Event Analysis #6
18 April 2013
The theme of mistaken identity can prove to be very beneficial although deceitful. In the play The Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, mistaken identity seems to be a major reason for the commotion caused throughout the story. Characters are not who they appear to be and lies continue to fester as the play proceeds. It seems as though there would be a detrimental end however, it appears to turn out just opposite of that when true happiness is found. This is relatable to the speaker and author, Leo Bretholz, who came to Loyola to share his experience as a Holocaust survivor. He explains that courage and his constant hidden identity is what helped him escape the concentration camps and free himself of danger. Through Jesuit principles I value the goal to be true to myself and understand the values behind this statement. In both examples it is clear that although individuals did not appear as themselves, they were still very true to their character.
The Twelfth Night focused primarily on the lives of those living incognito. This was shown through the character of Viola who came to the town of Illyria to serve as a servant for the duke named Orsino. Coming to town she identified as a male by the name of Cesario instead of herself. As the reader, we know that she is hiding who she really is but other characters in the play are not aware of the truth. With the time that Viola spends working for Orsino, she begins to fall madly in love with him. Of course this is not something she could confess to being that Orsino views Viola as a male. Instead Viola puts her desires for Orsino aside and focuses on helping Orsino with whatever it was he needed assistance with. Making matters even more difficult for Viola, one of those tasks Duke demanded was to help him win the love of mistress Olivia. Out of high respect for Duke, Viola willingly complied. “I’ll do my best to woo your lady: (aside) yet, a barful strife! Whoe’er I woo, myself would be his wife”. This suggests a lot about Viola’s character and how strong of a love she truly holds for Orsino. Despite her feelings she is willing to do anything for Orsino and seems to always put him first. Orsino realizes Viola’s true identity at the end of the novel and is immediately drawn with love for her. He recognizes that she was just as much of a caring person even disguised as a man. The relationship between the two characters changes from friendship to romance however, the substance of the relationship has always been true throughout. Had Viola not dressed as a man and become so close to Orsino then there most likely would not have been any relationship to develop further. The outcome proved to be beneficial for both characters all due to a mistaken identity.
Leo Bretholz was a strong young man who used different identities to get himself through one of the most lurid moments in history. The Holocaust was a brutal time that killed thousands of individuals of the Jewish population. Not only were these people killed but they were also tortured, starved, and beaten by the Nazi party. Times were very rough and it seemed as though it was impossible to escape, claims Mr. Bretholz. However, the unlikelihood of escaping did not stop Leo from trying. In the lecture I attended, Leo explained how he would constantly be on the run in effort to escape the persecution of the camps. A common way to save yourself at the time was to take on a new identity that did not state you were Jewish. Leo did this quite often and would take on whatever role he had to so he could get away clean. He explained how he became very good at French and could fool anyone with his beret walking around as a “French Man”. He still managed to get arrested in places as Paris and Belgium but he always managed to use his courage to get away. It seemed as though he kept restarting his life as a new character in a new place. Luckily Leo was one of the few people of this time that came out of the Holocaust with his life. Bretholz was always true to his persevering attitude and never held back in his fight for his life. Although he was deceitful to many people, Leo knew he was strong enough to get through his pain and overcome his obstacles. Had he not been so persistent he would have been at Loyola speaking to students today. It was a blessing that disguising himself could bring him the happy life he finally achieved.
Through these two examples of mistaken identities, I have realized that truth may still be found even under any disguise. It is surprising to think that something with such a negative connotation could be the very cause for the happiness that is obtained at the end. Loyola wishes students to be themselves and express what truth lies within us. I believe that Viola and Leo both were able to grasp that message even with an identity that was not theirs.