I keep thinking about the ending of Twelfth Night. I realize that Shakespeare emphasizes the underlying tragedy in a comedic play, but I think the play could have ended differently. The play has underlying tragedy, as suggested in class, many of the characters experience both please and pain.
There is balance between happiness experienced and some type of pain or suffering.
- Upset by the (supposed) loss of her brother in a shipwreck
- Falling in love with Orsino, potentially marrying him (ending)
- Deception by Cesario/Sebastian who he thinks stole away Olivia
- Falling in love with Cesario/Viola
- Shipwreck- which leads to friendship with Antonio
- Marrying Olivia
- Reunited with his sister
- Friendship with Sebastian
- Ends up alone, no love connections
- Feels betrayed by Sebastian, but the real person deceiving is Cesario who has never met him
- Loss of her brother
- Falling in love with Cesario/Marrying Sebastian
- Tricks Sir Andrew into thinking that Olivia loves him
- Marries Maria
- Deceived by Sir Andrew; he is lead to believe Olivia returns his affections
- Used to fund the partying and fun the group participates in
- Joke played on him, to make him think Olivia (who he is in love with) has feelings for him
- Locked up because he is thought to be mad
- Truth comes out; there seems to be no consequences for the foul treatment
- Ends up alone; wishes to seek revenge- extremely unhappy
Identity, disguise and misleading others are a common theme throughout the play. These concepts are closely linked to the tragedy experiences by the characters. Malvolio is constantly deceived throughout the play, and does not end happily.
I think a suitable alternative ending could be a happier ending for Malvolio.
Olivia could have punished her servants for their torturous behavior towards Malvolio. She could have expressed more of a concern for the deception that had been occurring behind her back, and under her roof. After this scene, Olivia could conveniently had a sister come to visit. Her sister would look identically to Olivia. She would fall in love with Malvolio, and he would transfer his affections to her instead of Olivia because Olivia’s sister would truly appreciate him. This would avenge the horrific behavior that he experienced throughout the play. Malvolio would be consumed with happiness and would forget his plan of vengeance.
This would play on the consistent themes of identity, and similarities of siblings. Cesario and Sebastian are identical. Also, Shakespeare would create a clever name for Olivia’s sister. (However, I am not as good as word play)
Although Shakespeare leaves the audience to use their imagination, I think this would be a more suitable ending to the play.