Shakespeare Twelfth Night
William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night; or What You Will is one of his better-known comedies, a fantasy of mistaken identity, romance, and foolery written as light entertainment for the Christmas holiday. The earliest known performance took place on February 2, 1602, which was the Feast of Candlemas, the traditional end of the Christmas season in Tudor England. Twelfth Night, the evening before the Feast of the Epiphany, was generally at the time a feast of drunken revelry, overseen by the Lord of Misrule, who would call for entertainment and song. The lighthearted nature of the play is perfect for such an occasion.
The story involves Viola, a young lady shipwrecked on the shore of Illyria. She has been separated from her twin brother, Sebastian, whom she believes has drowned. In order to protect her chastity, Viola disguises herself as a boy, Cesario, and enters into the service of Duke Orsino. The Duke then asks Cesario to profess the Duke’s love to Olivia, who has refused to marry until her seven years’ mourning for her father and brother are over.
However, Olivia falls in love with “Cesario,” and then, when Sebastian finally arrives, Olivia believes that he is Cesario, and the two are secretly wed. Viola’s true nature is revealed, and she and the Duke marry. The play is referenced several times in the film Shakespeare in Love, which also involves a woman disguised as a man.