Twelfth Night, written by Shakespeare between the years of 1599 and 1601 (“Shakespeare-Online”), is easily one of his most well-known plays. A year after the assumed date of publication, on February the 2nd of 1602, Twelfth Night was performed for the first time (“William-Shakespeare)”. The location of the production is thought to have taken place in the Middle Temple, which was one of four law schools within London that were known as the Inns of Court (“Shakespeare-Online”). Though some would classify Twelfth Night as generic, it is laced with a sharp sense of humor and controversial concerns that can easily be applied to the issues of present day. Many of these issues, such as marriage, gender identity, sex, homosexuality, and social ambition, are relevant in today’s society, making them easy to relate to. The central theme of the play is romance. The characters all experience love, in one way or another, whether it be unrequited or shared between more than one person. The plot is intricately woven, sometimes confusingly so, between twists and turns throughout the multiple acts, but it never strays too far from the subject of adoration. Despite the hardships, misperception and deceit the characters experience, six individuals are brought together in the name of holy matrimony in three distinct nuptials.
Sebastian, the twin brother of Viola who was lost at sea after a shipwreck, and Lady Olivia are the first to marry, but things are not as they seem. During the weeks leading up to matrimony, Olivia fell madly in love with Cesario, who though looks and sounds just as Sebastian, is truly Viola dressed as a man. Sebastian does not realize this as he meets Olivia for the first time. He is amazed that a woman of her statue and beauty would feel so strongly for him and he wastes no time. Olivia proclaims: “Blame not this haste of mine. If you mean well / Now go with me, and this holy man / Into the chantry by” (4.3.22-24). Together, with the holy man, the pair wed in secret.
Viola, who has been acting the part of the male Cesario, does not feel for Olivia as she feels for him. It is Orsino, the Duke of Illyria, who has captured Viola’s eye. But alas, Orsino is caught up in his love, or rather what he believes to be love, for Lady Olivia to notice his right hand man, Cesario, has developed feelings. When Viola first arrived in Illyria, the Sea Captain told her the gossip of the Duke’s bidding for Olivia, whom had recently lost a brother. This is what sparked Viola’s inspiration to serve the Duke, thus serve Olivia, a woman who she felt a connection with after hearing of her similar recent heartache. While Orsino sends Cesario to Lady Olivia’s home, multiple times, to proclaim Orsino’s love for the Countess, Olivia finds no interest in the Duke and quickly falls for Cesario.
Olivia herself is the apple of many men’s eyes, aside from Orsino. Sir Andrew Aguecheek, a foolish man with money to waste, plays the role of comrade to Olivia’s uncle, Sir...