The Use of Deception in Twelfth Night

Noelia Brea Santos

The Use of DeceptionĀ in Twelfth Night

    Deception is a key theme William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. The characters must use deception to obtain good things, escape bad situations, or play cruel hilarious ticks on other people. One example of deception is when Viola clothes herself in men's clothing in order to obtain a job under the Duke of Illyria, Orsino. During another scene Sir Andrew, Fabian, Maria, and Sir Toby Belch trick Malvolio into making a fool of him. A third example of deception is when Feste the jester disguises himself as Sir Topas and taunts Malvolio. Each of these scenes and characters helps depict the different uses of deception.
    The first example of deception is Viola's decision to dress as a man. She must do this in order to survive. Viola is a young woman who escaped a shipwreck along with her twin brother, Sebastian. Unfortunately, the twins where separated during the shipwreck and they believe that the other perished. Viola has no way of survival than to dress as a man and serve Orsino: "For such disguise as haply shall become the form of my intent. I'll serve this duke". (Act 1, Scene 2).
    While serving as a messenger between Orsino and Olivia, Olivia happens to fall in love with Viola instead of the Duke. Later a captain finds Viola's brother, Sebastian, on the shore of Illyria. They both go into town and Olivia sees Sebastian. Sebastian and Viola happen to be wearing the exact same clothes, thus making it difficult to tell the two apart. Olivia mistakenly proposes marriage to Sebastian. Despite the fact that Sebastian has never met Olivia before, he accepts. After the Duke discovers Viola's gender, he falls in love with her and they wed.
    A second example of deception is the cruel trick that Sir Andrew, Fabian, Maria, and Sir Toby Belch play on Malvolio. Maria, Olivia's "lady-in-waiting", writes a note in her mistress's handwriting saying that Olivia falls for men who wear high yellow stockings...