracy (with the help of a fake letter from Maria) makes Malvolio plan to woo Olivia in an absurd looking outfit. Olivia will think him mad, and he will be thrown in a dungeon to recover his mental health. Moving on, Andrew becomes jealous and wants to fight Viola. (Because Olivia likes her.) In a comical scene, Toby pretends to want peace, but forces the hands of both Andrew and Viola/Cesario. Now here is another major problem I have with the play. Antonio mistakes Viola for Sebastian and saves her. But he is wanted in the area, and the duke's officers arest him. Viola knows she has been mistaken for Sebastian and is happy her brother is alive. Now if she had any element of human decency, she would have indicated herself as a servant of the duke and protested Antonio's arrest. Or if this failed, any decent person would have followed Antonio to the Duke and tried to get Antonio released. Toby, Fabian, and Andrew all have a point when they rebuke her. I am not saying a hero or heroine can't have faults, but this extreme fault was sickening. Moving on, we have some "Comedy of Errors" nostalgia. Olivia mistakes Sebastian for Cesario, and of course there is no problem with this love. In the end scene, Viola and the Duke run into the captured Antonio. To be sure, Viola confesses he rescued her, BUT SHE STILL DOES NOT EVEN ASK THE DUKE TO RELEASE HIM. CERTAINLY, THE DUKE WOULD HAVE GRANTED THIS MERCY TO A MAN WHO HAD RESCUED SUCH A USEFUL SERVANT! The errors of the day are sorted out when Sebastian comes on the screen married to Olivia, and Viola is able to confess her love to Orsino who reciprocates. Shakespeare allows us to infer that Antonio will not be severely punished, and of course Malvolio comes in threatening to get revenge. Overall, it is a good play with intertwined plots, comedy, and enough tragic elemenets to make it plausible, but there are some flaws that prevent me from considering it one of Shakespeare's greatest comedies.
Maybe Shakespeare's Best Comedy Dec 31, 2005
Last semester, I took a course on comedic drama in which the class read numerous classics of the genre. Twelfth Night was, in my opinion, pretty easily the best work that we read. While it's not necessarily Shakespeare's own best work, it is one of the true masterpieces of comedic literature, a work of surprising humor and depth.
The romantic plot is absurd, though of course, satisfying. In true comedic fashion, the play takes place is something of a fantasy world, with the laws of the world suspended. There is a chance for something divine to happen here, a chance for human masks to be torn away and for authentic connection to be made. Of course, something like that is what happens. Comedy (particularly that produced by the fool) pierces through the false barriers the people have build and allows for them to create for themselves a new life.
I think that's why I like the play so much. The farcical plot and the clever wordplay are delightful, but it's really that there is a subtle wisdom in this play that draws me irresistibly toward it. I think that you can read and reread Twelfth Night and always come away with a sense of something genuine.
True scapegoat which we should pay attention to Dec 16, 2005
This comedy written by William Shakespeare has a connotation which has a wide range of meaning. Who is sacrificed through out the play misunderstood as a person who has a hypocrite personalities and unacceptable disposition among the characters of Twelfth Night. In superficial level, we as a reader easy to reach the conclusion that he is a man who should be penalized, and not only characters within the Twelfth Night mocking at him but also the readers show sardonic response behaviors toward this eccentric behaviors after reading the Olivia's letter which is counterfeit. Thus, we consider the punishment that Malvolio received was something justified and axiomatically accepted one. However, that sort of view is not rightful judgement. We should aware that people who planned this clandestine of fake letter to make fun of Malvolio are truly an undiscovered villain. There's a lesson implied on the play that we as a human being should always pay attention to minors who overwhelmed by an unjust and huge mainstream.