Illyria as a World of Its Own in Twelfth Night Essay

1748 WordsFeb 5, 20137 Pages
“Comedy is not a drama with the addition of laughs. It is a world of its own.” To what extent is Illyria a ‘world of its own’ and what is its importance in Twelfth Night? Many comedy critics claim that the difference between a comedy and a drama is the presentation of emotion in the ending. In the case of a comedy, the ending is jovial where all issues are resolved and life is a happy one. A drama, on the other hand, ends… dramatically, often with death but also other melancholy themes. In the body of the play however, both can include the same events and mishaps, presented in different manners: comically or dramatically. The importance of these different presentations is paramount in differentiating between the two entirely opposite genres. Illyria is the mystical land Shakespeare has fabricated to encompass the nonsensical antics of Twelfth Night and its characters. It could be described as a ‘green world’, a term coined by Northrop Frye in 1957, in regard to Shakespearean settings, that describes their extra-ordinary qualities. Things happen in a green world that would otherwise seem odd or out of place in any other society. It is this that is Illyria’s most unique quality: the fact that the most unorthodox, outlandish and eccentric characters thrive in its borders. It is almost ironic that the characters experience so much freedom in Illyria to go about how they please, yet can only have access to this liberty in the confines of the land in which they dwell. All the points made claiming Illyria is a ‘world of its own’ stem from one idea: Illyria is often described as being ‘topsy-turvy’, meaning backwards, upside down, and completely antithetic to a seemingly ordinary society, like Elizabethan London. This essay will discuss how unique Illyria is and how this plays a large part in the presentation of attitudes and characters in the play. The first aspect

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