William Shakespeare, arguably the most important writer in all of English
Literature, is certainly the most influential playwright of the English Renaissance. Born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon in rural northern England, he was the son of a middle class glove maker. Competing against such illustrious company as Christopher Marlowe and Ben Johnson, Shakespeare quickly became one of the most popular playwrights in the city of London, and a favourite of the monarch, the powerful Queen Elizabeth I. Shakespeare wrote thirty-eight plays. "Twelfth Night" was written near the middle of Shakespeare' career, around 1601, and most critics consider it as one of his greatest comedies.
"Twelfth Night" is about illusion, deception, disguises, madness and the consequences of love. In the final scene of the play, all the confusion and complexities that have occurred are resolved. This excerpt deals with the subplot of the story; relating Malvolio's love for Olivia and the trick and humiliation orchestrated on him, steward to Olivia.
Thus, we can wonder, what is the dramatic significance of this extract within the play as a whole?
To begin with, the argument will be focused on the concept of "madness." Then, the paper will illustrate the limits of a comic conception of life through this excerpt.
"Twelfth Night" addresses the issue of self-love and how it affects people lives, leading them to a state of madness. In that sense, Malvolio is the easiest to identify with the problem of self-love By seeing himself as a handsome and noble man, he believed that many women would love to be with him. He asked Olivia (v. 351): "Why you have given me such clear lights of favour,...this in an obedient hope", this could be justified by the fact that Malvolio likes to see things one way only, and he deceives himself just to suit his outlook. He twisted Olivia's words (from a fake letter) around to make it sounds like she will admire his yellow cross-gathered stockings, when she really despises them, considering him as a mad. Feste, the clown, said: .".Madam, why laugh you at such a barren rascal, and you smile not he's gagg'd: and thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenge", and by doing so, Feste criticizes Malvolio's overestimation, when at their first meeting Malvolio said: "I marvel your lady takes delight in such a barren rascal." Through doing this, he shows himself to be a man who condescends to those that he believes to be lower than him, acting on his own personal belief of superiority. Thus, this self-inflated sour character is brought to his knees, unlocked in darkness, because he was considered as a "madman", and he "holds Belzebub...