In Twelfth Night or What You Will, the story is filled with confusion among the characters as a result of disguises, mistaken identities, and deceit. In the play The Importance of Being Earnest the result of such things are the same. Several lessons can be taken from the two plays that may also be found in some context within the bible, and as such part of Jesuit doctrine.
In the Twelfth Night or What You Will, Viola in disguising herself causes many problems throughout the story. In the final three acts we begin to see the full extent of the effects of the ruse. While all works out in the end the deceit causes emotional harm to those around Viola. Antonio who has fallen in love with her brother Sebastian is heartbroken when he believes that Sebastian, who is really Viola, betrays him by stealing from him. Olivia also falls in love with Cesario, Viola’s disguise, and is hurt when she believes Cesario to be Sebastian who she had recently married. In The Importance of Being Earnest, Jack and Algernon also disguise themselves at different times and end up causing harm to those they love. Jack pretends to be a man named Earnest while he is in the city and falls in love with Gwendalin. Algernon pretends to be the same Earnest that Jack had created when visiting his home, Jack created the false person in order to escape the country when he pleased, and falls in love with Cecely. In both their cases the women find out and are disappointed with them. These examples serve to show us that we should not lie about ourselves because it may hurt us or others. Viola goes out of her way to avoid lying in words but in the deception she is essentially lying. The lesson to be learned is that you should be yourself to prevent things from being complicated and to prevent harming yourself or others. The bible says that one should not lie and while there are moral reasons for this the practical or secular ones are what the two stories focus on.
Another lesson that the stories can give is that it is a good thing to have a good sense of humor. In the Twelfth Night or What You Will, Feste, the fool constantly makes fun of the characters but the story also says the he is very intelligent for he can tell exactly what to say to someone to make them laugh. In his jesting he actually serves the purpose of drawing the characters attention to their own flaws so that they may mend them. In The Importance of Being Earnest, both Jack and Algernon make fun of the laypeople an example of how criticism should not be used. Here they criticise what they see as wrong with the people but it is not meant to be constructive toward them and they themselves are not going to do anything to help.The most interesting thing that I have learned this semester in this class is that it is extremely important to reflect on the things in your everyday life. Through this reflection we can find ways that all things are interconnected. With this realization the opportunities to help ourselves and others increase dramatically. Knowing this we also may find it easier to learn things as we relate ideas together they form more permanent memories.