Friday, November 15, 2013

Patterns and Themes in 12th Night

Homework for Tuesday 11.19:
Conversation-style post, using at least one quote.  From these first 4 scenes, what conflicts, issues, patterns or themes have arisen?  (i.e., what might you want to track for an essay?)

22 comments:

  1. So far, I'm seeing a pattern of characters being selfish and self-important. Orsino and Viola come to mind. Both their worlds revolve around wanting to win someone's love and being with someone instead of just being in love with someone and having someone love you back. When Orsino sends his servants off to "woo" Olivia, it shows how he is concerned about winning more than he is about telling her how he truly feels. He doesn't actually love her because he won't even do these things he's telling his people to do himself. He tells Cesario to "stand at her doors... 'till thou have audience". Love isn't about proclaiming to the world and showcasing it to everyone. It's about thinking of the other person and caring about how they feel. Orsino evidently doesn't care about Olivia's emotions if it doesn't concern him. At the end of 1.4, Viola says, "whoe'ver I woo, myself would be his wife". She's so caught up in her love for Orsino and her need to be with him that she seems a bit disconnected with people. By not revealing her true identity, is she being selfish in some way? Human selfishness and generosity are themes I might get into for my essay.

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  3. Characters in Twelfth Night constantly disguise themselves or play parts in order to trick those around them. Most notably is Viola’s disguis as Cesario and Orsino's rather clichéd lovesickness for Olivia and her response as the unattainable grieving woman. The two characters bring into question the extent to which these characters are just playing these roles, rather than truly feeling the emotions they claim to be experiencing. Through the constant performance and role-playing of his characters, Shakespeare reminds readers that, like the characters, we also play roles and disguise our true selves in our own lives, and can easily be susceptible to the disguises of others.
    In addition, Shakespeare uses Viola’s disguise to explain the importance and dominance of men during the era. Readers are first introduced to Viola in when she decides to disguise herself when talking to the captain, “Conceal me what I am, and be my aid for such disguise as haply shall become.” Through this, we can see that Viola is asking the captain, a man, for help. Another aspect of disguise we see in this extract of Viola’s speech is when she states, “Nature with a beauteous wall doth oft close in pollution.” This is suggesting that those who are beautiful on the outside are often corrupt on the inside. This suggests that “beautiful people,” hide behind their beauty and use it to disguise their true selves, which cycles back towards Shakespeare’s theme of masking ones own true identity.

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  4. There seems to be an ongoing conflict of wisdom and foolishness. Both traits intermingle between the characters shown thus far. Some characters such as Orsino appears wise being a Duke, yet he tells Violet(Cesario) to, “Therefore, good youth, address thy gait unto her.” He is mystified by Olivia, allowing him to take any action in possibly attaining her. In scene five where Feste and Olivia are constantly barking at each other, they both appear to have wise traits yet they allow their words to be manipulated and twisted as foolish. Based on these conflicts, there is an issue of lack of respect for each character in the play. As Steffi has said, a theme of self importance is projected through the characters. Each character is in conflict with either themselves or another character to prove whether he is wise or foolish. Their is a lack of respect as many characters are using another character to get what they want. Characters of higher or lower title are being used for someone else's gain. Viola is immediately drawn to Orsino, tempting the Captain to aid her into getting closer to Orsino. Each character is in conflict of being wise or a fool in order to get what he or she wants.

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  5. I Agree with Hannah when she says that there is a theme of foolishness in the play. In twelfth night by William Shakespeare, the characters are constantly deluding themselves and disregarding common sense. Characters such as Viola, Olivia, and Orinso believe that they can solve a problem without facing it head on. In Viola’s case, she is clinging on to the hope that she can stay in the land without anybody finding out her social standing and her true gender. She does not seem to grasp that dressing herself up as a man is not the safest way to do so. Olivia believes that in avoiding Orinso, his love for her will diminish. Lastly, Orinso is deluding himself with the prospect of love. He is determined to get Olivia’s attention and is willing to do almost anything. However, he fails to think that sending someone younger and more handsome than he is a bad idea.

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  6. I have so far been seeing a pattern of characters attempting to manipulate others for their own personal gain in shady ways. This manifests in different ways for different characters. One being Orsino. He is in love with Olivia, but instead of going and telling her he sends a younger man. He knows she is emotionally unavailable but tries to circumvent this by telling Viola as Cesario that “She will attend it better in thy youth/ Than in a nuncio’s of more grave aspect” and that she shouldn’t come back without success, putting the pressure of rejection on someone else. He wants Olivia but isn’t willing to go through courting her himself so he manipulates Viola to do it with promises of favours and friendship. Viola is also manipulating others by way of lying about her identity. She is attempting to force her way into Olivia’s life by using Orsino’s trust of her. Even Sir Andrew is manipulating people. He tells Toby that he has a chance for romance with Olivia in order to keep him around longer to mess with. He uses a weak spot in a person he knows to be gullible. These are more dark alley type lies designed to get them what they want.

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  7. Dina K
    I agree with Steffi and the idea of the characters in Shakespeare’s play , Twelfth Night, acting selfish. However, I feel Shakespeare uses this characteristic to describe love and its negative effects on people. With the example of Orsino after hearing the news of Olivia mourning for her dead brother, he doesn’t show any sympathy for her. Instead, he only thinks of her “fine frame” as its only one of her “sweet perfections” that he cares about. With Orsino, Shakespeare wants to present when people are selfish in loving someone, they only see with their eyes instead of their heart. This means that Orsino is blindy loving Olivia just because of her physical appearance. Later on in the play, he orders Viola, whose disguised as Cesario, to go to Olivia’s place to “unfold the passion” of his love to Olivia. Here, Shakespeare presents that this is wrong because when someone is deeply in love with a person, they don’t send someone else to make his/her love confession. But, Orsino does this anyway for he feels he can get away with it.
    In addition, when Viola goes to present the confession to Olivia, she by accident uses it as a way to make Olivia fall in love with her. She used phrases to describe how Olivia’s beauty. Some include “Nature’s own sweet and cunning hand laid on” and “most radiant, exquisite, and unmatchable beauty.” In response to Viola’s rehearsed words, Olivia’s weakness towards compliments is revealed. To her, compliments can mean the same thing as a person making a confession. In this scene, Shakespeare wants to present the human weakness of people falling in love with their desires instead of the actual person as a whole. This means that Olivia isn't truly in love Viola nor Orsino, but the words portraying her beauty.

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  8. When considering possible themes for The Twelfth Night, I have to agree with Hannah in that there is a parallel between intelligence and aloofness. To add on, this theme is emphasized by the use of puns and witty exchanges. The exchange that demonstrates this is between Maria and Sir Andrew. When Sir Andrew questions of her metaphor, she responds with "A dry jest, sir." Andrew asks, "Are you full of them?" He clearly didn't get that she was jabbing at his foolishness and how scatter brained he is, which shows the contrasts between the two characters. Mary has witty things to say yet these remarks fly right over Andrew. There are many other example of witty exchanges and uses of puns that show wisdom in the characters and how they impact the character development. Since this play has an abundant amount of puns, I feel that it’s important to keep them in mind when analyzing thinking about the essay, especially if the play on words can help with connotations for deeper meaning.

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  9. These first few scenes have repeatedly brought up an issue shared by all the characters- the imbalance between heart, body, and mind. The first character introduced is Orsino and even from the beginning we are shown his inability for inner balance. He says, “If music be the food of love play on…Enough, no more, ‘Tis not so sweet as it was before” (1.1.8) Orsino is shown to be a romantic and flit from one idea to another, his heart blown way out proportion and his mind too small and unable to handle this imbalance, resorting to its indecisiveness, and removing the music he once thought he wanted. Olivia is also another character who so far has had this issue of a bigger heart than necessary, her grief for her deceased brother has consumed her and taken over other parts of her life that once might have given her some joy. She doesn’t pay attention to her own self-care, and dedicates time to cry in her bedroom, her mind and body shrinking to fit the overwhelmed heart she owns. Maintaining this balance may become a bigger theme throughout the play.

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  10. I agree with what Steffi said. The theme that I also see throughout the play is Orsino's and Viola's similarities where they both are in love with the fact of being in love. Orsino does not truly love Olivia but constantly tries to 'woo' her and chase after her. He tells Viola, "It shall become thee well to act my woes; She will attend it better in thy youth Than in a nuncio's of grave aspect." (1.4.26-28). Orsino thinks that creating a youthful impression will woo Olivia but in reality, it would only be misleading and manipulative. This creates a conflict for him because Olivia will never love him due to his lack of honesty. Viola is bound to be a failure in love due to her idea of loving the fact of being in love. She will never be able to love Orsino for who he truly is because she doesn't see the truth. She does not see how her head is in the clouds and sees nothing but love.

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  11. A theme that has risen in the first 4 scenes is gender roles, (how surprising that I'm writing about that). More precisely, the cross-over between genders. Cesario is described as, "That say thou art a man: Diana's lip
    Is not more smooth and rubious; thy small pipe
    Is as the maiden's organ, shrill and sound" (1.4.6). The Duke goes on to describe Cesario as having red lips and a high pitched voice. This description is positive, almost an attractive description. Even though the Duke describes Cesario as a very feminine male, it is not seen as negative. Historically, feminine males have been mocked and it is interesting to see a positive view of an androgynous boy. Already Shakespeare has blurred the lines of gender divide and it is a theme I am going to focus on throughout the play.

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  12. The most obvious pattern throughout the first act is the search for love. Most characters, whether they play a major or minor role in the play, are in pursuit of love. The character’s quest for love reveals the genuine qualities and wishes of each individual. Orsino demonstrates his manipulative nature that disregards reality, as he hopes to capture Olivia despite the fact that she is in a period of mourning. Orsino displays an account of a blunt individual whose self-esteem and financial wealth obstructs his view of what he hopes to attain in loving Olivia; rather than constantly ranting about her beauty, the audience never knows why he loves her. The audience also sees how Maria’s chastisement of Sir Toby’s drinking adventures is in hope of his personal wellbeing, as she possibly loves him. Maria’s journey to find love discloses the heart of an individual who prizes the identity or characteristics of a person. To the audience, Sir Toby is extremely repelling as he is characterized as a putrid drunkard. However, Maria is attracted to something within who he is aside from his hideous outward appearance. I personally believe that Shakespeare could initially be grasping on the desires of the heart in its pursuit of true love. I see this in a sense that we receive characters who prize different aspects of their “crushes.”
    At the same time I am intrigued by the concept of the “fool” that constantly appears in the dialogue between different characters. Feste is one of the most interesting characters as of Act I in my opinion as his witty remarks seem detrimental yet advantageous to him. In one scene Feste says, “Virtue that transgresses is but/ patched with sin, and sin that amends is but patched with virtue” (I.v.41-42). This remark was made to Olivia after she called him a “dry fool” and “dishonest.” Feste is grasping on the concept that the inner qualities of an individual can easily be obscured or covered by the opposite. A man full of “virtue” can be as easily uncredited with one example of sin just as easily as a sinful man can be perceived as “virtuous” by one example of virtue. Feste could be implying that the characters that are in search of love are fools as what they are pursuing are mainly false pretenses “patched” on the outside of an individual, disguising the qualities within.

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  13. I agree with Hannah and Nyssa’s arguments… Orsino is foolish, mainly because of the imbalance in his heart, mind and body. He is unable to see the reality of his relations with Olivia… He is consumed of the image and idea of her that his heart seems to take the most weight, while his mind and body seem to be completely useless. Orsino is impatient and foolish in his attempts to pursue Olivia, even going so far as to ask Viola, dressed as Cesario, to proclaim his love to Olivia. “It shall become thee well to act my woes - She will attend it better in thy youth”. Though I will pay attention to Orsino’s character development and balance of the heart, mind and body throughout the play, I will also keep in mind Viola’s character development. From what we have read so far, Viola has created a complex character for herself… Dressing as Cesario and exposing to the audience, her love for Orsino. I feel that both characters, in addition to Olivia, hold great symbolism within their characters, but I am not quite sure what they may be.

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  14. I agree with Shemuel as it is obvious that most of the characters that are presented so far, seek to find love. However many of them are blinded by the illusion or false impression of actually being in love. Orsino continuously makes it seem like he has the love of Olivia within his grasp, when in reality he is more then far from it. Ultimately the false impressions lead to Orsino making a fool of himself and it also pushes him to becoming much of a coward, for not reaching out to Olivia. Instead he uses messengers to speak on his behalf and gather information. He says, "Be not denied access, stand at her doors, and tell them there thy fixed foot shall grow, Till thou have audience" (1.4.15). Orsino constantly confesses his love and almost obsession about Olivia to others, however he never acts. Instead he is telling others to go stand at her doors and speak of his love until they get a respond from Olivia. The inability to overcome fear or accept one's self and reach out for what's in front of you causes a tear in the person. Orsino fails miserably because he is to self critical and doesn't accept himself and risks taking a lunge at Olivia, even with his flaws.

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  15. I agree with Steffi, Jamie, Emily, Nyssa, and many others who wrote about the pattern of fools versus ‘wits,’ an imbalance between the mind and heart, and skewed mannerisms concerning emotion. These themes have surfaced in every scene so far. Specifically, I’ve noticed the characters focus on intelligence, which emotionally detaches the characters from each other. This pattern first surfaces in the opening scene of the play, where Orsino intellectualizes his love, confining it to a defined symbol - music - and then demonstrating his desire for manipulation. He commands, “play on” (1.1.1), and then later “enough, no more” (1.1.7), revealing his perception of emotion as something tangibly and directly controlled. Such an intellectualization of an abstract emotion reveals how Orsino focuses on his reasoning and cerebral capacity rather than emotion and the abilities of his heart. He further reveals this emotional disconnect through his relations with his Olivia, his love. Orsino commands Cesario (Viola) to “unfold the passion of my love . . . It shall become thee well to act my woes - she will attend it better in thy youth than in a nuncio’s of more grave aspect” (1.4.23-1.4.27). These lines demonstrate how Orsino focuses on strategy in order to woo Olivia. Like Steffi argued, instead of approaching Olivia himself and showing her how he feels himself (or forming an emotional connection), he builds and commands a squadron of attendants to arrive at Olivia’s estate, without him, and act out his own “passion.” However, passion serves as a sensational and personal emotion, not a static message dehydrated by distance and different tongues. Furthermore, Orsino asks Cesario to act out his “woes,” or to reveal to Oliva Orsino’s unhappiness that the two are not together, pressuring her into seeing him. Finally, Orsino employs the servants accordingly since he believes Olivia will better “receive” his love through a youthful person. In this sense he turns her on to the messenger while distancing himself. Through all this strategy and rationalization, Orsino physically and emotionally separates himself from Olivia, furthering the pattern of focus on the mind and subsequent emotional detachment.

    This trend surfaces in a slightly different manner between Feste and Olivia, when the two battle to prove who wields the most wit. Feste, in an attempt to prove Olivia the fool, retorts, “The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your brother’s soul, being in heaven. Take the fool away, gentlemen” (1.5.61-1.5.62). Here, in his devotion towards demonstrating his mastery of intellect, Feste employs Olivia’s emotion (mourning) to demonstrate that she is a “fool.” This battle alludes to the characters’ focus on maintaining intelligence, as they believe emotions are negative for they weaken a person, chipping away at their minds and transforming them into fools. Through his attack, Feste severs most personal connection with Olivia, demonstrating that he doesn’t care about her feelings and would rather use them to put her down, while chastising the entire system of emotion itself. Therefore, a major pattern in Twelfth Night centers around the battle between the mind and the heart, where the characters obsessively employ their wits and distance themselves from emotion, labeling it as a weakness.

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  16. The thing I am going to be looking out for is probably one of the more obvious themes/relationships.It is the love triangle that is showing up. It is where Orsino is in love with Olivia. And then Viola is in love with Orsino. We know this already, but it is interesting for me to see how it slowly starts to appear in the play. Little by little, the reader gets hints about this ongoing conundrum. For example when Orsino sends Viola (in disguise) to try to get Olivia to love him she opens this up to the reader,"I'll do my best To woo your lady--[aside] yet a barful strife-- Whoe'er I woo, myself would be his wife." Here she reveals that she is in love with Orsino and if she got a chance, she would become his wife. This could be very valuable information because of her position. Since it is her job to make Olivia to like Orsino, and she doesn't want that to happen. This means that potentially she can interfere with this relationship. She can blackmail people. She could also probably make it the opposite of Orsino's goal, she can make Olivia hate him. In my opinion, this is the beginning of a multitude of heated relationships. This could also mean that Orsino will have to go out of his ways sometimes in order to please Viola so he would help him. Or would that just break their bond? This also makes me think of the ending. I wonder what it is. Who would end up getting who? Will Viola get Orsino or will Orsino succeed with Olivia? Can't wait till I find out. Will there be deaths? OK, that was random. But, yes, the ending is interesting to me.

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  17. I agree with Steffi that a pattern that is presented in the play is self-importance. At the beginning of the play we see the close relationship that Valentine has with Orsino due to the fact that Orsino has sent her to talk to Olivia and later on the play, Orsino states that he is sending Cesario because he knows everything about him, which means that Valentine knows Orsino well . This shows that she is of a higher level than the other servants. However, Cesario (Viola) starts serving Orsino. Valentine tells Viola, "If the Duke continue these favours towards you, Cesario, you are like to be much advanced. He hath known you but three days, and already you are no stranger" (1.3.1-3) Here Viola seems annoyed at the fact that Cesario is now close to Orsino and she has the feeling that Orsino will choose Cesario to do the most important things for him when she says, "you are like to be much advanced", she is also saying how now Cesario is going to be of a higher place than she is so she won't be as important as she was before due to this.

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  18. I agree with people's arguments that some issues reside with the characters' can be foolishness and manipulation, but for me, I think that an issue that is going on in this play would be the love and how the characters suffer or disrupted from it. Shakespeare utilizes this issue with the cause of various characters in this play. In the beginning of the play, Orsino starts the scene by stating, "If music be the food of love, play on." Orsino is stating how music is something that aids his comfort for the love he wants to seek. Orsino is someone described as a man who wants love as he later describes it as a "appetite" that he wants to satisfy but then later changes it where he wants that feeling to "die." Orsino is a man who is in love with Olivia, but at the same time, he wants that feeling to die as well. He describes love as something that he wants to obtain but at the same time, he is facing a confliction that he doesn't want to try to have or care about this feeling anymore. This is one part of how love can be disruptive and conflicting as we can see that within Orsino's perspective.

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  19. I have noticed so far in the novel that the improper use of communication seems to be a flaw in many of the characters. Orsino communicates to his love of his life by making someone else communicate his love to her. And Viola starts to fall in love with Orsino, but at the same time she is helping Orsino with his plans to get Olivia to fall in love with him. Everyone is so caught up in the emotional side in relationships that they neglect the physical aspects of one two. Orsino has mentally dug himself into a pit, thinking about Olivia. With this lack of communication Orsino cannot advance in getting to know Olivia. Another aspect of Orsino that I don’t understand is why he is using Viola, “Thou art a man. Diana’s lip is not more smooth and rubious, thy small pipe is as the maiden’s organ, shrill and sound” Orsino has a funny way of showing his love in sending a beautiful “man” to his lover’s house. I’m no expert on this kind of thing, but I know not to do that if I liked someone.



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  20. Patterns I have seen so far in 12th night are mostly attempted manipulation to gain someone’s affection. For now, though, it’s mainly Orsino and Cesario (Viola) that are attempting to gain love at such strange costs. Orsino lacks the understanding that to gain someone’s love one has to actually go talk to that person directly instead of sending others to go do their job: “Viola: Say I do speak with her, my lord, what then?...Orsino: O then unfold the passion of my love, surprise her with discourse of my dear faith. It shall become thee well to act my woes---she will attend it better in thy youth than in a nuncio’s of more grave aspect” (Shakespeare Act 1 scene 5). This shows that not only is he not only sending someone else to go proclaim his love for him, but he is also sending someone that is younger and better looking than him. This could show that he believes sending someone of higher spirits (at least, higher than him) will increase his chances of gaining someone’s affection. His multiple attempts of wooing Olivia (in all the wrong ways) is a pattern that seems to be recurring so far.

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  21. I think that the conflict that will arise in the play is how manipulation or what they will do to that will cause them great failure or success in love. I think that it's going to be something I would like to see develop in the play. The characters who have shown this so far is the Captain and Viola in Act 1 Scene 2 when Viola is trying to persuade the Captain to help her conceal her identity. She says,

    There is a fair behavior in thee, captain,
    And though that nature with a beauteous wall
    Doth oft close in pollution, yet of thee
    I will believe thou hast a mind that suits
    With this thy fair and outward character.
    I prithee—and I’ll pay thee bounteously—
    Conceal me what I am, and be my aid
    For such disguise as haply shall become
    The form of my intent. (Line 44-52)

    She gives the Captain complements to get what she needs. It is making him believe that she truly thinks of him in such a nice way that he doesn't see why he shouldn't help her.

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  22. One pattern that I find quite apparent is the use of duplicitous language to twist another characters speech to benefit their own point of view. The fool presents a view that the clever party flips inside out, almost like a cheverel glove (to a good wit. Delicious with wanton soup). This creates humor and establishes which character is in control. When Sir Toby and Maria are arguing about Sir 'Drew Toby states that Andrew has, "all the good gifts of nature" to which Maria retorts, "He hath indeed, almost natural (a term used for idiots" (Shakespeare 700) Although throughout this entire scene Sir Toby attempts to assert control over Maria and her thoughts, it seems to be Maria who is slipping out of Tobys clever wordplay and firing counter attacks. Usually when a character is defeated in wordplay we can see where they stand in the Shakespeare universe. Malvolio is unceremoniously trounced by Feste, and we can see later in the play just how low on the ladder he is. Toby, twists out of this slightly by having Sir Andrew take the fall. Andrew, like Malvolio, thinks too highly of himself and is thus very far down on the ladder. Losses in verbal jousts usually commit the character to Shakespearian purgatory

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