Twelfth Night

by

William Shakespeare

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Twelfth Night: Tone 1 key example

Read our modern English translation.
Definition of Tone
The tone of a piece of writing is its general character or attitude, which might be cheerful or depressive, sarcastic or sincere, comical or mournful, praising or critical, and so on. For instance... read full definition
The tone of a piece of writing is its general character or attitude, which might be cheerful or depressive, sarcastic or sincere, comical or mournful, praising or critical... read full definition
The tone of a piece of writing is its general character or attitude, which might be cheerful or depressive, sarcastic or sincere, comical... read full definition
Act 1, scene 5
Explanation and Analysis:

With Twelfth Night, Shakespeare sets forth an argument about the absurdity of romantic love, and the tone of the play is both ironic and mocking. To achieve this tone, Shakespeare uses the character of Feste, who is a kind of bard, as a self-insert.

Although the character of Feste is possibly based on Will Sommers, who served as the court jester for King Henry VIII, he also bears a resemblance to Shakespeare. Like Feste, Shakespeare was not a member of the nobility, but his incredible skill afforded him privileges, such as the patronage of the English monarch, enjoyed by few others. Like Feste, Shakespeare was also unafraid to satirize powerful members of society. in Twelfth Night, Shakespeare uses Feste as a mouthpiece for his views on class, gender, and romance.

Throughout the play, Feste makes fun of numerous different characters for emotions that are exaggerated and insincere. In Act 1, Scene 5, for example, he points out to Olivia that it is hypocritical for her to mourn her brother's death while believing him to be in heaven:

Fool: Good madonna, why mourn’st thou?

Olivia: Good Fool, for my brother’s death.

Fool: I think his soul is in hell, madonna.

Olivia: I know his soul is in heaven, Fool.

Fool: The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your

brother’s soul, being in heaven.

In Act 2, Scene 4, Feste also mocks Orsino, who is in love with the idea of being in love, for his inconstant nature:

Feste: Now the melancholy god protect thee and the

tailor make thy doublet of changeable taffeta, for thy

mind is a very opal. I would have men of such

constancy put to sea, that their business might be

everything and their intent everywhere, for that’s it

that always makes a good voyage of nothing.

In Twelfth Night, Shakespeare presents love as the great social equalizer. Sir Toby, despite his noble status, is motivated by lust rather than love, as is evident from his crass language. Malvolio's ridiculous behavior serves to underscore the absurdity of Orsino's love for Olivia. Regardless of class, romantic love consistently makes fools of people, while the platonic devotion between servants and masters consistently saves the day.

Act 2, scene 4
Explanation and Analysis:

With Twelfth Night, Shakespeare sets forth an argument about the absurdity of romantic love, and the tone of the play is both ironic and mocking. To achieve this tone, Shakespeare uses the character of Feste, who is a kind of bard, as a self-insert.

Although the character of Feste is possibly based on Will Sommers, who served as the court jester for King Henry VIII, he also bears a resemblance to Shakespeare. Like Feste, Shakespeare was not a member of the nobility, but his incredible skill afforded him privileges, such as the patronage of the English monarch, enjoyed by few others. Like Feste, Shakespeare was also unafraid to satirize powerful members of society. in Twelfth Night, Shakespeare uses Feste as a mouthpiece for his views on class, gender, and romance.

Throughout the play, Feste makes fun of numerous different characters for emotions that are exaggerated and insincere. In Act 1, Scene 5, for example, he points out to Olivia that it is hypocritical for her to mourn her brother's death while believing him to be in heaven:

Fool: Good madonna, why mourn’st thou?

Olivia: Good Fool, for my brother’s death.

Fool: I think his soul is in hell, madonna.

Olivia: I know his soul is in heaven, Fool.

Fool: The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your

brother’s soul, being in heaven.

In Act 2, Scene 4, Feste also mocks Orsino, who is in love with the idea of being in love, for his inconstant nature:

Feste: Now the melancholy god protect thee and the

tailor make thy doublet of changeable taffeta, for thy

mind is a very opal. I would have men of such

constancy put to sea, that their business might be

everything and their intent everywhere, for that’s it

that always makes a good voyage of nothing.

In Twelfth Night, Shakespeare presents love as the great social equalizer. Sir Toby, despite his noble status, is motivated by lust rather than love, as is evident from his crass language. Malvolio's ridiculous behavior serves to underscore the absurdity of Orsino's love for Olivia. Regardless of class, romantic love consistently makes fools of people, while the platonic devotion between servants and masters consistently saves the day.

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