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Twelfth Night

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  143,850 ratings  ·  3,077 reviews
Set in a topsy-turvy world like a holiday revel, this comedy devises a romantic plot around separated twins, misplaced passions, and mistaken identity. Juxtaposed to it is the satirical story of a self-deluded steward who dreams of becoming “Count Malvolio” only to receive his comeuppance at the hands of the merrymakers he wishes to suppress. The two plots combine to creat ...more
Paperback, 220 pages
Published July 1st 2004 by Simon Schuster (first published 1601)
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Christine That is an interesting question. I don't think so! If Olivia had a twin, she would not have been so naive as to mix up Sebastian and Viola. Twins know…moreThat is an interesting question. I don't think so! If Olivia had a twin, she would not have been so naive as to mix up Sebastian and Viola. Twins know that game of switching places (although it is not really possible with a male and female.) Still, I get the idea that Olivia was not a twin herself. (less)

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3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  143,850 ratings  ·  3,077 reviews

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May 18, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shakespeare
I wish I could've seen what performances of this play were like in Shakespeare's time. Since women couldn't be on stage, men had to play the women's roles, which means that the guy playing Viola had to also dress up as a man while acting like a woman.
You have to wonder if the audience ever really knew what was going on. I'll bet you anything you like that some form of the following conversation took place in the Globe Theater at one point:
GROUNDLING 1: Wait, wasn't that guy playing a girl? Why'
Nov 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Come Play With Us Danny...
Twins: Freaky or Fun?
Twelfth Night is Shakespeare's answer to that age-old question.


While I was listening to this, I had no idea that Viola & Sebastian were twins. As far as I knew, they were just siblings. But, apparently, they were (<--if I had read the blurb, I would have known this).
And, apparently, it was also easy to pass as a man 400 years ago!
I guess if Gwen could do it (and still find time to write her ever-practical GOOP blog), then I could too!


This is useful to know, in case I
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Dolors by: Face it
“Twelfth night” is probably the most well rounded of all the Shakespearean comedies I have read so far, both for its structure and thematic scope, which is close to the darkest side of his best tragedies.

Evading the somewhat shallow hedonism of his earlier comedies, the perplexed reader encounters a play that is opened with a shipwreck on the coast of the fictional town of Illyria. The twins Viola and Sebastian were onboard of the crashed vessel but they lose sight of each other amidst the chao
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Book Review
4 out of 5 stars to Twelfth Night, a comedy written in 1601 by William Shakespeare. There are more reviews written about Shakespeare than either of us know what to do with, on, over or about. So you're not getting a review from me. What I will say is the following: Love him or not, the man can create brilliant plots and characters. Twins. Mistaken identities. Tomfoolery. Witchcraft. A chain of "who's on first" when it comes to which character is in love with which other character.
Bill  Kerwin
May 12, 2007 rated it really liked it

The treatment of Malvolio is a little too cruel, Belch and Aguecheek are a little too coarse, and the resolution is a little too abrupt, and so this excellent Shakespearean comedy falls a little short of perfection.

Still, the poetry about music and the songs themselves are wonderful, Viola and Orsino are charming, and Feste is the wisest and best of clowns.
Ahmad Sharabiani
Twelfth Night; or, What You Will, William Shakespeare
Twelfth Night, or What You Will is a comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written around 1601–02 as a Twelfth Night's entertainment for the close of the Christmas season. The play centres on the twins Viola and Sebastian, who are separated in a shipwreck. Viola (who is disguised as Cesario) falls in love with Duke Orsino, who in turn is in love with the Countess Olivia. Upon meeting Viola, Countess Olivia falls in love with her
Henry Avila
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Now a strange, astonishing thing or two , happened, off the west coast of the Balkans, ( Illyria), in an undetermined age, aristocratic, identical twins, a boy and a girl, well around twenty, give or take a few years, were lost at sea, shipwrecked by a powerful storm. Presumed drowned by the other surviving sibling, both saw their relative in an untenable situation. But this being a play, the twins keep on breathing, reaching the beautiful, dry, glorious beach, with separate help from out of the ...more
Jan 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Reading Shakespeare is almost like going down into the basement of literature and examining the foundations.

So often I find the origins of what has become trite and overdone, and yet Shakespeare was the fountain from which so much springs. This is especially true of Twelfth Night, it is apparent that so many comedies and romances over the centuries were heavily influenced by this play.

Very entertaining.

Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.”

This was fun. The thing is that comedies are always more fun on a stage. Ultimately, so are tragedies.
Shakespeare created a hilarious story of love, confusion and foolishness. There is a lot of genderbending and cross-dressing and homosexualitating (yes, I know that is not a word). Quite a queer tale. And in the end, everything and everybody is set straight and does not marry below their own station. A bit
Joe Valdez
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
December 31, 2017 review

My return to the world of William Shakespeare and my favorite play--though I find Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing to be superior dramatically, neither are as romantic or riotously funny as this--brought me back to my first reread on Goodreads and Twelfth Night. Work on my novel ground to a halt several weeks ago at the halfway mark and I wanted to return to a couple of texts that remind me of why I'm a writer. I also noticed that as of December 30, I was one book short
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
I really didn’t expect to like this. Most comedy is wasted on me, but Shakespearean comedy is just so damn funny. Reading this play is only half the picture. I think this is a play that really must be seen in performance as well. I watched a DvD version of the recent globe production and I was practically rolling on my living room floor with laughter. It had an all-male cast, which just made it even better. Mark Rylance as Olivia was just pure comic genius, and Stephen Fry as Malvolio was just a ...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
So this one doesn't rank terribly high on the believability scale, but this is still my favorite Shakespeare comedy. It's absurd to have a set of fraternal twins -- brother and sister! -- who look so much alike that people who know them reasonably well can't tell them apart. Shakespeare may not have been entirely clear on the distinction between identical and fraternal twins or, more likely, he just didn't care. But push the Disbelief Suspension button here and just go have fun with this love tr ...more
Samra Yusuf
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: play
Twelfth night being the last comedy of William Shakespeare, is highly acclaimed and panned at equal measures. We come to peruse and praise his literary genius through his artistic handling of different themes packed in one play. On the surface, the play exhibits traces of mistaken identity, deception, Lovesickness, melancholy, desire and abundance, gender and sex, master and servant, but on the broader canvass, the colors are more vivid and glaring laden with undercurrent meanings of these theme ...more
Sep 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: language
A few years ago I read a review of some film that had come out and I was sure I would never see – read the review almost carelessly while flicking through the arts section of the paper on a Saturday morning, no, I must have been clicking over The Age Home Page. The woman who wrote the review commented that whatever the film was had been based on Twelfth Night – which she considered that most ridiculous of Shakespeare’s plays – she really could not see how anyone could be bothered to reproduce th ...more
Whitney Atkinson
I liked the dialogue in this one a lot more than the first one we read for class (A Comedy of Errors). I love the whole "girl poses as a guy in order to trick misogynists into letting her participate in their society" trope, and I just in general loved Olivia and Viola as characters, so I was super into this. My only complaint is that the ending wraps up too swiftly for me and a few of the plotlines were just kinda smooshed into one grand finale, but I was left wanting more.

Not the best Shakesp
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Twelfth Night is the first Shakespearean play I read. I was too young to appreciate Shakespeare at that time but I still remember liking it very much. So when I decide to return to reading Shakespeare once again, it was natural for me to begin with Twelfth Night. To my greater disappointment I felt something vacant and bare in the play. I just couldn’t believe it is the same play that I used to like so much. I don’t if it is due to the edition that I read or my mood at the time of reading. S ...more
May 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
She’s The Man is better than its source material,” I say into the mic.

The crowd boos. I begin to walk off in shame, when a voice speaks and commands silence from the room.

“She’s right,” they say. I look for the owner of the voice. There in the 3rd row he stands: Willie Shakes himself.


Let me break it down for you: Orsino is in love with Olivia, despite the fact that he has never seen her. Malvolio thinks Olivia is in love with him, Sir Andrew thinks he can marry Olivia. Sebastian agrees to ma
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
second time reading it and still a great play! I always enjoy Shakespeare's comedies but this one seems to feel especially humorous to me

this was pretty great! I've never read this play by Shakespeare and I thoroughly enjoyed it for the hyjinks and craziness that happened! I loved the fact that thoroughout the majority of this play, since there were not very many female actresses in SP's time, there is a boy, dressing up as a girl, who is dressing up as a boy. Pretty funny st
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: the queers, and I hope that means you
Shelves: 2018
Some of these people, my gosh, Janelle Monae and Frank Ocean and Emma Gonzalez, they seem to have moved altogether past gender, right? Oh brave new world. And here's Shakespeare, who once again is meeting us in the future.

Let’s get to it: in Elizabethan times, female parts on the stage were played by men, so we’re starting with cross-dressing. Shakespeare was inspired and amused by this, and he often plays with it. Twelfth Night is the best example, and one of his most enduring comedies. Here’s
Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)
4 Stars


"Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them."

While not his most well-known work, The Twelfth Night is certainly one of my favorite works by Shakespeare. I've always enjoyed his comedies more than his tragedies, and this one was filled with his trademark wit and crazy situations


Shakespeare loved him some wordplay, and as always, it's masterful. The jokes were quick and hilarious, while still reveali
"If you be not mad, be gone; if you have reason, be brief."
- William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night


I liked it, but didn't love it.

Positives: I always like Shakespeare's gender benders. The Bard enjoys not playing characters straight. He doesn't want a love story or even a love triangle, Shakespeare wants to explore all the tangents, the lines, and the angles of love's many geometries. He is a great experimenter of the human soul. He is the Faraday of romance, unsatisfied until he has teased out all
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
A play that can really come alive when staged, as opposed to read. As with many of Shakespeare's comedies, there's lots of frivolity and crazy fun, undergirded with some darker themes.
Nov 24, 2012 rated it liked it
You know what? I think this play is the Shakespearean equivalent of Three’s Company, a laugh-track comedy with goofball characters and preposterous situations that trigger a chain of events you can see coming a mile away. We’re talking here about a play in which a woman masquerades as a man (pretty much for the hell of it), deceiving everyone into believing she’s a dude without testes—because how else do you, in the absence of injectable testosterone products, convince people you’re a dude other ...more
باز هم جا به جا شدن شخصيت ها با هم! كم كم دارم به اين نتيجه مى رسم كه شكسپير فقط همين يك ايده رو براى نمايش كمدى داشته و توى همه ى نمايش هاى كمدى ش از همين ايده استفاده كرده.

I'm glad I read this in class because I wouldn't have gotten much out of it otherwise. Shakespeare may be Shakespeare, but I am also I, and I know my tastes well enough to have before reading this thought "Bro I love certain pieces of your work but I'm fairly certain this is not going to have a honeymoon ending." Comedies tend to make me nervous with their glee and their joy and their soap bubble ideologies, and while the playwright did some wonderfully complex things with gender and the tr
Maloja Snake
Πιο πολύ και απο την ιδια την ιστορία ξεχωρίζει το χιούμορ και η ειρωνεία του ποιητή. Ανεκδιήγητες φάρσες και ερωτικά μπερδέματα, δηλητηριώδεις και παιχνιδιάρικες ατάκες αποτελούν τον πυρήνα του θεατρικού αυτού. Θα ήταν πολύ ενδιαφέρον αν δινόταν περισσότερος χρόνος στον υποτιθέμενο τραβεστισμό της Βιόλα που ντύνεται Σεζάριο για να εισχωρήσει στην αυλή του Δούκα Όρσινο, προκειμένου να εξασφαλίσει την επιβίωση της. Όμως ο Όρσινο είναι ερωτευμένος με την Ολίβια η οποία πενθεί τον χαμό του αδερφού ...more
One of my book resolutions this year is to read more classics, including some of Shakespeare's plays. Shockingly, I've only read a couple, but ironically I read Twelfth Night at the tender age of 14 as part of my year 9 English class. I wanted to see how much I remembered etc. Surprising, not much.

Basically Viola and her brother Sebastian are involved in a shipwreck, washing up on the shores of Illyria. Both think the other is dead, and Viola dresses up as a bloke to protect her honour or whate
Jan 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Comedies are never my favorites of Shakespeare, though this was quite a delightful reading for Yule. A bit silly and nonsensical does make it fanciful and worked well for me. Honestly, Shakespeare is one of those things that I think is infinitely better in performance than reading, especially the comedies.

It was between Twelfth Night and A Winter's Tale--I chose this one. I suppose I'll save A Winter's Tale for next Yule and finally read the bloodbath that is Titus Andronicus. Onwards!
Nov 17, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, drama
This is a fun play. Not my favorite. Makes me want to watch She's the Man.
Roy Lotz
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Twelfth Night is a frenetic comedy of tomfoolery and excess. Everything is purposefully ridiculous—a satire of previously written farces, reveling in itself. While in As You Like It Shakespeare gives us, for once, a genuinely convincing picture of love, in Twelfth Night he is back to his old sardonic ways. Shakespeare was perhaps as cynical as Proust or Freud on the subject of love, since he seems to savor its arbitrariness. Olivia falls in love with Viola on false pretences, and then easily tra ...more
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William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been tr ...more
“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” 14947 likes
“If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.”
More quotes…