What are the plot and subplot in the Twelfth night and how are they interlinked?


Twelfth Night

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The main-plot of Shakespeare's comedy Twefth Night is the one that concerns the royal life of the Illyrian court--the love-proposals between Orsino and Olivia with the disguised Viola as an interconnector, while the sub-plot or the under-plot concerns the low-life of Illyria---the festivities of Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Maria.

The Renaissance theatre had a general penchant for the double-plots with reflective and contrastive links between them. Here also, the contrastive social strata divide the plots as it were, but as always in Shakespeare there is a unification of the two plots, which in this case might well imply a carnivalesque breakdown of social hierarchy.

It is the festive revelry of the Toby-Andrew-Maria trio that through the gulling-act of Malvolio, that brings together the two plots. Malvolio is a man who wants to promote himself to the royal stratum by marrying Olivia and his deception and unmasking are events that assemble and involve all the characters of the main-plot primarily through the go-between Feste and the disguised Viola.

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