Tanya Hopker 26 February 2004
Section A: Number 1
Dramatic irony is used to create comedy in this play. Write an essay explaining the effectiveness of this literary device in the first Act of "Twelfth Night".
In the play "Twelfth Night" by William Shakespeare the playwright uses much dramatic irony. Dramatic irony occurs when the audience knows something in the play that the characters themselves do not know, but act out. It is very effective in creating humor and comedy. Here are some examples of dramatic irony:
Towards the end of scene four the Duke wishes to send Cesario to court Olivia for him. The Duke believes that Olivia will pay more attention to Cesario and be able to relate to him better because he is young and good-looking. The Duke does not realise that the reason Viola looks this way is because she is female.
Later on in the play the Duke speaks to Cesario and compares him to the Goddess of hunting and virgins, Diana. He says that Cesario has red lips like Diana and has a high-pitched voice like a woman. The Duke does not know that Cesario is in fact a woman, Viola, in disguise. This creates comedy because the audience knows that Cesario is Viola in disguise, but the Duke does not.
In Lines one hundred and twenty to one hundred and twenty-four Scene five Act one Malvolio describes Cesario as "Not yet old enough for a man, nor young enough for a boy" Malvolio cannot seem to quite put his finger on why Cesario looks as he does. Malvolio continues to say that Cesario is handsome and speaks with a squeaky voice. These characteristics are because Cesario is actually Viola, a woman, to whom these features are natural.