A List of Original and Outstanding Twelfth Night Essay Topics

Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night; or, What You Will" is a romantic comedy believed to have been written between 1601 and 1602 for the close of the Christmas season as celebrated for the entertainment and festivities in February. The play was published in 1623 in what is known as the First Folio. The play focuses around the twins Sebastian and Viola who have been separated by shipwreck, and their love affairs involving Countess Olivia. The countess falls in love with Viola, who has disguised herself, while Sebastian falls in love with Olivia. The play uses what is now commonly referred to as "Love Triangle" a extremely popular trope of Elizabethan drama. Writing papers about it is quite enjoyable as there are endless topics to explore. Here are some original and outstanding essay topics for you to choose from:

  1. Discuss the use of disguises and how it affects the way we perceive characters. How did this change, or not change, the way we take costume into consideration of character personalization?
  2. What role does mistaken identity play in the Twelfth Night? Who gets mistaken for whom and what do these instances of mistaken identity signify?
  3. How does the play depict romantic love? What do you believe Shakespeare is trying to make a point with in his use of romance?
  4. What role does Malvolio have in the Twelfth Night? Is his fate fair or unfair? Does it fit the romantic theme of the rest? If not, why would Shakespeare have included it?
  5. What function do the comic roles of Sir Andrew, Sir Toby, Feste, and Maria play? How are each different from the rest?
  6. How does Shakespeare use the fate of Antonio and Malvolio to bring some ambiguous touches to an otherwise happy ending?
  7. Does the play explore themes of sexual disconnect in any way? And can we pick up on those themes in dialogue more so than setting?
  8. Make a comparison between Orsino and Olivia. How do their attitudes about strong emotions differ from one another? How are they the same?
  9. The Twelfth Night, as many don't recall, is a festival that has an extremely appreciated as things get turned upside down. Reverse roles have been appreciated in many theatre arenas. What can be learned?
  10. What function does ambiguous gender role play in the Twelfth Night? How does it lead to confusing love lives?

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