Twelfth Night Critics

C.L. barber- the clown “The clown or vice… was a recognised anarchist who made aberration obvious by carrying release to absurd extremes”
C.L. Barber- comedy “From release through to clarification”
Emma Smith- Feste “His role is to point out the truths other characters don’t want to hear”
Kiernan Ryan- Feste “Feste embodies the transcendent perspective from which Twelfth Night and other Shakespearean comedy is written”
Michael Dobson- Malvolio “The play is offering a glimpse not just of comic sexual self-delusion but of a potentially subversive upwards mobility”
Charles Lamb- Malvolio “Malvolio is not essentially ridiculous… he becomes comic by accident”
Carol Thomas Needy- Malvolio “Malvolio serves as a scapegoat who is punished for flaws others share”
Marion Gibson- Malvolio “All three Malvolio baiters seek to allay their anxieties about the pervasiveness of social mobility for they themselves exemplify such mobility”
Ivo Kamps- Malvolio “The repressed Malvolio is perfectly sane by Illyrian standards”, but the plot makes him perform his “madness”
Michael Dobson- comedy The whole of Twelfth Night debates the very nature and morality of comedy”
Miranda Fay Thomas- gender “Twelfth Night depicts one’s gender as essentially a performed role”
Jan Kott- homosexual desire “The desire of Orsino for his page, of Olivia for a woman, and of Antonio for his young master, is not ‘confined’ in marriage resolutions”
John Mullan- gender The all male cast “becomes a kind of artistic freedom, enabling the characters to switch their sexual identity”
C. L. Barber- gender (long) “Just as a saturnalian reversal of social roles need not threaten the social structure, but can serve instead to consolidate it, so a temporary, playful reversal of sexual roles can renew the meaning of the normal relation.”
C. L. Barber- gender (short) “Twelfth Night inverts sexual and gender roles ultimately to re-establish and confirm normal relations”
German Greer- gender “The inconstancy of men and the solidity and truth of women”
Dympna Callaghan- gender “A prime example of the exclusion of the female body in the male impersonation of their personages”
Valerie Traub- Viola “It is as the object of another women’s desire that Cesario finds her own erotic voice”
Amy Smith- Olivia “When she stage manages her own marriage choices… Olivia remodels the economic exchange of maidenhood”
Hudson Shakespeare company- Orsino “Though he is a humorous figure, a parody of melancholy lovers… he also displays aspects of a psychological disorder”
Miranda Fay Thomas- disguise “Twelfth Night reminds us that identity itself is relative”
Herschel Baker- Orsino “Duke Orsino is a narcissistic fool”
Michael Dobson- disguise “Twelfth Night is very much a play about the potential hazards of dressing up”
Michael Dobson- conflict/ social class “With its dramatisation of the antagonism between hedonistic, alcoholic and gluttonous sir Toby Belch and the puritanical steward who longs to discipline him, it is also very much a play about the social implications of festivity”
R. S. White- conflict “Twelfth Night has sometimes been seen as enacting a struggle between an anti- comic Malvolio and comic Feste, with the latter victorious on the bahalf of the forces of festivity”
C. L. Barber- social class “The energy usually occupied in maintaining inhibition is freed for celebration”
Kiernan Ryan- social class “The raucous conduct of the tipsy triumvirate violates the fundamental principles on which the decorum of everyday social life depends: the Manor House of a lady is transformed into an alehouses; her uncle and sir Andrew, both knights of the realm, stand hierarchy on its head by acting like common tinkers and cobblers; the still of the night becomes the tie for uproar instead of peaceful sleep; and rational, responsible behaviour gives way to bedlam”
Stanivokvic- conflict between ideas “A cultural shift from chivalric to romantic maculinity”
Kiernan Ryan- loss “The spectre of death haunts the romantic protagonists lives from the start”
Simon Gray- Antonio “Lingers in the memory to remind us that Illyria is after all an illusion that has been fashioned out of much potential, and some actual, pain”
Kiernan Ryan- Sir Toby “Sir Toby’s misrule is customary of the Twelfth Night festival”
C. L. Barber- sir Toby “He lives at his ease, enjoying heritage… celebrates what he has without having to deserve it”
Ian judge- madness “Twelfth Night also shows the comedy of love which occurs when people turn themselves inside out and almost reach the edge of madness”
Charles spencer- comedy “Twelfth Night is the darkest and most haunting of Shakespeare’s great comedies, its humour constantly shadowed by cruelty and a keen awareness of mortality”
Jan Kott “Illyria is a country of exotic madness”
John Caird- Viola “By the end of the play, she is more sexually completed than she was before”
Kiernan Ryan- disguise “Viola’s performance as Cesario in this sense a metaphor for what all the characters in Twelfth Night are up to… passing themselves off as whoever they are supposed to be by playing parts that don’t coincide with them”

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