Shakespearean Interpretation and Implementation in Twelfth Night. The Elizabethan Age, a time of English nationalism and flourishing arts, was part of the Renaissance in England. Queen Elizabeth I was the Queen of England and Ireland from 1558-1603. The rise of nationalism in England was seen through cultural developments and the increased production of dramatic and literary works. Music came to be a representation of society, mood, theme, emotion and people themselves. Music also changed the way plays were understood and performed.
One of the greatest playwrights happened to live during this transformation from the Medieval Era to the English Renaissance – William Shakespeare – who embraced what was happening with music, people and the impact it could make on his work. Shakespeare was able to incorporate music splendidly, which enabled him to make a grand form of entertainment more brilliant and breathtaking for his audience. Queen Elizabeth was very fond of poetry, music and drama which led to court members to support the arts and paved the way for theatres where the works of William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe and John
Fletcher, to name a few, were performed. (http://tailboard. Ace. Due) During Shakespearean time music was ever evolving as an important form of entertainment and as an expressive tool in individual’s daily lives. Music was transforming during the Renaissance – becoming more refined and beautiful sounding than during the Medieval era. Elizabethans were extremely sensitive to beauty and grace; they had an undying enthusiasm for music and poetry. Music was everywhere – in the streets, homes, church.
It helped ease the stress of the common man’s daily live and if one loud not read or understand music he was thought to be poorly educated. Playwrights like Shakespeare who acknowledged the ways of society and searched for ways to better connect with their audiences turned to the implementation of music in the plays that were performed on stage. In general music has always been able to express feelings/emotions, escape life as known to us, excite and enrich our mind and soul while lifting one’s self confidence.
It has a way to transport the listener to another time or place – what better way to enhance a play before special effects were efficient and nearly impossible to make seamless’shakespeare inserted music in his plays with the idea of using it as an entertainment tool, as a way to support the dramatic progression of his plays. “He himself had a belief in the healing and transformational power of music and also in music’s ability to “tame the savage beast” or, to control nature. (Martin, RAG – yahoo article) Shakespearean plays usually were composed of verses that tended to be exquisitely musical. When you entwine music and verse they serve as enhancements to one another – making the flow of the play seem seamless to the audience. William Shakespeare was able to further the audiences’ understanding of the characters and also to experience the play on a visceral level by incorporating songs within the play. The songs offered poetic imagery and often had the sound of sweet melodies.
Often the songs of Shakespearean plays exerted as much, if not more, dramatic intensity as the speeches within the play itself. Many times the music gave a chance for comic relief in serious when not to use music in his plays – he understood that during his era, the Elizabethan Age, that it was expected that there be at least one musical performance n every play – and he delivered, regardless. A great example would be in As You Like It; Shakespeare added songs Just for the sake of having songs in the play and to benefit the Duke who commissioned the play (wry. Statues. Com…. ) The songs that Shakespeare used in his plays played several roles. Sometimes the song was meant to be “atmospheric/background”, while others were placed within the play to be metaphors or to serve the purpose of foreshadowing. Often songs were used to resolve and/or address issues the play itself could not due to time constraints, sources and lack of technical advancements available. It is interesting to note that very rarely did Shakespeare choose the major characters to sing – unless in disguise or if in a distracted mental state.
Usually the songs were performed by fools, clowns, servants, rogues or minor personalities. The music was also used to give the audience a more in-depth analysis of the singers’ personality through either the words or performance. William Shakespeare has been dubbed a creative genius for the way he carefully inserted music to support his overall dramatic goal of the work. RAG Martin article) A great example of his understanding of this great tool is greatly displayed in his play Twelfth Night. The Twelfth Night is a comedy by Shakespeare that is bursting with music.
This comedy includes instrumental serenades and rousing drinking songs – extremely different types to help the idea of sadness and happiness within the work. In total there are seven songs throughout the play, the most musical of all of Shakespearean works. The play begins and ends with music. This could have been to keep the audience attention from the very beginning and to keep the audience in the know all wrought the play. In the opening song – a self-pitying love song, we are introduced to Rosin and learn of his unrequited love for Olivia and his great desire to secure his overly romantic idea of what love is.
The song is untitled and does provide the audience with insight into Rosin and sets up the plot of the play nicely. “O Mistress Mine” is found in the second act of Twelfth Night and is performed by Fest, the fool in the play. The song serves as a carper diem that reminds us that we all will age and death is inevitable. This second song contradicts Rosin’s views as he refers to seek out the unattainable and relishes in the pain it brings him rather than embrace his youth and enjoy not only love but life itself.
The play is fast moving as is full of chaotic behavior and repercussions due to the decisions made by the characters – but as a comedy this is great and the songs compliment the situations well. We are introduced to a few rowdy, drunken characters and it is only fitting to have a party song to accompany a night of riotous behavior in song 3 “Hold Thy Peace”. Fest delivers another performance in act 2 with the fourth song “Come Away Death” Elizabethan_period. HTML)