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Character Analysis Of Sir Toby Belch In Shakespeare´S Twelfth Night

1081 words - 5 pages

Comedy is by far the most influential factor in deciding whether or not a story is
entertaining to its audience, due to its ability to create a more relaxed and pleasurable
environment in the plot. From the playful awkwardness of Anne Shirley, to the witty banter of
detectives Tommy and Tuppence, it is evident that comedic characters have always been
appreciated and acknowledged in literature. Sir Toby Belch is but one of many amusing
characters, and is by far one of the most humorous. While Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is
surrounded around an issue of romantic entanglement, Sir Toby’s very presence is enough to
lighten the mood and accentuate the comedic theme of the story through his creation of
problems and unique personality. Therefore, Sir Toby Belch is undeniably the most enjoyable
character in the entire play.
Admittedly, it might be argued that Sir Toby has a very irresponsible and apathetic
nature, which may come across as an unattractive aspect of his character. As he returns home
at unearthly hours without care for his niece, and makes no attempt at making money to
compensate for her generosity, it is clear that Sir Toby feels the right to live at her estate simply
because of their blood relation. This portrays his insensitive personality because he feels no sympathy for Olivia who has just lost her brother and father. Furthermore, it is plain to
see that the only reason Sir Toby had befriended Sir Andrew was for his wealth and wanted him
to wed Olivia for the same reason. “Why he has three thousand ducats a year” (I iii 20) says
Belch with clear intentions and tainted virtue, once again illustrating his immoral conduct. Be
that as it may, Sir Toby alone has the ability to alter the audience’s attention from solemn and
sober situations in the play (such as the love triangle between Viola, Orsino, and Olivia) to
humorous events caused by Toby himself. In other words, he emphasizes the humorous theme
of the play which is enjoyable for the audience. For example, Sir Toby creates a
misunderstanding between Sir Andrew and Cesario (Viola) and forces them into battle while he
looks on with glee. This is one of the most amusing scenes in the play, followed by Belch’s
famous attempt at getting Sir Andrew to “accost” Olivia’s chamber maid; Maria which resulted
in utter confusion. In addition, Sir Toby also delivers several witty and comedic comments to
divert the attention from a supposedly serious love affair between Malvolio and Olivia to the
events taking place behind the ever famous box tree. “Here’s an overweening rouge” (II v 27)
and “O for a stone-bow to hit him in the eye!” (II v 43) are samples of the remarks made by Sir
Toby while he observes Malvolio in hiding. Although all these examples were mere results of a
drunken night or craving for fun on Sir Toby’s part, as an audience they were received as
cheerful moments in the play that amended their attention from the surrounding melancholy.
It also...

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