Malvolio And The Way He Is Treated In William Shakespeare's The Twelfth Night

1820 words - 7 pages

Malvolio and the Way he is Treated in William Shakespeare's The Twelfth Night

Malvolio is an extremely complicated and difficult character to study
because of his mixed, complex personality. At times in the play he
seems very reliable and loyal but sometimes he seems foolish and weak,
and in many scenes in the play the audience are encouraged to laugh at
him, his actions or his words. He is not portrayed as a lovable
character, which makes the play funnier. Also, the way that Malvolio
seems humourless actually makes him humorous. Just Malvolio's name can
give you some idea of his personality, it means in Latin
"evil-wishing!"

Malvolio's first appearance is in Act I Scene 5. His humourless
character can be seen straight away in this scene because he is not
amused by Feste's attempts to cheer up a saddened Olivia. He talks
about Feste in a rude way, as if he is higher than the fool:

"I marvel your lady takes delight in such a

barren rascal. I saw him put down the other day

with an ordinary fool, that has no more brain than a

stone. Look you now, he's out of his guard already!"(Lines 81-84)

Olivia is not happy with this attempt to be unkind and offensive to
Feste and is quick to respond in Feste's defense:

"O you are sick of self-love, Malvolio and taste with

a distempered appetite." (Lines 89-90)

Later on in the scene Malvolio tells Olivia that Viola/Cesario wishes
to see her. He tries to make Viola/Cesario sound worse than what "he"
actually is because Malvolio wants to keep "him" away from Olivia. His
attempts fail and eventually Olivia talks with Viola/Cesario.

When Viola/Cesario leaves, Malvolio is instructed by Olivia to give
"him" a ring. Malvolio is very obedient and agrees to do this with no
trouble. So, from being rude and offensive earlier on in the scene to
Feste, he is now obedient and loyal. Malvolio could, at this point, be
called two-faced. His personality changes depending on whom he is
interacting with.

Act II Scene 2 consists of a conversation between Malvolio and
Viola/Cesario. Malvolio seems very proud and pleased to be telling
Viola/Cesario that Olivia does not want him to bring messages from
Orsino any more. Of course he does not realise that the implications
of this message are actually the complete opposite! He says:

"And one thing more, that you never be so hardy to

come again in his affairs, unless it be to report your

lord's taking of this." (Lines 8-10)

Malvolio is then rude and selfish to Viola/Cesario because he
obviously feels that he is more important than him. Instead of handing
Viola/Cesario the ring, he throws it onto the floor.

In the next scene, Act II Scene 3 Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are
drinking, they persuade Feste to sing for them but Maria is wary and
warns them of the trouble they could be in....

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