What points signify that Twelfth Night is a festive comedy?

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Several points signify that Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is a festive comedy.

First of all, this play concerns the romantic entanglements of several young characters in the play and concludes with a resolution of all the confusing elements and three joyous marriage celebrations. These elements in and of themselves satisfy the typical characteristics of a Shakespearean comedy.

As well, this particular Shakespearean comedy is a festive one thanks to the timing of the events around the eve of the Epiphany. This time of celebration was a time of friendly chaos when social expectations were loosened and boisterous behavior was expected. Some events in the play take place late at night, when rules do not exist in the same way as they do during the daytime, and all of the revelry creates an atmosphere of festivity that encourages the pushing of boundaries.

Finally, the presence of fools is noteworthy, as the fools provide music, song, and general silliness that enhance the festive nature of the comedy. Even the names of the fools are funny (Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek), and their antics provide entertainment for both the audience and for other characters in the play.

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"Twelfth Night", the title of this play, refers to the feast of the Epiphany on 6th January, when the wise men were supposed to have given Jesus his gifts. The feast of "Twelfth Night" also had another meaning - it was the last "bash" before the Christmas tree gets taken down and therefore a festival where people were expected to enjoy themselves by drinking, eating and having lots of raucous fun.

So, the title is the play's clearest indication that this is a festive comedy. Also, you might like to look at Act II Scene 3 where Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Augecheek and Feste have a bit of a late-night celebration. Sir Toby at one stage starts singing "On the twelfth day of Christmas". Indeed, you can see Sir Toby Belch as being the spirit of the Twelfth Night celebrations in the play - he refuses to stop partying and drinks and parties to excess. Indeed, he says:

But shall we make the welkin dance indeed? shall we

rouse the night owl in catch that will draw three

souls out of one weaver? Shall we do that?

He therefore is in confrontation with Malvolio, who represents the spirit of Puritanism, decorum and sensibility. Interestingly, the play ends with the end of the licensed excess, with the formalisation of the three unions, and therefore an end to the chaos of the "Twelfth Night" festival.

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