Twelfth Night Essay

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Many critics have identified the problem of identity as a major issue in Twelfth Night and correlate the self-deception and disguises which are prevalent in the play with this theme. Frank Kermode has explored the limits of "wonder and madness" as they relate to identity issues within the play. Critic S. Nagarajan argues that self-deception-demonstrated by the disguises adopted by many of the characters clouds the reason of the characters involved.

While Twelfth Night is rich with characters who adopt disguises or play roles, many critics, including Karen Greif and J. Dennis Huston, both find Viola's gender-switching disguise to be the central focus of the play. In Greif's view, Viola is unlike the other characters in that she is keenly aware of her role-playing, and her admission of her true identity at the play's end is the event that makes it possible for Orsino and Olivia to drop...

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This section contains 6,616 words
(approx. 17 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Twelfth Night Study Guide
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Shakespeare for Students
Twelfth Night from Shakespeare for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.