Critically Comment on Twelfth Night as a Romantic Comedy
Twelfth Night as a Romantic Comedy : A Shakespearean comedy is a romantic comedy– a combination of romance and comedy.
Twelfth Night as a Romantic Comedy
Shakespeare’s comedies have certain features in common. His comedy aims at sheer joy and pleasure. He wrote tragedies because it was his taste but he wrote comedies to relieve his mind from heaviness. Hence, the romantic atmosphere of his comedies.
Twelfth Night is considered to be a romantic comedy
The word “romance” in general means passionate love between men and women, though it has certain other meanings as well. Romance includes any kind of fervor and any deep sentiment. Thus in Twelfth Night, the friendship of Antonio and Sebastian is definitely romantic. The word “romance” also implies danger, adventure and a heroic spirit- which we too find in Antonio’s war-like past. Furthermore the word “romance” implies improbability, surprise and coincidence. And this we also find in the manner in which on several occasions, Sebastian is mistaken for Cesario and vice versa.
A Shakespearean comedy is a romantic comedy
It is a tale of love with ringing o marriage bells. It is a tale of love at first sight. Not one or two of the characters are in love, but all are in love. Twelfth Night opens with a note of love. The duke is in love with Olivia, Olivia is in love with Viola (disguised as Cesario) and Viola is in love with the Duke. Sir Andrew and Malvolio both love Lady Olivia and want to marry her.
The setting of a Shakespearean comedy is romantic; it is unfamiliar, remote and distant. It exists only in the imagination of the dramatist. The scene of action is not laid in familiar and realistic London but in Venice or the Forest of Arden. The scene of action of Twelfth Night is Illyria, a country having no reality, but existing only in the imagination of the playwright. It is in such a romantic setting that the characters dance the merry dance of love and by the end are happily united with their lovers.
Since Shakespearean comedies are romantic comedies, love is bound to be there and a heart that loves must sing therefore they are full of songs and music. Twelfth Night opens with music and we find Duke Orsino feeding his love with music. We get the following other songs in the comedy:
- “O mistress mine, where are you roaming”
- “Come away, come away, Death”
- “I am gone sir, and anon sir”
- “When that I was and a little fine boy”
Music does much to heighten the romantic atmosphere of the comedy.
A Shakespearean comedy is also romantic in the sense that it does not follow the classical unities of time, place and action. In Twelfth Night only the unity of place has been observed. There is no unity of time or action. There is not one plot, but two plots. The tragic and the comic are also mingled together. The main plot is serious and tragic in tone while the subplot is entirely comic.
Such are the important characteristics of a Shakespearean comedy, and they are all represented by Twelfth Night. There is perfect unity in this romantic comedy. In short we may say that Shakespearean comedies are unrivaled because of their strange blending of pathos and joy, because of their realistic elements and because of their universal appeal.
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