Twelfth Night

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade October 2001

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Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare is a comic tale of misunderstanding and confusion. Most of this occurs in act three, scene four as the characters find themselves forming the many themes expressed throughout the play. Love, madness and loss of identity are the key ideas represented. As this scene is the central scene in the play many ideas start and stop, and these ideas can be proved as the actors enter and exit the scene as well as their language used. Marvolio, his madness and love for Olivia, Viola and her identity crisis and Antonio's arrest are just a few of the topics in this scene.

The theme of love is mixed with deception throughout the play but in this scene it causes a lot of confusion. Marvolio is Olivia's steward and in the beginning is pompous and full of conceit. In the previous act he receives a letter that he believes to be from Olivia.

When a depressed Olivia calls on Marvolio because of his usual dry humor saying, "[h]e is sad and civil,"(Act3, Scene4, Line5) he enters with a strange air and starry eyes. Marvolio adds yet another twist to the plot by believing Olivia loves him because of the letter he received from Maria telling him to wear yellow stockings and act with optimism and Olivia will love him. When he arrives Olivia is shocked by his new mood and attire saying, "Why this is very midsummer madness" (Act3, Scene4, Line56). Marvolio does not mention the letter to Olivia although he could have except, Sir Toby enters.

In a dramatic tone Sir Toby sweeps into the scene, and Marvolio acts as he is told in the letter; curt and rude. As Sir Andrew and Sir Toby approach him like he has gone mad, Marvolio leaves in...