William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night follows a set of twins, Viola and Sebastian, after they are separated from each other when a storm destroys the ship on which they are traveling. Believing her brother dead and unable to find work anywhere, Viola disguises herself as a man named Cesario and takes a position in the house of Orsino.
The nobleman takes to Cesario instantly, and sends her to press his suite to the Lady Olivia — who of course promptly falls in love with Cesario/Viola. This upsets not only Orsino, but also Olivia’s other suitors, Sir Andrew and Malvolio.
Meanwhile Viola’s brother Sebastian arrives in town with his friend and protector, Antonio. Pranks, miscellaneous hijinks, several cases of mistaken identity, and a good amount of tomfoolery ensue — all before Shakespeare undoes all the knots and brings the play to its perfect conclusion.
My brain hurts, in a good way
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a Shakespeare play, and my brain seems to have forgotten how to do it. Twelfth Night is not one of the plays with which I was already familiar, and that made reading it even more of a challenge.
But of course that’s half the fun of Shakespeare: reading sections over and over again, puzzling out the meaning, and having a laugh or a sigh as reward for your persistence. I enjoyed reading about these characters going absolutely mad for each other, the ridiculous situations in which they find themselves, and how it all worked out perfectly in the end.
Not my favorite of Shakespeare’s works, but certainly much better than several of his others (ahem…Romeo and Juliet).