Key themes

A heart signifying love, a trophy for ambition and a face half in disguise for appearance and reality.

Twelfth Night was traditionally a day of celebration when everything was turned on its head. People would dress up, often swapping social roles, dance and drink the night away. Even though it is a comedy, based on a day of partying, Twelfth Night still deals with some serious themes. Romantic love, family love and even the love of love are all presented, as is the question of appearance and reality. The foolishness of ambition is shown through the actions of Olivia’s steward Malvolio and the cross-dressing Viola/Cesario makes us think about the importance of gender.

The main themes in Twelfth Night are:

  • love
  • appearance and reality
  • ambition