Twelfth Night takes its name from the Carnival-like festivities surrounding the Christian feast of the Epiphany. (Go to "What's Up with the Title?" for more on this.) Like the Mardi Gras festival, Twelfth Night is a religious holiday and an opportunity to invert social order while indulging in unruly and riotous behavior. The play is also chock-full of drinking, carousing, eating, over-indulging, and other spirited activity. Yet, the rebellious spirit of Twelfth Night is not limited to overt "partying." Gender-bending, misguided pursuits of love, clowning, and the humiliation of the play's resident "Puritan" figure also embody the spirit of festival in the play.
Twelfth Night is a play that celebrates the unruly spirit of festivity and carnival-like activities.
In addition to the rowdy partying associated with Twelfth Night festivities, the play's rebellious spirit is also apparent in its portrayal of a gender-bending, cross-dressing woman who breaks the laws of social decorum.