The Twelfth Night play is set in Illyria, an imaginary country. The setting is less important than the domestic comedy that takes place in The Duke’s palace, the house of Olivia and in the streets around it.
Read more about Twelfth Night settings.

Date written: 1601

Genre classificationTwelfth Night is regarded as a Comedy.

Read the full, original Twelfth Night text

Read Twelfth Night in simple, modern English

Main characters in Twelfth Night: Viola is a young woman wrecked near the shore of Illyria. She is in love with the Duke, Orsino. Olivia is a rich young countess wooed by Orsino. Sebastian is Viola’s twin brother.

Olivia has an uncle, Sir Toby Belch, who lives in her house. He has a visiting friend, Sir Andrew Aguecheek. She has a steward, Malvolio, who runs her household. Her personal maid is Maria, and she has other servants, among them, Fabian, and a jester, Feste. See a full list of characters in Twelfth Night.

Twelfth Night themes: Shakespeare is exploring the way the complications of loving someone often arise from confusion and concealment about identity. Another theme is the close connection between madness and love and how the irrational pursuit of love can lead to destruction.

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