Malvolio Twelfth Night Character Analysis

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Malvolio is the enforcer of rules in Twelfth Night, but only when it best serves him. He acts as a distinct contrast to the other minor characters in the play. Maria, Fabian, Sir Toby and Sir Andrew all tend to enjoy frivolity and this is not the lifestyle that Malvolio approves of. He acts as though he is sound of morals and uses logic at all times but the moment his dreams can be achieved he has no qualms about doing whatever he can to get them. He emphasizes the place and status of the others, despite lacking the titles and real power that some of them have. Malvolio tries to raise his status and make a good life for himself by separating himself from his peers and inhibiting the lives of others. Malvolio’s name means “ill intentioned”,…show more content…
He treats these people poorly and so they humiliate him and lock him away, “good Sir Topas, do not think I am mad: they have laid me here in hideous darkness”(4.2.2049-2051). The trick is cruel, so much so that even Sir Toby feels some remorse, though he fosters a strong dislike for Malvolio, “I would we were well rid of this knavery. If he may be conveniently delivered, I would he were” (4.2.2053-2054). One might be prompted to feel sympathy for Malvolio in some depictions of this work and in others one might understand and even support his punishment. That is what decides whether or not his situation can be deemed just. If an actor portrays him as a broken man, with problems that cause him to lash out, and the room he is kept in is pitch black, one would most likely feel for him; as he is a man being forced to question his sanity just because he was too enthralled by thoughts of a better life. On the other hand, if Malvolio is played as a ruthless man, his punishment seems less severe, and he reacts with more anger than fear or sadness, it is easier to think he deserves what he gets. Purely reading from the text, the punishment seems excessive. Humiliation may have been deserved, as he humiliated his peers, ruined their fun, and treated them poorly on a regular basis. He did not deserve to be locked up and tricked to the extent that he was, he is rude and unkind but he is only human and most of his issues probably stem from a sense of insecurity at his lack of status and ability to get on with his peers. He has an inflated self worth but it seems as though it could be a façade. He deserves retribution for the way he treats the people around him but the trick played on him by the people he bothers is
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