Deception And Evil In Shakespeare's Twelfth Night By William Shakespeare

1200 Words 5 Pages
Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare, explores the effects of deception and trickery. Shakespeare’s characters are unaware the world they see is an illusion. Shakespeare sets the stage for a comedic adventure through Illyria starring conspiracy and intrigue. Niccolò Machiavelli, on the other hand, is attempting to shed light on how politics works in the world through The Prince. Machiavelli presents disturbing truths about the behavior of humanity, thus earning himself sinister notoriety. Shakespeare implements some of these truths into his work. So, to what extent is Twelfth Night a Machiavellian play? Throughout Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, his characters portray qualities a prince would possess according to Machiavelli, which reflects …show more content…
Olivia states Feste, is but “a dry fool” and he “grow[s] dishonest” (1.5.39-40). She fails to see past the charade Feste has been putting on for all the characters. The only one who sees past this farce is Viola, who believes Feste “is wise enough to play the fool” (3.1.61). She alone sees Feste as a wise man acting like a fool. Therefore, Viola and Feste are the most Machiavellian characters in terms of ability to deceive those around them. In continuation of the role of deception in Twelfth Night, Machiavelli argues “he who deceives will always find someone who will let himself be deceived” (The Prince, 70). Shakespeare embodies this idea in Maria and Feste who are foxes in a Machiavellian sense. Maria exploits Malvolio’s “vices” to have her “revenge find notable cause to work” (2.3.152-153). She manipulates Malvolio, who is not a Machiavellian fox, into a trap that humiliates and tortures him (4.2). As a reward for her Machiavellian mischievous, Maria marries Sir Toby because he loves her jokes …show more content…
Machiavelli believes a successful prince requires Fortune to be on their side. He personifies Fortune as a woman, a woman who “lets herself be won more by the impetuous,” and who is a “friend of the young” (The Prince, 101). Shakespeare depicts this idea through Viola and Olivia. Orsino expects Olivia to treat his proposals of love “better in [Viola’s] youth / Than in a nuncio’s of more grave aspect” (1.4.27-28). This perfectly embodies Machiavelli’s beliefs as Olivia plays the role of Fortune who young Viola/Cesario wins

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