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Twelfth Night Summary
William Shakespeare

Everything you need to understand or teach Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare.

  • Twelfth Night Summary & Study Guide
  • 60 Student Essay
  • 1 Encyclopedia Article
  • 216 Literature Criticism
  • 1 Book Note
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Twelfth Night Summary


Twelfth Night was written possibly as early as 1599, but is usually dated 1601. The earliest performance recorded is dated February 2, 1602 at the Middle Temple. Witness John Manningham observed that the play was "much like the Commedy of Errores, or Menechimi in Plautus, but most like and neere to that in Italian called Inganni." Shakespeare was most likely informed by at least three Italian plays titled GI'Inganni, ("The Frauds") which also utilize theme of mistaken identity. One of these Italian plays, written by Cuzio Gonzaga in 1592, even includes a character name "Cesare" or Cesario. However, the plot of Twelfth Night seems to be derived mainly from the story "Apolonius and Silla" by Barnaby Riche, in his Riche, His Farewell to the Military Profession, (1581), which in turn was based on another Italian comedy GI'Ingannati ("The Deceived"), first acted in 1531. Matteo Bandello's 1554 Novelle, translated into French by Francois de Belleforest in his 1579 Histoires...

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