This post may be more for me than for you as I work my way through Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Actually I am only reading the introductory notes to the play at the moment, of which there seem to be many. As there are five acts, I am hoping to read one act each day this week. My original plan had been to read this during the holidays as twelfth night refers to the twelve days after the Christmas season--the time between holiday and partymaking and getting back to the normal "workaday" world.
Normally I hate knowing the plot before reading anything, but in the case of Shakespeare the more I know ahead of time the better. The play is set in Illyria at the court of Duke Orsino and the estate of Lady Olivia. This is a comedy, so I am told that I can expect lovelorn characters trying to get together and many complications along the way. I think I'm going to like Lady Olivia. She's presented as an independent and powerful not to mention wealthy woman due to the deaths of her father and brother. Her status in society makes her attractive and she has a number of suitors including the Duke. I love some of these character names--Sir Toby Belch is a relative of Lady Olivia and Sir Andrew Aguecheek is one of her pursuers. Into the mix are thrown two well-born twins, Viola and Sebastian who have been shipwrecked. Each thinks the other didn't survive. Viola passes herself off as a page (Cesario) at Orsino's court who sends her/him to Lady Olivia as his personal envoy. Of course Lady Viola is going to fall for him/her. Similarly Sebastian is irresistible to his own rescuer.
Shakespeare certainly loved to play with language, didn't he. I guess that is the beauty in his work, but it's also the challenge. At least it is for me. First there's the general problem with words that are either no longer used or the meaning has completely changed in the last 400 years. Then there is the difficulty of how he liked to flip his sentence structure around. He apparently did this to create the right poetic rhythm. I don't really have a problem with switching subjects and verbs, but when he interrupts the regular sentence structure "delaying the main sentence elements" I tend to get lost in all the extra meaning. Thankfully the sentence structure in Twelfth Night is fairly straightforward. But I do get to look forward to the use of puns (lots of those in this play) and metaphors. Thank goodness for the text notes which will be on the opposite page of the play. By the way all this is a lead up to watching the play. I know my library has this version and perhaps a few others.
Whew. Now that I have all this straight. On with the play. I'll let you know next Sunday how everything went!