Masks and disguises are used throughout Twelfth Night. For this week’s discussion, examine the importance of masks and hiding in the play. Choose two characters and identify what their masks are and what those masks are hiding. Are the masks helpful or harmful? Do people today use similar techniques to hide their true feelings or identities?
*Play has been attached with post
When responding to classmates, explain the similarities and differences between your analysis and theirs, such as how the characters you chose demonstrate the masking theme in a similar way to other characters, or how your interpretation of one character is different from your classmates’ interpretation. You may also wish to go back to The Taming of the Shrewand look for connections between the two works in regard to masking, both literal and figurative.
Peer post one: In the Twelfth Night, there are many characters who hide behind masks. The two I chose to review are Viola and Feste, both masking in different ways. Viola arrives shipwrecked in Illyria and decides to disguise her self as a male, and calls herself “Cesario”. Throughout this play she keeps this physicaly appearance as a male even when falling in love with a male, which she cannot reveal without breaking her male character. In this instance, she is masking physically rather then emotionally, unlike Feste. This type of mask can be harmful, as it can play with feelings that you may not be able to reciprocate, and could potentially lose an opportunity of friendship or a relationship. And there also could be a chance of embarrassing the other person when they find out you are not a man, and that could be harmful in the end.
Feste is an interesting character and is quite a silly character. It almost seems like he hides behind his foolishness so people don’t know he’s actually quite smart. (But I think he does this so that he can keep his job to earn money for his foolery). We see this type of masking in other stories in modern time where the popular guy wants to keep his popularity and hides how smart he is so that he isn’t labeled a nerd. Feste seems like the perfect friend, he would be a very honest friend, point the obvious out all while making you smile. In this instance of whether or not it could be helpful or harmful, while hiding behind this mask of foolery, could be helpful. I think Feste is smart enough to know when foolery should be tolerated and not tolerated in serious situations. But if not smart enough, this could be a harmful ending. A situation that comes to mind when using this type of mask is a class clown, making jokes of someone who had an embarrassing situation. That could potentially put you in trouble with the teacher.
Peer post two: Masks in Twelfth Night are incredibly important. The two characters I chose to highlight in this discussion are Viola and Malvolio, both who’s masks hide their true selves. Viola as Cesario is presenting an alternate identity to gain employment with the duke. This mask provides most of the comedy and drama in this play. Viola through the course of her work with the Duke ironically begins to fall in love with him as she is forced, as Cesario, to woo Olivia. The position that Viola is in is certainly helpful to the story if not helpful to the comfort of her character. The character of Malvolio wears a mask of his own when he finds a letter that he believes to be from Olivia’s hand describing her love for him. There is a set of instructions that require him to act and dress like a madman to win her heart. This is an elaborate prank and ends up being his undoing as he is painted as mad. This mask he wore certainly was harmful to his well-being even though the prank was ultimately revealed. The masks in Twelfth Night were critical to the advancement and enjoyability of this play. People still use certain masking techniques to hide their true feelings or to paint a more appealing picture of themselves. One example of this could be someones online persona on social media.
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