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What was Shakespeare's intention when writing Twelfth Night?What's the mysterious...

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rawane | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted December 9, 2009 at 12:48 AM via web

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What was Shakespeare's intention when writing Twelfth Night?

What's the mysterious important point he wanted to demonstrate;what's the background of the story in general?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted December 10, 2009 at 7:03 AM (Answer #1)

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Romantic comedy had a history in Italy before Shakespeare popularized it in England. Just like Chaucer before him, Shakespeare drew upon sophisticated Italian sources and some French sources for his inspirations and plots. In the case of Twelfth Night, Shakespeare's source was the prose story "Apolonius and Silla" by Barnabe Riche (which also drew on earlier sources).

Shakespeare's literary intention in writing Twelfth Night was to present a romantic comedy that explored the theme of love as excessive; madness; short-lived; true; and inspired by first sight, music and beauty by use of classic character types such as romantic hero, romantic heroine and a "sour character." Malvolio's misfortunes may very well be the culmination of the love as madness theme.

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