As I write this last blog, it’s amazing how fast this semester went by. It feels like only yesterday we were talking about Kahu in The Whale Rider! This semester’s work has all built up to the last big piece we are currently reading, Twelfth Night by Shakespeare. This play stresses what can go wrong when there are mistaken identities. When Viola, the main character, pretends to be a boy, a series of misfortunes takes place, including her falling in love with Duke Orsino and having Countess Olivia fall in love with her. By pretending to be someone she is not, Viola creates this love triangle where everyone is loved by someone but doesn’t want to be with them. Olivia is loved by the Duke, but wants to be with Viola, the Duke is loved by Viola, but wants to be with Olivia, and Viola is loved by Olivia but wants to be with the Duke.
In the first two acts of the play, Viola is able to conceal her identity and help the Duke try to win the affection of the Countess even though she is in love with him. However, by Act III, the readers discover that Sebastian, Viola’s twin brother, is alive and is currently in Illyria. This poses a problem for the main character because if her and her brother ever run into each other, her façade will be ruined and her secret of being a girl will be revealed. By the fourth Act, as Sebastian begins to explore the Illyrian empire, the other characters begin to confuse Viola for her brother. By having the twins dressed exactly the same, it beings to cause many problems for the main character.
This problem becomes apparent when Antonio arrives at Lady Olivia’s home and accuses Viola (who he believes is Sebastian) of being heartless when she does not help him when he is arrested by the Duke’s police force. Then, Viola gets accused of injuring Sir Toby and Sir Andrew, when in actuality it is her brother Sebastian who does this injustice. The craziness of mistaken identities comes to a head when Sebastian secretly marries Lady Olivia. It is here where the reader discovers the extent to what the characters will do for those they love. Viola is willing to lower her social ranking to be a servant in Duke Orsino’s court because she wants to be with him. Olivia, on the other hand, is willing to marry a stranger because she is certain that she is in love with him.
This theme of things appearing to be something they are not was definitely something that I can relate to this semester. At the beginning of the year, I chose to do the service component instead of the events. I originally went in the first day, thinking that this service was only a requirement I had to fulfill in order to pass the class. But, by the end of the first day, I realized that this service opportunity was one I was going to cherish. Nicole, Victoria, and I realized that by coming each week, we were becoming role models to these middle school children. By tutoring them every week, we were able to see the great improvements in their schoolwork. And as the weeks passed by, we formed great friendships with the girls that came each and every week. By the end of last week, they were so proud to show us their report cards and the improvements that they have made throughout the semester. But, by helping these kids out, I learned a great deal about myself as well. By helping these kids improve their grades, it made me realize that there is a great importance in being a role model for kids who don’t have very many positive role models in their lives. By volunteering, I was able to discover my love for helping others who are less fortunate than I am.
Another surprising thing I discovered this semester was my improved understanding of poetry. When I first saw the syllabus at the beginning of the semester, I was nervous because in the past, poetry has not been my strong suit. But as the semester went on, I began to learn that the subject of poetry is not as hard as I thought it was in the past. By the end of the semester, I found myself loving reading each new poem because I was able to easily understand it! Through poetry and service, this semester I have learned a great deal about myself and the strengths I have developed here at Loyola University Maryland.