« Horse on the Tracks | Main | Breaking News: Day 1 »

Changing Identities

"So when writers baptize a character, they mean death, rebirth, new identity?"
~page 159 of Thomas C. Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor

When I was reading this chapter, I couldn't help but link it to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. I'm taking a Shakespeare class this semester and that's the play we're studying at the moment. Anyways, fraternal twins Viola and Sebastian are in a ship wreck, separated, and then rescued. Both think the other is dead, though Viola has some hope that Sebastian is alive somewhere. Viola passes herself off as a man in the place she travels to--Illyria--and names herself Cesario. If this isn't a case of rebirth, I don't know what is. This example is one of of the more obvious ones. Not only does she temporarily "transform" into a man, she changes her name as well. This is after she comes out of the water.

The application of this chapter to Sebastian isn't quite as obvious, but it is still possible. Starting with the "survival of the fittest" idea, Sebastian is so sure that his sister is dead, but Viola isn't as sure about her brother--shown through Viola's hope that he is alive. This goes along with the idea that Sebastian at least believes himself to be the stronger sibling--that he was able to survive long enough to be rescued. Also, once Sebastian arrives in Illyria, he is mistaken for Cesario. I won't ruin this for anyone who wants to see this or read it but hasn't done so yet, so I won't go into details, but lets just say certain events play out for Sebastian that wouldn't have if he was still fully Sebastian and not Cesario to a degree.

Comments (1)

Jeremy Barrick:

Water does have that kind of effect on a person. Take swimming for example. It is a hot sunny day, mid-August, the heat is so intense that you jump in your swimming pool. That is re-birth to me. Maybe more of a rejuvenation, but the premise still exists. Same with a shower after a long day at work or school.You begin to feel like a new person after.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 5, 2009 1:26 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Horse on the Tracks.

The next post in this blog is Breaking News: Day 1.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.