A Fancifully Twisted Halloween Masquerade

“Give a man a mask and he’ll tell you the truth.” ~ Oscar Wilde

The words mask and disguise can inspire thoughts of deception; but as Oscar Wilde’s quote suggests, this isn’t always true. Take Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night as an example. In the play, a deceiving mask is a tool of revelation. Let us look at Viola, a young woman pretending to be a man who plays a woman on stage.

The outermost layer of Viola’s manifold masquerade reveals information about her world; and the inner bits of the same onion shed light on the wants and emotional states of Viola and every character with whom she interacts. The man-woman combination provides her character with the best means to obtain and transmit information she wouldn’t have access to, had she been just a woman or just a man.

Olivia, a character who doesnt pretend to be a man on or off the framed stage, must play with a different kind of disguise. As a noble unmarried woman, she has to hide behind a steward if she wants to remain part of her circle after her father and brother die.

I don’t think Shakespeare thought much of his era’s gender based limitations. In fact, I believe he uses Viola’s character and her layered masks to reveal his opinion in a safe manner. Viola’s success with Olivia and Orsino, a man interested in Olivia, can be attributed to her ability to address these two individuals as a woman and as a man. 

The woman under the mans face knew how to relate to Olivia. The same disguise puts her on an advantageous place when interacting with Orsino: she was able to use her voice because Orsino thought that it was a man talking to him. Had Viola come to Orsino as herself, he would have never revealed what he did. Not after saying that “no woman’s sides can bide the beating of so strong a passion” as his. 

It could be argued that Viola’s boldness arises from the fact that she gets to hide behind a man’s face, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate; for it is the creativity of a woman that originates the ingenious plot. Then again, it could also be said that the play is just fiction, and that Viola’s capable mind will always stay on stage. But isn’t fiction a dramatized kind of truth camouflaged under artful deception?

By dressing Viola as a man who acts and looks like a woman, Shakespeare offers insight into the complexity of gender issues. How wondrous that this message holds so much truth so many centuries later… Shakespeare doesn’t only show that women have a strong voice, but he uses all his characters to illustrate that gender roles can be a blurry concept, and that most characteristics aren’t gender specific. 

He presents Orsino, a man who shows traditionally thought woman-like behaviors; he is lovesick and sitting at home, waiting for a woman to come claim his heart. Olivia acts like the stereotypical thoughtless bachelor; she doesn’t care about Orsino’s love—she’s even annoyed by it—but when Cesario (Viola dressed as a man) charms her, Olivia asks him to marry her. Shakespeare uses deception to reveal veracities about gender, society and about individual identity, which would be too problematic to be discussed in any other way, especially while he was still breathing.

Are you wondering how all this relates to a Halloween party? Probably not, since you are a wicked witty bunch. But I’ll tell you anyway, I was thinking, how much of ourselves do we truly reveal through our choices of Halloween masks? What are you wearing this year?


Note: this was not the post I had planned for A Fanciful Twist’s Halloween Party. My original choice has skulls, a festive Caribbean sunset, and a child with an attitude problem. But yesterday, a former college mate asked me about Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and gender roles. I ended up re-reading everything I ever wrote about the play. When I ran into a paper discussing masks, truths and disguises, I was tempted to tweak part of it for the party… but thought it too long. Then a different friend shared a link to “Rhiannon Schneiderman Takes On Ideals Of Beauty And Grooming In Her Hilarious ‘Lady Manes’ Series (NSFW)”, and I just knew that this post was meant to be. I understand that it remains a tad long for a blog party, but I hope you enjoy reading it anyway. For me, it was a fun and rewarding piece to research and write.
The Face Behind the Mask, by Bress-Art
via

You’re probably muttering, dearest witchy writer, is there a giveaway? My thoughts exactly! So here is one… or three. When it comes to masks, layers and truths lurking (and screaming) under fictions, my tales tend to be queens. So I’m giving away a copy of

2. Thorn in Red, and
3. Blooming Howls (to be released October 31st)

If you own copies of my work, just let me know and the prize will go to the next person. Best of luck, my Luvs! Don’t forget to visit other Fanciful partiers. If you rather not take part in the giveaway, feel free to tell me. The winner will be chosen using Random.Org, and announced on November 3rdFly over to my sidebar to enter the Blooming Howls Inspired Blade Giveaway.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0083HF7MShttp://www.amazon.com/Thorn-Red-Magaly-Guerrero-ebook/dp/B00HGEPC56http://pagan-culture.blogspot.com/2014/10/welcome-to-witches-in-fiction-2014.html

67 comments:

  1. I will be a Sugar Skull Girl this Halloween and have my Grandson do the Make-Up for me since he is Masterful at face painting... he's at that Goth Stage of the Teen years so he's very Dark all year long now. *smiles* I do believe a good Masquerade Party allows even the most timid of personalities to have the confidence and freedom to let the alter ego emmerge and have Fun with it. Happy Halloween from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian

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    1. I love Sugar Skulls and the idea of your grandchild doing your make-up is enchanting. Nothing is more beautiful and magical than to see generations sharing the things that make life worth living!

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  2. With layers under the layers, as the thespian playing Viola is a kind of Russian doll; a man shell holding a woman character over an actual core person, a boy. It's all a comedy (and we Brits love to have a laff and dress up guys as Dames) which makes it the best place to play reveal and disguise, both for the plot of the play and the wider issues outside.

    But what I'd missed, and am delighted that you pointed out, is just how traditionally feminine Orsino's behaviour is. He's the flower, waiting for the bee. Which all makes sense, as worker bees are all women. (Obviously)

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    1. Now every time I read the play or see Orsino on stage, I will think of flower and worker bees. Ha!

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  3. I'll be what I always am...a witch! But, since I live in a frightfully red part of a blue state, I can only reveal my truest self on Halloween...and my neighbors don't even know they're seeing the real me.

    I too think Shakespeare knew that women were far smarter, and capable of far more, than that period in time allowed them to be. In a lot of ways, that's still the case today, even in first world countries.

    This was a great post, Magaly, and I really enjoyed reading it. It's two a.m. here on the West coast, though, so I just hope my reply made sense!

    Blessings,

    Victoria from Brushstrokes

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  4. Yes, give a person a mask - or an avatar :) It's been ages since I read Shakespeare, but reading your post reminded me also of Chaucer. What is the one thing every woman in the world wants? Freedom.

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    1. Oh, and I'm (for the first time ever) wearing my true inner self this year: Purple long haired super hero wig and long, sexy purple plush witch's dress. I think that says it all :)

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    2. Now I'm missing my dearest Chaucer. I shall delight in it as soon as things slowdown around here. And I can't wait to see you in all your purple awesomeness!

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  5. Why have I not read 12th Night? LOL, I think I'll dig up the husband's old complete works of Shakespeare from his college days and give it a whirl.

    I honestly have no clue...and there are at least 2 places I'll need a costume. Let me think a bit and I'll get back to you with my choice. It may well be Vampiric Little Red Riding Hood again. I own your first two, but not your newest - yet!

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    1. Really? I can't believe it. I suspect you are going to love it. It will make you giggle, too.

      And on the night of Halloween all wolves fear for their blood. ;-D

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  6. Really enjoyed this post Magaly, a wonderful look into both Shakespeare and gender roles.

    I'd love you to visit my party if you get chance. http://phoenixra.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/the-haunted-tea-party.html

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  7. I love this post, Magaly! It's true, a mask allows us to suspend our own timidity for a short while. My goal is not to need the mask! I don't know if I'll go out for Halloween, but if I were, I'd love to dress up as the goddess Kali. How fun would it be painting yourself blue, shopping for skulls and incorporating all the little details into the costume? Then I remember : oh yeah, Goddess...don't want to seem like I'm mocking Her. Most likely I will have a quiet night at home with candles, pictures of those who have passed, wine, and a fabulous feast for the spirits set up on my patio. I'm not into wasting food, though, so I will likely take a meal to the man who lives on the bench at my beach and call that my offering. ...and I'm rambling. Great post! I own your lovely creations, and can't wait for the birth of your next brain child, Blooming Howls.

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    1. One day, you'll rock those bones... and I'll be there to dance with you.

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  8. Yet again you knock us off balance you naughty little trickster :D . Of course we were all expecting cackles and flaming curses, yet you mesmerise us instead with your charm and intellect.
    I shall be wearing a "bat" mask this year....yes I is an "old bat"...and more than slightly "batty". I wise crone should always "know herself" mwahahahaha...:D XXX

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    1. What kind of friend would I be if I didn't keep on your toes, my batty love? ;-D

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  9. No plans for an elaborate costume this year. Hubby works and I will probably dress bohemian, witchy (my regular clothes) to answer the door to the Trick or Treaters. Gender roles enforced by society are prisons, I believe, meant to keep us all in a conformity uniform meant to comfort the psyches of those that enforce such societal regulations. I am the delighted owner of your books, and as such, will step aside for some lucky person.

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    1. Hm... I might dress up as Superman in a tutu. Gender roles prisons are too ugly...

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  10. Yes,I did enjoy reading Your piece and so perfect for Halloween.I'm glad to hear You would enjoy living in a Coffee Cottage-I know I do.Thank You for dropping by with Your sweet comment. Blessings Your way-Denise

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    1. Coffee makes everything better.

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  11. The first two are in my KindleCloud. Soon as I get a new K. I will reread them both! I like wearing WItches' Hat, preferably with 6 yrds of tulle attached.

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    1. Rereading is awesome for the soul. Yep, it truly is. "6 yards"? I hope you give us a glimpse!

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  12. I have agree with Gina on your switcheroo, but I loved the thoughts. 12th Night has always been a favorite but....I see new visions with your words. Thanks for being so much more insightful than I on this play. I am old enough that dressing for Halloween has become slightly boring.....I'll be a witch this year, which is a change from my usual fortune teller.....perhaps I know my own future and am embracing it with vigor. Witchy kisses, can hardly wait for your new writing child's debut, xoxo Oma Linda

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    1. One day, we'll go to Central Park and watch the play while sharing some yummy wine. The cackles shall be loud and rich. ;-D

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  13. I do love Shakespeare's plays, and studied A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet as part of my English Literiture exam at school.

    I completely agree, such topics would have been "too problematic to be discussed in any other way, especially while he was still breathing."

    I won't be dressing up for Halloween, so there will be no mask. My night will be spent watching back to back 1930s horror films with Amber, while I have her home. ♥

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    1. A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of my faves!

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  14. Fabulous post! I actually have "If music be the food of Love, Play on" stenciled on my kitchen wall!
    one of my favorites - and like so much Shakespeare, in many ways so far ahead of its time regarding gender. will save this reread and ponder more!
    Still undecided as to this years costume- (pirate last year) but saw a DIY Deer costume using painted branches for antlers which I'd love to try- but I'm planning for the cats to be witches, wizards and cleopatra should they choose to cooperate this year
    Cheers!

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    1. "Play on," indeed!

      I almost want to be a fly on the wall while you are trying to convince your furry babies to cooperate. ;-D

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  15. You are wonderful to include " Oscar" a true party favorite! The movie " Shakespeare Inlove" gently enlightens to this oddity in history. Then the movie " Libertine" showed the female struggle to be seen seriously, from the ridiculous. Our differences, male & female , should they be understude or celebrated? Both would be a perfect world.
    Masked ? I love the whole idea, especially at a " Ball" As none are on my calendar, I will be the invisible crone with knowing eyes...........my pretty!

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    1. No party with masks in it can be complete without Señor Wilde.

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  16. I absolutely love that you bring Shakespeare into context with Halloween! Witty, wonderful, wacky! Love love love! xoxoxoxo Your write by is just fantastic! Jen

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  17. I do love Shakespeare! Of course--it's absolutely appropriate for Halloween. My mind is already conjuring up ideas for a Shakespeare theme next Halloween.
    I have been many faces over the years for Halloween, but I always come back to the witch--or gypsy.
    Happy Halloween!
    Chrislyn

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    1. Is that so? I can't wait to see your Halloween(y) Shakespeare then!

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  18. I always plan a longer visit when I click your links. Not because you are long winded, but because I can not tear myself away.

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  19. Ha! Thanks for the wonderfully unexpected post! I've always loved Twelfth Night for it's downright silliness, guess that's kind of an empty-headed attitude towards it but I do love a good farce! To be honest, I'm usually wearing a mask of one sort or another more often than I care to admit. That said, I'll be partying as Poison Ivy (from Batman) Friday night and I have no explanation for that. Cheers, Sarah

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    1. I think Shakespeare was just so very clever; putting people of their guards like that. By the time the difficult topic was too obvious to deny, they were already laughing too hard to walk away.

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  20. Phew! I made it! Shakespeare- the best! Wonderful musings you shared. Thanks for popping by my party earlier...I've been playing catch up and visiting everybody I missed earlier. Yay a giveaway. Always exciting.

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  21. I love Shakespeare, so any Halloween party that includes him is fine by me. Happy Halloween to you, Magaly. Please put me down for the giveaway for one of your books.

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  22. Good point Magaly!! You are so clever! I was maleficent many years in a row and no one ever recognized me with my black head dress and crown. It was sooooo odd to be unrecognized everywhere I went, I loved it! ;-) <3 <3

    Happy Halloweeeeen <3, Vanessa

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    1. I guess this year you'll choose something else...

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  23. Spooktacular Party Post! Will check out your sidebar for your generous giveaway. Hope you'll fly by my Are You A Good Or Bad Witch? Halloween Party & Be Blessed with powerful Wiccan Wishes... Enchantingly Yours, Lyndy Ward >^..^<
    http://todaysgold.blogspot.com/2014/10/are-you-good-witch-or-bad-witch.html

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  24. What a fun and inspiring post! I love the way all forms of art inspire each other! Thank you so much for your visit to the circus at The Tearoom!

    Betty

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  25. like your post....happy halloween
    Kerstin from germany
    www.cobblestone-prims.blogspot.de

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  26. Hi Magaly, so nice of you to come to my party, now you have me curious, will have to read Shakespeare again, yes, would love to be included in your drawing, have fun, Celeste, Plumfield House Gardens

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  27. Lovely and unexpected post that brings up many good points. Now I have to think back to all of my past Halloween costumes to see what they all mean!

    xoxo
    Kim
    Gerushia's New World

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  28. A party post about masks?! Oh, you're too good to us. I love the Oscar Wilde quote for obvious reasons. And the piece was so well thought out. Shakespeare at Halloween? Double points, to you for that. No, really. This was not the blog party post I was expecting, and I devoured every word. As for the giveaway, I will be passing on the grounds I already own your books. Of course I do. I reread Alma Mia recently, in fact. So best of luck to the others, and know that I'll be in line to buy my copy of Blooming Howls on Halloween. Thank you for setting such a fine table, with so many nibbles to feast upon, Lady Magaly.

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    1. The whole time I was reading this, I was thinking of you and Señor Oliver's latest adventures. I love the way our fictional friends (and friendly assassins) become part of our daily living. ;-D

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  29. Oh, my Dear, I enjoyed it immensely!! Thank you. (Did you notice "Witchy-Poo's little "Hamlet" reference? LOL) Again...bravo!
    Hugs, and have a Happy Halloween!
    Anne

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    1. I did! I even told my Piano Man, "See? I wasn't the only one with Shakespeare on my mind," lol!

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  30. I very much enjoyed reading this, m'dear! I love to read and discuss (or more often, listen to others discuss) anything surrounding gender... I find it fascinating! I wrote an essay once about masks we wear... I'll have to see if I can find it... or maybe write a new one... ^_~

    HUGS!

    XOXO

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    1. Well, you know I would LOVE to read your essay. Maybe one of these days, we'll have a Gender through the Ages blog party. ;-D

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  31. Oooh, of course I'd love copies!

    Wonderful thoughts about gender in Shakespeare's plays!

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  32. Methinks Master Shakespeare would have written sonnets about you, Magaly.

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    1. The Dark Witchy Lady's Sonnets? Hahaha!

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  33. Hello magical Magaly! Beautiful writing, as always, I am so pleased that this ended up being what you posted instead because I just drooled over it!

    http://broomsticksandlace.blogspot.ca/2014/10/a-fanciful-twist-halloween-party-2014.html

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    1. Drooling is quite acceptable around these parts. ;-D

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