The twelfth night


October 20, 2021

Twelfth Night, or What You Will is a five-act comedy written in prosimeter by William Shakespeare between 1599 and 1601 and published posthumously in the First Folio of 1623. The title alludes to the feast of the twelfth night (corresponding to the Epiphany) called in this way for the number of days that pass from Christmas to the holiday. It was represented with certainty on February 2, 1602 at the Middle Temple Hall, but it has been hypothesized that the world premiere took place the previous year on the day of the Epiphany, January 6, 1601. Its literary origins derive from Gl'ingannati, a Italian comedy staged in Siena by the Accademia degli Intronati in 1531. Set in the ancient Balkan region of Illyria, it tells a story of love and deception, in which the twins Viola and Sebastian, following a shipwreck, meet Duke Orsino and the lady Olivia. Orsino loves Olivia who ignores her court, but when he finds himself in front of Orsino's messenger (the young Viola who after the loss of her brother disguised herself as a man to enter the Duke's service), he falls in love with her, triggering a series of events and unexpected events that will lead to a happy ending. A subplot, important for the purposes of the plot, sees the characters that populate Olivia's court as protagonists: the jester Feste, the butler Malvolio, the maid Maria, the uncle Sir Toby, the servant Fabian and Sir Andrew Aguecheek. The butler Malvolio is mocked by the other five who, by falsifying a letter, make him believe that he is the object of attention from the mistress Olivia. The meter used is the iambic pentameter, loose or rhymed, mixed with prose: more than half of the play is written in prose. The dramatic scenes are in verse, while the comic scenes are in prose; the high-level characters speak in verse, while the low-level characters speak in prose. theatrical and cinematographic form.


The play takes place in Illyria, an ancient region of the Western Balkans close to the south coast of the Adriatic Sea, intended by Shakespeare as an exotic setting of pure fantasy. The first three scenes introduce the main places and characters of the opera, with the exception of Olivia, who appears only in the fifth scene. First act The first act opens at the court of Duke Orsino, a noble gentleman of Illyria, who laments his unrequited love for the beautiful Olivia, a gentlewoman who has decided not to give herself to any man for seven years in order to honor mourning for the dead brother. In vain Orsino sends messengers to the woman's palace: they are not even received. At the same time, on the coast, the female protagonist Viola was shipwrecked, and she believes that her twin brother Sebastian is dead. By questioning the captain of the shipwrecked ship, she is informed of the place where she is and of the events of Orsino and Olivia. Viola then decides to dress up as a boy, being very skilled in this since as a child she had repeatedly enjoyed imitating her brother, and believing her position as a man rather than a woman more secure, she takes service from Orsino, as a page, with the name of Cesario. In Olivia's house, meanwhile, the girl's noisy uncle, Sir Toby Belch, chatting with the maid Maria, sings the praises of her drinking buddy Sir Andrew Aguecheek, suitor for the young woman's hand. Maria describes him instead as a perfect boeotian and drunkard, and when Sir Andrew enters the scene he does not ignore expectations, proving to be slow and not very ready wit. The fourth scene of the first act inaugurates the first sequence of the comedy (from I, iv to II, iii), lasting one day, from morning to night inol

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