Analysis Of Malvolio In The Twelfth Night By Shakespeare

1346 words - 5 pages

The character of Malvolio is treated too cruelly for Twelfth Night to be classed as a comedy. Malvolio is constantly humiliated and has some of the major elements of a tragic character. The revenge served to him is extremist and is not an equal reaction to his behavior.

Malvolio's puritan nature and extreme unwillingness to be social with his peers upsets certain characters more than others. Sir Toby and Maria show carelessness for his person as he has a strict adherence to rules, contrasting with their blatant disregard for rules and discipline this is conveyed through the line “Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?” Sir Toby mocks Malvolio's puritanical strictness and restriction. The term 'cakes and ale' refers to the good things of life- This is predominant as Malvolio's intentions are good, he wants the characters to lead a life of holiness and restraint. However he also forbids things that are good such as, festivities and music (linking to the title 'Twelfth Night'). The contrasting morals between Malvolio and Sir Toby are crucial in the play as this is the initial cause of the downfall of Malvolio. Malvolio advocates restriction, whilst Sir Toby favours excess.
At the end of the play all characters endure the consequences of their foolishness, however Malvolio endures a greater anguish and much greater embarrassment than the rest of the characters, resulting with him swearing revenge on the characters “I’ll be revenged on the whole pack of you” leading to the conflict caused being unresolved, this connects to Warrens statement as Malvolio does not retaliate against the characters and finally storms off swearing revenge, this adds another element of tragedy as the conflict is unresolved and revenge is a common plot-motif for tragedy in the period. Shakespeare also refers to the characters as a 'pack' which is a direct link to the common theme of bear-baiting that is used within the play. A recurring theme within Shakespeare’s plays is revelry and revenge and Twelfth Night is definitely no exception. Shakespeare’s depicts the character of Mavolio’s as pretentious, conveying his disregarding of social order and to the annoyance of his peers, his self-righteous temperament. He is also Puritan, this makes him an increasingly despised figure in Elizabethan times and to an Elizabethan audience.
His arrival in the play marks the initial ridiculing of Feste. He is degradingly harsh and patronising towards him, as he believes that Feste is “an ordinary fool that has no more brain than a stone” and that he is “gag’d”. He has no consideration for the fact that they are both of servants of the court, so neither in reality is superior to one another. The bitter intermittent comments are one of the factors resulting in the cruel treatment of Malvolio. Later in the play, Malvolio targets his opposing servants, retorting that “you are idle shallow things: I am not of your element” Sir Toby attacks this...

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