Twelfth Night (or What You Will)

Type: 
Comedy
First Performed: 
1599-1600
First Printed: 
1623
"

Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em.

"

A comedy filled with mistaken identities and voluminous passions, Twelfth Night weaves together the story of sibling twins Viola and Sebastian—separated in their youth during a terrible shipwreck, in which both presumed the other to have died.

As a safety precaution in the unfamiliar land of Illyria, Viola assumes the identity of a man, called Cesario. In this disguise Viola/Cesario finds employment as a page for Duke Orsino. One of her/his tasks is to help Orsino woo the countess Olivia on her/his master's behalf. As she/he secretly finds her/himself falling in love with Orsino, Viola/Cesario is surprised to find that she/he, rather than Orsino, is the object of Olivia's affections. The confusion is made worse when Sebastian appears, easily mistaken for Viola/Cesario, but unaware of any of the tangled love interests.

Amidst this chaos and confusion, a colorful cast of characters—including Olivia's buffoon of a steward named Malvolio, his rival Sir Toby Belch, and others—make matters all the more confusing with their plots and foibles. The Clown Feste observes all with a wise eye and a mischievous heart.

In the end, Viola's true identity is revealed and she not only reunites with her brother but finds her affections for Orsino returned. Sebastian and Olivia are also united and the web of love is untangled.