Twelfth Night Deception Analysis

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In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Machiavelli’s The Prince, deception is a tool that one uses to gain a personal advantage. Despite the negative connotation that is typically associated with deception, Twelfth Night and The Prince demonstrate how deception can bring a positive outcome. If one employs a deceptive appearance under necessary circumstances, the end result must be justifiable, even when a majority of people are willingly deceived.
Characterized by her beauty and resourcefulness, Viola is the most blatant embodiment of deception in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Altering her appearance in order to ensure her safety, Viola seeks help from a sea captain to obscure her identity: “Conceal me what I am, and be my aid / For such disguise as haply shall become / The form of my intent” (1.3.53-55). Viola
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Amid a mass of confusion, a majority of the incomprehension comes to a resolution when Viola reveals her feminine identity: “I am Viola; which to confirm, / I’ll bring you to a captain in this town, / Where lie my maiden weeds” (5.1.253-255). After maintaining a deceptive appearance for an extended period of time, Viola confesses to her deception and requests to reclaim her femininity by dressing in standard female attire. Following this big reveal, Olivia comes to understand that she has recently married Viola’s twin brother, Sebastian, instead of Cesario, but Sebastian assures her that nature fixed everything: “So comes it, lady, you have been mistook. / But nature to her bias drew in that” (5.1.259-260). Viola’s pursuit of the Duke Orsino also comes to a close in the final scene when Orsino announces that he will make Viola his wife. Early on in the play Viola expressed doubt, saying, “Disguise, I see thou art a wickedness” (2.3.27), but what once was a disorder of complex relationships resolves itself in the closing

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