Usually, when we hear Shakespeare’s name, first thing we imagine in our mind is Romeo and Juliet. It does not matter whether a person thought at this moment about Leonardo DiCaprio and his unforgettable performance in musical based on William Shakespeare’s famous work or about tragedy itself. William Shakespeare was always trying to be different, writing not only plays. However, he became famous mostly for writing them. After all, all of us associate Shakespeare with England, his place of birth, and his well-known tragedy. But one should not forget that besides tragedies, Shakespeare was very good in writing really funny and well-written comedies. Less popular but no less great and unique is his romantic comedy Twelfth Night. As Romeo and Juliet plot is in most cases well-known by everyone, first, it is worth reminding the summary of the precise comedy that the essay reviews.
Poor, suffering Viola, after losing her contact with a twin brother Sebastian, whom she considers dead, turns into a man, introducing herself as Cesario. After that, she decides to help the captain, which has rescued her, and comes to serve him. Then, we meet another character, Orsino, who is in love with Olivia. Orsino asks Cesario to help him to court and make this woman fall in love with him. However, Olivia, believing that Cesario is actually a handsome man, falls in love with him instead. The funny thing here is that there is also a Duke among Olivia’s courters, and Viole, who introduces herself as a man, falls in love with this Duke. Unfortunately, Duke sees Viola -“Cesario” just as his intimate true friend. In addition, the comic part in this romantic comedy is that Olivia’s uncle, her servants, and another husband-to-be – they all think that Olivia is truly and deeply in love with her steward. Because of that, Olivia’s uncle Sir Toby and another husband-to-be plan their revenge on the steward, whose name is Malvolio. They give Malvolio a letter, a love one, written by the servant Maria. The letter looks like a letter written by Olivia, in which it was said that his lady is in love with Malvolio. Of course, Malvolio is happy and delighted. He starts courting and chasing Olivia, and the lady, shocked by her servant’s behavior, asks her uncle and husband-to-be to lock Malvolio somewhere. Later, Malvolio learns about Sir Toby and Sir Andrew’s plan, and it enrages him. He wants to take the revenge on them now too. Meantime, Sebastian, Viola’s twin brother, who is considered dead but, in fact, rescued by some captain, appears. This is where all confusions about understanding who is who begin. After all, when Viola and Sebastian meet Olivia and Duke, the last ones see how similar twins are. Viola has to tell the truth after this revelation and she tells that she believed her brother was long lost and dead. At the end of this great romantic comedy, Viola marries to Duke, and Toby, Olivia’s uncle, is married with Maria. The happy end is obvious.
Romantic comedy and love tragedy – these two plays do not seem to have similar features. However, in both works, there are things that share certain similarities.
First similarity that can be distinguished in both these plays by William Shakespeare is, of course, the place of plot action – Italy. Illyria and Verona – both places are situated on the Italian coast. Lots of scientists believe that at some point, Shakespeare visited Italy. It wasn’t also the coincidence that William was in love with Italian sonnet. Some of the scientists even thought that Shakespeare was Sicilian himself. He seemed to be very fond of Italian culture, Italian literature, Italian traditions, and Italy in whole. So, it is not a surprise that the actions of two of his greatest plays took place exactly in Italy.
The second similarity, which is worth mentioning, between Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet, lies at some point in its misunderstanding of play roles and plot. For example, in the comedy Twelfth Night this misunderstanding is innocent, with conflicts, but not deep or distressed ones. Here, we have protagonist but not a tragic one, while in Romeo and Juliet we have exactly tragic heroes and with those tragic unfortunate events that are coming from the bad tragic ideas, expressed by this very hero. Tragic character faces the nobility and unbelievable strength that he is carrying through these unfortunate events. This is a very important thing in tragedy – the hero has to be a strong personality so that he can bring that strength to the plot.
The third similarity is the love theme. There is no such deep emotion as love. It can be as inspirational as destructive. Friendship, strong family ties – it all comes from love seed. In both Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet, there are lots of conflicts, but all of them are mostly based on love: love in romantic comedy and love in romantic tragedy. Characters in both plays are suffering from love. Because of this, one of the greatest feelings successfully undergoes all lies, conflicts, arguing, misunderstandings, broken friendships, family bonds, and broken hearts. Moreover, if in Romeo and Juliet we have one main love story, In Twelfth Night we have more than one. These are: Olivia, who is deeply suffering from love and everything caused by it; and Viola, who in her wishing to be loved mutually, has to pretend that she is a man, which deceives an innocent Olivia’s heart. Viola is suffering from love too. The greatest feeling, love, in Shakespeare’s romantic comedy is coming from pure hearts, who adore just the thought of love and being loved. In this romantic comedy, everyone loves deeply with all their hearts and souls. There is no physical love but only a feeling from the bottom of the innocent heart. However, if to talk about love in Shakespeare’s most famous romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet, this feeling is deeply beautiful yet destructive. Here we have not only a deep spiritual feeling but also a physical love between two young innocent souls. In Romeo and Juliet,Shakespeare shows us the tragic fate that arose from love seed; he shows how this strong feeling can crash and even kill. Nevertheless, in the end, which is the most important, love conquers everything. Though main characters were separated first and were only united in death, which is unbelievably tragic; in the end, exactly love of these two united both families and ended an eternal fight and hate between Montague and Capulet. Two star crossed lovers were meant to meet each other, to love each other, and then die to unite great clans.
All in all, it does not matter whether it is the comparison of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy Twelfth Night with his romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet or the comparison of some other his, at first sight seeming fully different works. The great poet and playwright, English dramatist will always stay one of the greatest figures, who influenced the works of many famous writers, such as Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, and the greatest writer in the world theatrical art and world literature.