Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night is a brilliant comedy by the ever-great William Shakespeare. As good as the comedy is, I believe it’s the characters that make the play truly special. There are no special or extra elements that influence this play such as with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The characters and their relationships and actions make this play truly a classic. There are two specific characters which make this play an outlier from other comedies. The first character that I believe creates this play is Malvolio. As the serious and almost vindictive butler, Malvolio falls subject to the crafty ruse of Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, Maria, and Fabian. In Act 2 Scene 5, Malvolio becomes the prey of a fake letter from Olivia describing her love for him and what he must do to please her. These actions actually, of course, repulse and confuse Olivia, but show the lengths to which Malvolio is willing to go to win her affections. Unfortunately for Malvolio, his apparent obedience is seen as madness by Olivia, and he is taken and imprisoned in a dark room by Sir Toby and Maria in Act 4. Pity for Malvolio comes around when he is thrown in the dark room for a night with absolutely no light. Additionally, Malvolio should earn some respect as he is able to retain his sanity and remember he is sane despite the jests by Feste, Maria and Sir Toby in Act 4. This leads to the second dynamic character who makes this play unique is Feste. Feste is special through the lines he sings, and the wisdom he offers which is disguised in humor. In Act 2 Scene 3, Feste sings for the company of Sir Andrew and Sir Toby, and while he is known as the fool, Feste is regarded as a very good singer. The lines he sings made the performance I watched online even more interesting and diverse from other plays. Secondly, while Feste is publicly known as the fool he is noted for his wisdom at the same time. In Act 3 Scene 1, Viola, disguised as Cesario, commented on how Feste is so wise he is able to be the fool. This also means that although Feste is the fool he gives wise counsel and commentary on other characters. Feste comments on how Olivia’s mourning is foolish, mentions Orsino’s extreme moodiness, and realizes Sir Toby’s self-destructive habits. These wise observations by Feste truly make him a diverse and dynamic character which in turn makes the play so much different. While many characters make Twelfth Night an incredible play, I believe Malvolio and Feste are two of the most unique and interesting characters that influence the play.


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