TWELFTH NIGHT AS A ROMANTIC COMEDY: DR. HARESHWAR ROY
William Shakespeare is a great playwright.Twelfth Night is one ofe the best romantic comedies by him. It can be compared with the Merchant of Venice, Much Ado about Nothing and As you Like It. It deals with the light and trivial incidents of life. It combines romantic elements with comic elements. It has a happy ending. Happiness through Marriages: Twelfth Night possesses certain features which are common to all romantic comedies of Shakespeare. It is based on love leading to marriage. Almost all the characters are the patients of the same disease - love. The fifth act brings them all happiness through marriage. The Duke gets Viola, Olivia gets Sebastian and Sir Toby feels content with Maria. The entire fifth act echoes with the wedding bells and offers a happy ending.
In Shakespearean romantic comedies female characters play important role. This predominance gives the play an air of romance. In this play the entire story revolves round the two female characters named Viola and Olivia. Even the chief male characters find their significance due to them. Like Rosalind and Celia, Viola and Olivia dominate the whole plot.
Mirth and Laughter:
The atmosphere of the Twelfth Night is full of mirth and laughter. From the beginning to the end the play presents a beautiful love story. When the play opens we find a Duke who is panting for Olivia. Viola in the guise of a boy gets a job with the Duke. She has fallen in love with him, though she keeps it a secret. Since the Duke has a great love for Olivia, he sends Viola to her to plead for him. Viola is good looking and charming. She wins the heart of Olivia. This triangular love makes this play interesting and romantic.
The fifth and final act of the play shows the happy ending. In this act we find Sebastian, the twin brother of Viola. He is very smart. His arrival solves the problem. All mysteries are exposed and almost all the characters get their due share of cheerfulness. This happy ending makes the play highly romantic.
Happy Blending of Fact and Fiction:
A happy blending of fact and fiction is a very important characteristic of the Twelfth Night. The person and the places, the plot and the setting are all imaginary. They have been given romantic touch by William Shakespeare. Some characters like Fest, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Malvolio are humourous characters. They provoke laughter and create a romantic atmosphere in the play.
Music and Song:
Music and song play important role in the comedies of William Shakespeare. They are the keynote of the Twelfth Night. The whole body of the play is studded with songs. In short, the song and music of the play provide this comedy an excellent romantic atmosphere.
To conclude, Twelfth Night is the purest and merriest comedy that Shakespeare wrote ever. Dowden has rightly called this play ‘Joyous, refined and romantic.’
Dr. Hareshwar Roy
About the author:
Dr. Hareshwar Roy, Professor of English at Govt. P.G. College, Satna, Madhy Pradesh, obtained his bachelor and master degrees in English from Patna University Patna, Bihar. He completed his Ph.D. from A.P.S. University Rewa, Madhya Pradesh. His ‘The Diasporic Articulation in the Novels of M.G. Vassanji’ is an incisive book that makes an in-depth study of the novels of M.G. Vassanji who is one of the best known literary members of Indian Diaspora. His research papers (more than 40) have been widely published in reputed literary journals. Currently he is teaching English Literature in Govt. Autonomous P.G. College Satna, Madhya Pradesh. He has attended a number of seminars and conferences. His area of interest is the writing of the writers of Indian diaspora.