“Twelfth Night is a feminist play”
“Twelfth Night is a feminist play”

“Twelfth Night is a feminist play”

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  • Published: October 29, 2017
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I agree to a certain extent that twelfth night is a feminist play. What exactly is feminism? It simply means subversion of traditional ideas of gender. This means that men are supposed to be active, rational, wise, perceptive, loyal and trustworthy. On the other hand, Women are supposed to be passive, emotional, shallow, vain, deceptive and fickle. I agree to a certain extent that “Twelfth Night” is a feminist play [meaning that I agree to it] as the female characters are essentially good and most males in the play have flaws.

For example, Sir Andrew is weak, Sir Toby is a drunkard, Orsino is full of self love and Malvolio is extremely egoistic. In addition, apart from Feste, all the males in this play are not really witty unlike the females in this play who are extremely witty. In this play the women are strong and they enjoy challenges. Olivia is a good example of this characteristic. She totally enjoys challenges and does not like a boring life. An evidence to prove my point is when she was having a conversation with Feste in Act One Scene 5, when Feste said, “Good Madonna, give me leave to prove you a fool.

And Olivia replies to him by asking him “Can you do it? ” When Feste said the above he was being brave and persistent. His ultimate motive was to challenge Olivia and to prove her a fool, Olivia likes challenges and therefore she agreed to let him speak by telling him “Well, sir, for want of other idleness, I’ll bide your proof̶

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1;. She is telling him that she has got nothing to do and therefore she does not mind listening to what he has got to say, but the truth is that she is curious and is accepting the challenge and in addition she is rather excited for it because a challenge is all she wants.

The women in this play are also sacrificial. A tremendously good example to proof this is the character Viola. Viola’s love for Orsino is silent and concealed. She is the long-suffering woman and her sincerity is shown in her actions, sacrificing her happiness for Orsino’s happiness. Her love for Orsino is also shown in her silence. She does not indulge in public displays of affection. Rather her love is silent yet strong and powerful as may be observed in the soliloquy which ends the scene in a rhyming couplet “Yet a barful strife! / Whoe’er I wife”. These short lines reveal her intense longing and desire for Orsino.

Viola shows a very sacrificial type of love. Viola is in a dilemma which is due to the fact that she is torn between pleasing Orsino and making him happy by helping him get Olivia and yet the fear of losing him if she helps him. But despite her dilemma, she tells Orsino that she will do her ‘best/ To woo his [your] lady”. She is sacrificing her own happiness for Orsino’s happiness. Unlike Orsino whose ‘love’ is not sacrificial at all! The ‘love’ he has for Olivia should actually be defined as infatuation because his love is simply

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not sacrificial and true love is the total opposite as true love is very sacrificial.

Twelfth Night is also at the same time a play where mostly all the women are witty and intelligent. Even the female servant is intelligent in this play. The fact in twelfth night is that apart from Feste there is no other male in this play who is witty and intellectual. In my opinion I think that Viola is the most intelligent female character. For example Orsino recognizes the intelligent side of Caesario–> Viola and thus she stands out from the rest because of it. For example, he says, “Caesario, / Thou know’st no less but all”. ) Viola is obviously very perceptive.

She is a good judge and reader of character. In such a short time, she has gained the duke’s favour unlike others like Valentine who would have worked for Orsino for a long time. This suggests that she understands him well, what he likes and wants and is able to use this knowledge to her advantage. It also suggests she is a person who adapts well to situations. In such a short time, she is able to fit in. This also points to her intelligent and sharp nature. The evidence for this is the quote, “he hath known you but three days, and already you are no stranger”.

Viola constantly finds opportunities to seek out information. She wants to know how constant and stable Orsino is. This is because on the one hand, it would be to her advantage if he continues his favour towards Caesario. On the other hand, if he is inconstant, it would also be to her advantage because it would show that his love for Olivia would not last. This again points out her wittiness. She finds every opportunity and makes use of it and does not waste any time. On the outside she appears to be naive, this is shown my the amount of question she asks, but this shows that inside she is a very cautious person.

On the outside, she may appear generous, kind for example, she gives captain a lot of money but actually this is all part of her planning, which shows her scheming and clever/ manipulative nature. Viola is basically a strategist, she is very quick thinking. An example to prove this is that when captain told her that she cannot work for Olivia she quickly thought of working with captain. Then again, this shows that she makes use of opportunities. All these shows that she is very talented, educated and not forgetting she is incredibly learned. Unlike the males in twelfth night who are so Lenten [lame]!

The best example for this characteristic is the male character Sir Andrew in this play. He is simply dumb to the extent that he does not even realize when someone pokes fun at him. Maria being a servant is also very witty. She pokes fun at Sir Andrew without him realizing, this is caused only because of two things, firstly it could be because Maria is too witty or it could be because Sir Andrew is to dumb to

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