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Word Count: 3,881
Plays are one of the most subtle forms of literature while a novel reveals almost everything in its text and description much of a play depends on the matter between the lines or the behavior and interpretation of the actors who play the roles And these influences are invisible unless we examine the context of the play its sources the circumstances of its composition and performance Shakespeares Twelfth Night is one such play in examining the works Shakespeare drew on to write the play and evidence about his audience we can reconstruct many of his intentions in this variegated comedy Shakespeares main source and certainly his most accessible is the prose tale of Apolonius and Silla in Barnabe Riches Riche his Farewell to Militarie Profession 1581 Yet Apolonius and Silla itself has sources which Shakespeare may have been able to peruse The earliest apart from the Plautine Menaechmi the origin of many a mistaken-identity plot including Shakespeares own Comedy of Errors is the Italian GlIngannati The Deceived Ones written and performed at Siena by the Academy of the Intronati in 1531 Shakespeare may well have read that plot he knew some Latin after all so Italian would not have been too much of a stretch or at least its French incarnation in the author Pierre de Belleforests Histoires Tragiques part IV no 59 1570 Henry V IIIiv certainly proves a passing acquaintance with French But Shakespeares reading list is far less important than what he did with his discoveries GlIngannati is quite a different work from Twelfth Night more Plautine farce than romantic comedy But the similarities and differences between the two do much to reveal the aims of Shakespeares play The siblings Fabrizio and Lelia are separated during the sack of Rome in 1527 when Lelia is thirteen years old a likely source for Violas father who died that day that made my sister thirteen years TN Vi240 Three years
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