Service and Reading Analysis
Clothes, appearance, parents, gender, and your experiences can define one’s identity, but these same things that make it can also skew one’s identity. In the play, Twelfth Night or, What You Will, William Shakespeare constantly distorts the main characters’ identities in order for them to get what they desire. In the second half of the play Violet, still dressed as Cesesario, continues to try to persuade Olivia of Orsino’s love for her. However as a result of Orsino sending Violet to deliver his messages, Olivia falls in love with Violet after their first encounter. The love triangle between Olivia, Orsino, and Violet becomes complete after Violet falls in love with Orsino, her master. Furthermore, as a result of a cruel joke played by Maria, Sir Toby, and Sir Andrew Malvolio is made to believe that Olivia secretly loves him, unknown to Olivia. Also, Sir Toby convinces Sir Andrew the way to Olivia’s heart is through showing his masculinity in a duel against Cesesario. In the end of the play the love triangle is disassembled after the true identity of Violet is discovered.
Throughout the play many of the characters morph their identities in order to help them get what they desire, whether it is something physical or emotional. Although many of the character’s identities are altered in someway in the play, Violet is the only character that physically alters her identity through the use of clothes. After making it ashore Illyria with the Captain that saved her from drowning, Violet tries to decide what she is going to do. After some consideration of alternative solutions, Violet tells the Captain, “’Conceal me what I am, and be my aid/For such disguise as happy shall become/The form of my intent’” (I. ii. 4). Violet completely distorts her identity by disguising herself as a man in order to become a servant for the Duke. However, there are many more characters that alter their identities to aid in getting an emotional longing. For example Olivia changes her emotional “identity” in order to have Violet come back again to see her. Right after Violet leaves, Olivia thinks to herself, “Even so quickly may one catch the plague?/Methinks I feel this youth’s perfections/ With an invisible and subtle stealth/To creep in at mine eyes. Well, let it be” (I. v. 17). After encountering Violet just once when she came to give her Orsino’s message of love, Olivia emotional “identity” morphs from mourning her brother’s death to falling in love with Violet. Lastly, some characters also skew their identity to get their desires. Throughout the play Sir Toby acts as though he is looking out for the best interests of his friend, Sir Andrew, and trying to help him win the love of Olivia, yet in reality Sir Toby is only after Sir Andrew’s money. Sir Toby states to Fabian, “’I have been dear to him, lad, some two thousand strong, or so’” (III. ii. 40). Unlike what Sir Andrew believes, Sir Toby is not a friend but instead Sir Toby morphed his identity to get what he wants, Sir Andrew’s money. Many characters in the play selfishly or unintentionally alter their identities to get what they yearn for.
Today at Acts 4 Youth the 7th grade boys had a discussion with Mr. Wallace about peer pressure and what makes you, you. During the discussion I constantly thought about how severely our identities are skewed, distorted and morphed because of our friends, love ones, clothes, reputation, and expectations. Mr. Wallace questioned the boys into what they thought their identity was and how it was altered and created from different forms of pressure. The boys described how they believed appearance was the number one way someone’s identity could be altered. This made me think of how Violet, Orsino, and Olivia all altered their appearance – from Violet’s physical appearance with clothes to Orsino and Olivia’s emotional appearance. In Twelfth Night or, What You Will, Shakespeare analyses a theme – altered identities – that is still relevant to people in the present day.