Why don’t we rewind a little and go back to Twelfth Night. As many of you already know, She’s the Man is based on Twelfth Night. I’ll be honest; it took me until the second act to figure it out. When I finally did, I just sat stunned and amazed. I should probably let you know that I have seen She’s the Man more than I really care to admit. I used to love Amanda Bynes (pre-head shave). Any ways, I wanted to share with you the similarities and differences I noticed with this adaptation.
The most prominent difference is that in She’s the Man Viola intentionally disguises herself as her brother (there is no mere coincidence that her and Sebastian look the same). However, Viola in the play and movie decide “such disguise” “become[s] the form of [their] intent.” (1.2.55-6).
Only the main characters are the same in both. Viola and Sebastian are twins in both as well. There is no Andrew-Toby-Maria subplot in the movie because it is centered on Viola, Duke, Olivia and Sebastian. Viola by far is the main character though. Orsino (the Duke) in the play is represented by a gentleman named Duke Orsino- as in Duke is his first name. Genius right? Sebastian, Olivia and Viola are all represented by characters of the same name. Malvolio is represented by a character named Malcolm. Similarly to Malvolio in the play, Malcolm has a creepy infatuation with Olivia although she shows no interest. Malcolm is also similar to Sir Andrew in his repeated attempts to court Olivia and his contempt for Viola as Sebastian. Ironically (well not so ironically actually), Malcolm has a tarantula named Malvolio!
In the movie Viola disguises herself as Sebastian (who is in London playing music) to prove that girls can play soccer as well as guys. This attempt to prove that as a woman she can play soccer as well as the guys allows for several gender references in the movie. Examples such as extensive negative emphasis on Viola’s similarities to Sebastian, a soccer coach saying “girls can’t play soccer” and Viola’s mother encouraging her to become a debutante (class reference!) exemplify perceived roles of women in She’s the Man. Both Violas use their disguise to “allow [them] very worth” (1.2.60) the things women are denied.
The basic Viola-Orsino-Olivia love triangle from the play remains in the movie. Duke is interested in Olivia (whom is pretty and popular) but she expresses her interest in Viola as Sebastian and Viola/Sebastian falls in love with Duke. As in Twelfth Night, Duke requires Viola’s assistance with courting Olivia. The setting of Illyria is similar as well. The school that Sebastian (or Viola as Sebastian) goes to is called Illyria. Lines in the movie are even the same as in the play. The lines “be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve/ greatness and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em.” (2.5.129-31) are spoken in both. Near the end of the movie, Duke delivers the lines to the soccer team and Viola and Malvolio reads them aloud from the letter in the play. She’s the Man and Twelfth Night both end with the formation of relationships. In the play everybody gets married and in the movie there is a debutante ball to which everybody has an escort.
As I read Twelfth Night, I struggled with thinking about and comparing it to She’s the Man. Perhaps, after reading this, you will too (if not you should at least watch the movie). If you live under a rock and have no clue what She’s the Man is, you can watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UiPki2uxM8 . I also thought I would let you know that the Roger Ebert movie even compares She’s the Man to Twelfth night (or at least makes references)! You can read that here: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/shes-the-man-2006. Lastly, I came across this comparison of She’s the Man and Twelfth night I thought might be interesting: https://prezi.com/jpta3qwk-bfb/comparison-of-twelfth-night-and-shes-a-man/. Enjoy!
- Ebert, R. “She’s the Man.” com. Ebert Digital LLC, 16 Mar. 2006. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.
- Gounder, V. “Comparison of Twelfth Night and She’s the Man”. Prezi. Prezi Inc, 4 Dec. 2013. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.
- Paramount Movies. “She’s The Man Trailer.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 21 Oct. 2013. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.
- Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night. Ed. David Carnegie and Mark Houlahan. Peterborough: Broadview Press/ Internet Shakespeare Editions, 2014. Print.
- She’s the Man. Dir. Andy Fickman. Perf. Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum, Laura Ramsey, Vinnie Jones, David Cross. DreamWorks, 2006. DVD.