Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night
Partly derived from Plautus’ Menaechmi and Italian play Gl’Inganni by Gonzaga and Gl’Ingannati (anonymous)… Emphasizes mirth, carnival atmosphere characteristic of the 12 nights following Christmas ending with the Feast of Epiphany on the 12th night, Jan. 6, the last day of the revels. It was a time to let off steam and to deflate pretentiousness. Derived from the Roman Saturnalia. Play contains many playful religious allusions. Observes the irrational nature of love. Savor one’s pleasures while still young. Orsino is trapped in courtly artifice of love’s rules. Lovesickness has robbed him of his manly pursuits. Olivia maintains an artificially somber household with Malvolio. Viola challenges the staid artifice of their lives. Theme of not wasting the gift of beauty and failing to have children is as in Sonnets. Sir Toby is similar to Falstaff. Malvolio resembles a Puritan and must be deflated as must all killjoys.
(Text referenced from, and continues at the linked site above, courtesy Google search. Image copyright Imogen Crest 2007.)