Disguise And Disguise In Shakespeare

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Discuss Shakespeare’s presentation of disguise and deception at this point in the play.

Feste’s role as Sir Topas serves as a form of both disguise and deception; Feste presents his role as the religious priest who has come to help Malvolio cure his supposed madness without Malvolio himself figuring out it’s actually Feste in disguise, initiating the role reversal aspect of this scene.

Firstly, this is shown through their conversation with Feste as Sir Topas shouting concendencing insults of ‘hyperbolic fiend’ and ‘dishonest Satan’ towards Malvolio who is trying to proclaim his innocence. The adjective ‘hyperbolic’ connotes exaggeration which is a habit to knowingly commit when lying to make something sound believable, thus the adjective ‘dishonest’. The nouns ‘fiend’ and ‘Satan’ fit in the semantic field of Hell, in direct contrast to the Puritan belief and innocence he believes he has. The evocative use of plosive ‘B’ and fricative ‘S’ emphasises Sir Topas’ anger over Malvolio being an enemy to God, showing Feste’s power and elevated status over the now weakened Malvolio not only because he’s a ‘priest’ but also his newfound ability to criticise him. This depicts that Malvolio’s madness is caused by a possessed demon according to Sir Topas but the sudden comedic interjection of Sir Toby ‘Well said, Master Parson’ reminds the audience that this is all a prank (deception) and the main aim is humiliation.

Secondly, the aggressive torment of Malvolio continues with Feste’s
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