Malvolio In Twelfth Night Analysis

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Malvolio in Twelfth Night plays a pivotal role in examining the nuances of sanity. His encounter with Sir Topas, reinforces the ideas of delusions, while bringing to light the contradictions between the perceptions of sanity versus the reality of it. Although Malvolio seemingly appears to have a tragic ending, we find that he exits the play with something far more valuable than he originally had anticipated. The encounter between Malvolio and Sir Topas not only defines the turning point for Malvolio in the play, but also sheds some light on the difference between, madness and sanity. “But as well? Then you are mad indeed, if you be no better in your wit than a Fool.” (IV.II.95-95). This line is ironic, as not only does Feste say that by being…show more content…
His greatest flaw is his ambition which blinds his common sense, the prospect of being able to marry Olivia and gain social rank, utterly depleted his sense of reality. For example, “Why, everything adhere together, that no dram of a scruple, no scruple of a scruple, no obstacle, no incredulous or unsafe circumstance- what can be said?”(III.IV.84-87). Malvolio is caught is a sort of fantasy land. The reason he is declared mad is because he is a lower class man trying to climb the social ladder. Ironically enough, they declare this to be madness, yet the people, who declare him to be mad are seemingly just as mad. Whether it be Sir Toby Belch’s drinking problem, Sir Andrew’s obliviousness, or Maria who impersonates Olivia through a letter. So although they are all in one sense or another mad, it is only Malvolio who faces the consequences. “An affectioned ass that cons state without book and utters it by great swaths; the best persuaded of himself, so crammed, as he thinks with excellencies, that it is his grounds of faith that all that look on him love him.” (II.III.146-150). He is the most hated character and receives the harshest treatment because of his social rank, as they are trying to send him a message. However, although he is treated harshly because of his supposed “madness” it is only through this treatment does he learn about himself, and…show more content…
Sir Topas says to Malvolio, “Sayst thou that house is dark?” (IV.II.35-36), to which Malvolio replies, “As hell, Sir Topas.” (IV.II.37). This is interesting as not only is Feste trying to alter Malvolio’s sense’s, but it is also shedding light on the topic of sanity. As although Malvolio is in the darkness, this is the first time in the play that he knows who he is and there is clarity. As Malvolio states, “I am no more mad than you are.” (IV.II.49-50), which reaffirms his sanity. The fact that Sir Topas is trying to take away Malvolio’s sight, speaks to the fact that the outside world can alter sanity. In fact it is only when you are in darkness that your sense are preserved and you can truly be sane. For example, “Why, it hath bay windows transparent as barricoes, and the [clerestories] toward the south-north are as lustrous as ebony; and yet complainest thou of obstruction? (IV.II.38-41). These lines are full of contradictions, such as, bay windows as transparent as barriers, and high windows as transparent as something that is dark, but yet Sir Topas says that he complains of darkness. Which these lines imply that it should be in fact be dark in the room. This just furthers the idea that it is in fact reality and what people tell you that make you insane. These lines make no sense, yet Sir Topas tries convince Malvolio the room his bright. This implies that sanity can only be

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