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    How does Shakespeare create sympathy and empathy for the charcters in ‘Twelfth Night’ Essay

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    William shakespeare, a famous poet and playright, has written many sonnets and poems in his time. One of his most famous plays was the ‘Twelfth Night’; a romantic comedy written during the Elizabethan era; where women stayed at home, being the ideal ‘mother’ of the house, not having a real voice compared to the men. Shakespeare uses various methods, to create sympathy and empathy for the characters in Twelfth Night like, Viola (Cesario),Lady Olivia, and Malvolio. Shakespeare creates sympathy for Lady Olivia, as we see that her brother dies.

    This is shown in Act1 scence1 when valentine is informing Duke Orsino, that Olivia does no want to speak to anyone. “The element itself,till sevene years’heat, shall not behold her face at ample view;” As Olivia is grieving for her brothers death, she has promised that she will not show her face at all, (especially not men) for seven years. This makes the audience feel sorry for Olivia, as a young woman she has no brother, or very close Family apart from Sir Toby, to protect or accompny her.

    Further on we see shakespeare creates sympathy for Viola, when she assumes that her twin brother sebastian has died; in the shipwreck. “My poor brother he is in Elysium”, shows that once again, shakespeare has created tension, to feel sympathy for viola, as she is left on the strange and curious island of Illyria, with no brother or friend to help, or guide her. Throughtout the play we see the character of Lady Olivia change the way she speaks, when talking to or about differnet people and about what she is feeling.

    When Olivia is talking about Duke Orsino to Viola (Cesario), she speaks in prose, keeping her awnsers short, and to the point. Act 1 Scene 5 “ I cannot love him: let him send no more-”. As we can see, Olivia, does not like discussing about Orsino, so she speaks like this so that she can end the topic as qucikly as possible. However when she is speaking to Viola (Cesario), In the same conversation, Act 1 scene 1, just a moment later, we suddenly see a drastic change in the way she speaks to Viola; due to a different topic she wishes to speak about.

    Unless,Perhance,you come to me again,”; shows how Olivia cleverly starts speaking back to poetically, as she is saying that she will only listen to how Duke orsino took her awnser, if Viola (Cesario) comes back to inform her. Through this we can tell that Shakespeare uses ambiguity through Olivia, as she trys to say one thing; only to hide up what she really wants and feels, without accidently telling Viola (Cesario). Which is, that she wants Viola ( Cesario) to come and return to her.

    Through this, we can see that Shakespeare had interpereted the character of Olivia, to be clever, and smart, as she can quickly change the way she speaks to someone, to suit her needs, without them feeling suspicious. We further on get a full understanding of how shakespeare creates empathy through Viola, in act 1 scene 3, when Olivia confesses her love for her, as she thinks shes in love with ‘a man’.

    Act 3 scene 8,“I love thee so, that, maugre all thy pride,Nor wit nor reason can my passion hide. , shows how Olivia, at her wits end, bursts out with her confession of love towards Viola, (Cesario), in attempt that Viola (Cesario) will be wooed by Olivias words, and fall in love with her too. However Viola comprehends what Olivia is trying to say to her, and explains towards the end of the converstaion that she cannot love her back. “I have one heart,one bosom,and one truth, And that no women has; nor never none. ” This qoute means, that Viola has not promised her love to any women and there will never be any women as we know that she is not really a man.

    Although, she says this in a structerd and complicated way so Olivia does not suspect that she is really just a women. Shakespeare uses dramtic irony in this scene; the audience knows that Viola is really a women and can’t have feelings for Olivia. However ‘Love sick’ Olivia, is unaware of this, and is still attracted to her. Towards the end of the play, The character of Malvolio is more revealed to be a pompous, egoistic, and quite controlling person, who considers himself higher, ‘better’, than everybody else.

    Due to these exact traits, make him vunerable to the cruel Joke Maria, Sir Toby and Sir andrew plot agaist him. He believes the forged love letter saying its from olivia, when it isnt; leading to Olivia being rather surprised, and worried. Act 3 scene 4 when Olivia says, “Why this midsummer madness. ” Olivia, is quite shocked seeing Malvolio behaving like this, because of the brightly coloured stockings he is wearing and how romatically he is speaking all of a sudden.

    This makes Olivia rather worried; she later On informas SirToby and Maria, about the nonsense and they agree that Malvolio must be posseed by the Devil. He is later taken by Maria and Sir Toby, as they horribley mock him all the way. “Why how now, my bawcock? How dost thou, chuck? ”. This quote shows how Malvolio using dramtic irony as he is pretending to speak to Malvolio from inside, as if he is a little child. The word ‘bawcock’ reprezents a ‘little pretty bird’. He says this because he is faking that Malvolio is possesed and by talking to him childlishly, he will be able to get him out of there.

    However both Sir Toby and the audience know that theres nothing wrong with Malvolio, apart from a fake letter that had been given sneakily by Maria and Sir Toby, and That Malvolio, has just gone and believed it. We as the audience feel sympathetic towards Malvoilo, as he has been purpously fooled By the pair, and does not know a thing. By hafza chaudhry As we can see throughtout the play, how shakespeare has used various teckniques to show sympathy and empathy for the charcters in Twelfth Night. He uses Comedy, romance and confusion so the audience can have a clear undestanding to how the character is feeling.

    He does this so that the audience can put themselves emotionally in their place, to understand how that charcter would be feeling. Like we change our language according to who we are speaking to, where we are, and what were doing; samely, shakespeare makes the characters of the play speak in Poetry or prose which helps the reader understand the character further. Furthermore it makes us understand exactly how that charcter is thinking, or thinks about someone and gives us a more solid opinion, as to how we interpret the characters.

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    How does Shakespeare create sympathy and empathy for the charcters in ‘Twelfth Night’ Essay. (2017, Oct 29). Retrieved from

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