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"There Is No Feast Without Cruelty" To What Extent Does This Apply To "Twelfth Night"?

1010 words - 4 pages

This statement by Nietzsche applies to a great extent in "Twelfth Night" by William Shakespeare. Since it is a comedy, there certainly is a 'feast' of happiness and humour and therefore, there must be cruelty. Cruelty is shown in a number of ways, but it often coexists with disguise and things not being what they seem. The characters inflicting this cruelty have an inner 'Appolonian - Dionysian struggle', which is the reasoning and orderly side of their mind versus the feeling and chaotic side. When the Dionysian side prevails, it usually leads to cruelty except in the case of revenge when both sides agree with each other.Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was born on October 15, 1844 in the small German town of Röcken bei Lützen. At the young age of 24, he became the Professor of Classics at Basel University, at 26 he became a full Professor and at 45 he became insane. He did a study on the existence of God and concluded that God does not exist, "Belief in God impoverishes human lives" and "Belief in a life after death reduces the dignity and the value of human existence now." He was known for making clear-cut conclusions with no reservations. In the year 1900, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche died.Cruelty in "Twelfth Night" is common throughout the play and since it is a comedy, it follows that cruelty must be a byproduct of happiness and humour. It is as Nietzsche said, "there is no feast without cruelty". In the case of "Twelfth Night", the 'feast' is the happiness and humour and the 'cruelty' is the general unkindness shown amongst the characters in Twelfth Night. The 'feast' enjoyed by one or some of the characters is often to the expense of others; this is the case when Malvolio is tricked, when Sir Toby tricks Sir Andrew about the challenge, in Olivia's treatment of Duke Orsino, in Malvolio's manner of treating others, in Cesario's treatment of Olivia and when characters take out their revenges.When Malvolio is tricked by the under-the-stairs crowd (Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, Maria and Feste), they take joy from inflicting cruelty upon Malvolio. It is debatable on whether Malvolio deserves this treatment, this means that in the minds of the characters/Shakespeare an Appolonian - Dionysian struggle is taking place. The Appolonian side would be reasoning that he does deserve it because of all the grief and humiliation he has caused to others, while the Dionysian side would be feeling slightly compassionate towards Malvolio hoping to forgive and forget, but this is not enough to overcome the reasoning of the first argument. They decide to make him humiliate himself in front of Olivia to teach him a lesson and to make him have some humility. Instead of 'taking a bite of humble pie,' he claims rather nastily, "I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you". This was not the effect that the pranksters had originally intended. Malvolio just took it as an...

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