Elements of Shakespeare Comedies - Twelfth Night

Updated: 4/6/2020
Elements of Shakespeare Comedies - Twelfth Night
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Shakespeare Comedies Lesson Plans

Types of Shakespeare Plays

By Rebecca Ray and Kristy Littlehale

No matter what they were named, William Shakespeare’s plays would still be great works of art, so it may not matter what we call them. Generally though, Shakespeare wrote three types of plays: Tragedy, Comedy, and History. These names help us understand the archetypes of a play and better analyze its events. After all, The Comedy of Romeo and Juliet would be a very different play from The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Perhaps it would be a farce about two star-crossed lovers, doomed to suffer humorous mistakes of identity and bumbling servants. It wouldn’t be the story of woe we are all so familiar with.

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Storyboard Description

Elements of Shakespeare Comedies - Twelfth Night

Storyboard Text

  • Shakespearean Comedies
  • Shakespeare's comedies are characterized by: Comedic Language Love Obstacles Mistaken Identities Excessive Plot Twists Marriage or Reunion
  • Plot Twist
  • Mistaken Identity
  • Examples from Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
  • Love Obstacles
  • One plot twist is when the audience learns that Sebastian survived the shipwreck.
  • Comedic Language Through Motifs
  • Viola dresses up as a man named Cesario to get work in the Duke's court. Being a twin, she looks a lot like her brother, Sebastian.
  • Marriage and / or Reunion
  • The Duke falls in love with Olivia, who ends up marrying Sebastian; however, it all changes when he learns Cesario is really Viola.
  • Gender-bending is a common motif, as well as misdirected love. Olivia loves Cesario, "Cesario" loves the Duke, and the Duke loves Olivia.
  • Love Triangle
  • The twin siblings are reunited. Sebastian marries Olivia and the Duke marries Viola.