Twelfth Night Essay Research Paper Twelfth Night

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Twelfth Night Essay, Research Paper Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare is a comedy where commoners and royalty speak together frequently, in both prose and blank verse. The usage is not always clear to the modern reader but is easily understood with sufficient knowledge of the literary styles of the period in which Shakespeare lived. This shift from one form of speech to the other gives many things to the audience, allowing them to better perceive and understand the situation and characters that Shakespeare is portraying. The effect of the change is easily felt by the Elizabethan viewers, and can be explained to the modern reader, such that the impact it has on the atmosphere of the play is made adequately apparent. Generally in Elizabethan plays blank verse is used by

nobility: such as Dukes, gentlemen, Kings, Queens, and the like. In contrast, prose is used mainly by fools, clowns, and the lower class. These two distinctive ways of portraying dialogue are particular and help to segregate the classes. Blank verse is the manner of writing, in which each line of the play consists of ten syllables, none of which usually rhyme. This is meant to be spoken in a halting and therefore dignified manner, with the speaker stopping at the end of each line; one had to pay attention to what the character was saying and was held in slight suspense waiting for the next line. The broken flow of the sentences portrayed the nobility in a higher light, showing they were not confined to the normal constraints of speech, and had a specific and unique way of talking

that set them apart form the rest of the classes. In Twelfth Night all characters with wealth and prestige use this way of speaking: Orsino, the Duke; Sebastian, Viola?s brother; Viola, Sebastian?s sister; Valentine and Curio, two gentlemen; Olivia, a countess; the Sea Captain; and the Priest, the Lords and Officers. All these characters are people with power and money, something the blank verse becomes synonymous with. To compare, prose?which is the ordinary form of the written or spoken language, according to the Canadian Oxford dictionary?is used by the lower class of people. Another definition given is that prose is the dull or commonplace form of speech or writing. Both definitions show the motivation for this type of writing style to be assigned to the general population.

In the play it is used by the characters considered of lesser stature to the others: Antonio; the sea captain, friend to Viola; Malvolio; Fabian and Feste, Olivia?s servants; Maria, Olivia?s woman; and the sailors, the musicians and attendants. These are all people of service, and lower social standing. Of course, in this play and others, there are exceptions to this rule of speech assignment. The characters Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek, though obviously nobility by title, speak in prose as opposed to blank verse as their social class would suggest. Andrew. Ay, ?tis strong, and it does indifferent well in a damned-colored stock. Shall we set about some revels? Toby. What shall we do else? Were we not born under Taurus? Andrew. Taurus? That?s sides and heart. Toby. No,

sir; it is legs and thighs. Let me see thee caper. Ha, higher; ha, ha, excellent! (Act I, Scene III, lines 131-138) As one can see prose is used to represent their speech. Prose is used to indicate the lower classes, not knights as Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are. The reason Shakespeare uses this form of script is because, though the two characters are nobility, they are portrayed as ?fools.? A fool, in Elizabethan terms, is a comedic character, whose role is to provide comic relief. They are on occasion used in an ironic sense, as in the tragedies, when a horrific or serious event has passed and the fool babbles on in jest, taking away from the dark significance of the event. In Twelfth Night Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are used in a purely comical function. Their banter is amusing and