Twelfth Night, or What You Will
Twelfth Night, or What You Will
by William Shakespeare

Twelfth Night, or What You Will Allusions & Cultural References

When authors refer to other great works, people, and events, it’s usually not accidental. Put on your super-sleuth hat and figure out why.

Major Source Texts for Plot and Characters

  • Barnaby Riche, "Apolonius and Silla" (1.4.7, 1.5.47)
  • Emanuel Ford, Parismus, (1.4.5, 1.5.47)
  • Accademia degli Intronati, Gl' Ingannati(The Deceived Ones) (1.2.4, 2.2.1)
  • Niccolò Secchio, Gl' Inganni (The Deceived) (1.2.4, 2.2.1)
  • Curzio Gonzaga, Gl' Inganni (The Deceived) (1.2.4, 2.2.1)
  • Matteo Bandello, Novelle (translated into the French text Histoires Tragiques by Francoise de Beleforest)
  • Plautus, Menechimi
  • Note: Secchio's play (1562) and Gonzago's Gl'Inganni (1592) both draw from Gl'Ingannati (1531). Shakespeare had access to at least one, if not all of these works.

Other Literary Allusions

Biblical References

Sometimes Shakespeare Gives Himself Props

Historical References

  • William Barentz, Arctic expeditionary c. 1596-7 (3.2.3)
  • Robert Brown, Puritan "Brownist" sect founder c. 1581 (3.2.3)
  • Pythagoras (4.2.9)

Pop Culture References

  • "Peg-a-Ramsey" folk ballad (2.3.10)
  • "There Dwelt a Man in Babylon" ballad (2.3.10)
  • "Hold Thy Peace" catch (song) (2.3.7)
  • " Twelve Days of Christmas" (2.3.11)
  • "Farewell Dear Love" lyrics (2.3.13)

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