In case you missed it, I'm teaming up with Alyssa of Books Take You Places for Bard in the Blogs! Alyssa and I share a mutual love for William Shakespeare and his work, so we decided it would be an excellent idea to celebrate with a little blog event. I'm so thrilled to have so many wonderful people guest posting on both my blog and Alyssa's blog, so a big thank you goes out to those who volunteered to share with us! I hope you enjoy all the posts (and look out for the giveaway too)! Today's post is by Carlisa of Confessions by Carlisa. She's going to be comparing Twelfth Night and She's the Man.
I read the Twelfth Night for the first time my sophomore year of high school. We had an extra reading list that we had to pick from and when I found out the movie She’s the Man is based on Twelfth Night, I picked it immediately.
“What?” you may ask incredulously. “The hilarious She’s the Man is based on a Shakespeare play?” And I would reply with a nod and a knowing smile on my face, “Yes, my friends. Yes, it is.”
Now I know you’re pretty shocked, but let me give you a heads up. This post will contain some spoilers of both the movie and the play, so if you’re haven’t seen/read them…get out now. Just kidding, you’re completely welcome. But then go watch/read them. Okay, here we go.
First of all, Shakespeare knows how to write a comedy. This play is hilarious. I’ve read it multiple times and it has me laughing out loud every time. If you feel like maybe you’re not a Shakespeare person, try this one. It’s short and sweet and super funny.
The premise is that two twins, Viola and Sebastian, are shipwrecked and land in a place called Illyria. Viola lands to find herself alone and her brother dead. She pretends to be a boy so that she can work for the Duke Orsino as his pageboy. He mostly sends Viola to profess his undying love for Olivia, a woman who is currently grieving over the loss of her brother. Olivia vehemently refuses him but on these errands of love, she finds herself attracted to the young, sweet boy Orsino sends (Uh-oh). Likewise, while Orsino declares his love for Olivia, Viola secretly falls in love with Orsino (love triangle to the max). Meanwhile, Sebastian appears (not dead!) in Illyria mourning the loss of his dear sister (who is also very much alive). Olivia, thinking Sebastian is Orsino’s pageboy who is really Viola, takes Sebastian and marries him (and he just goes along with it ‘cause why not?). Then Olivia sees Viola with Orsino and announces their marriage to the Duke. Orsino gets angry and Viola gets confused until Sebastian shows up! Viola and he reunite and all is understood and Orsino realizes he really loves Viola and everyone ends up happy.
Except Malvolio. Who has his own little side story where some characters write a love letter “from” Olivia, proclaiming her love for him. “Olivia” bids him wear bright yellow socks and cross-garters, to hop around, and to smile like a fool…which he does. And gets shut down. Poor guy.
This is such a funny movie. My friends and I quote it all the time. It stars Amanda Bynes before her crazy days. But here’s the low-down. There’s a girl named Viola who goes to Cornwall High School and plays soccer there. The girls team gets cut and when the boys team refuses to let her play, she makes a plan.
Her twin brother Sebastian goes to London to perform with his band and asks Viola to cover for him at his new school, Illyria High, which is a boarding school. Viola dresses up like a boy (very convincingly, I might add) and attends Illyria, hoping to make the boys soccer team and beat Cornwall.
Her roommate Duke Orsino really likes this girl named Olivia and when Viola and Olivia hit it off, Duke trades soccer lessons for Viola with help getting Olivia. The plan backfires, though, when Olivia gets a crush on Viola (“Sebastian”) and Viola develops feelings for Duke. Things are getting tricky, I know.
Sebastian’s (the real Sebastian) girlfriend Monique and Malcolm realize what happened and tell the school principal. The real Sebastian comes home early from London and Olivia kisses him, a kiss which Duke sees. Duke yells at Viola (thinking she/he kissed Olivia) and kicks her out the night before the big Cornwall/Illyria soccer game.
The next morning Sebastian gets woken up and goes to the soccer field…he plays terribly while Viola watches helplessly from the sidelines. The principal comes in during halftime and with a megaphone announces that Sebastian is a boy. He, well…he proves that he’s definitely a boy. Then Viola switches with him and during the game, Viola and Duke end up pushing each other in anger. Viola announces that she’s a girl (and, like sister, like brother…she proves it) and Duke walks off in anger. She invites him to a Junior League ball and he shows up and they kiss and everyone lives happily ever after.
Again, except Malcolm who loves Olivia in a creepy, stalkery sort of way.
Boom. There you go. Here are some things to watch for when you see the movie and read the play (because that’s what you’re going to do now):
- Malcolm = Malvolio. They are both kind of the butt of everyone’s jokes and it’s hilarious. Malvolio would have been a weird name for the present day, so they changed it to Malcolm. Despite this, Malcolm’s pet tarantula is in fact named Malvolio.
- In the play, Cesario is one of Duke’s attendants. In the movie, it’s the pizza shop that they hang out in.
- The only direct quote I noticed (though used in completely different contexts in both): “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, Carlisa! I adored Twelfth Night, and loved She's the Man, so just seeing the way you've drawn comparisons between the two is pretty dang awesome. (And now I feel like I should read the play and watch the movie again...)
In case y'all missed it, Alyssa & I have teamed up for a giveaway! We're going to be picking TWO WINNERS to pick the SHAKESPEARE RETELLING of their choice. Best part? It's open INTERNATIONALLY (as long as Book Depository ships to your country). For an idea of what retellings you can choose from, here's a handy list. You can enter via the Rafflecopter form below.