Rigid Class System In Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

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The rigid class system in Middle Age Europe was a primary factor that determined the course of events. In Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, there are underlying issues throughout the plot involving classes of the characters, and their roles within their class. While for the time period, it was common for those in lower classes to be looked down upon, Shakespeare uses many mediums to slyly challenge this idea. Throughout the play, Shakespeare makes the class differences obvious, yet creates certain character dynamics which challenge preconceptions. Twelfth Night is centered around a distinct and rigid class system, yet Shakespeare comments on its negative impacts, and yearns for a more fluid system, in order to create a more just and fair world. Shakespeare includes Malvolio's misfortunes in order to hold up the accepted social structure for the time period. Toby and Maria perceive Malvolio as a man who thinks too highly of himself, and they believe…show more content…
Throughout the play, Feste the Fool is looked at as a character who receives very little respect, yet is rather smart and witty. On the other hand, Toby is respected for being a noble even though he is much less competent than Feste, and is essentially a drunk. Through this relationship, Shakespeare is relaying the idea that not all people are determined by their class, and rather a person's character is what earns them respect. When referencing Toby, Olivia acknowledges that, “he’s in the third degree of drink: he’s drowned,” (1.5.133). While Toby is clearly just a drunken idiot, he is looked upon highly by his peers for his social status, and must be respected by those beneath him, such as Malvolio. This aspect of the social class system primarily represents the class system, yet subliminally declares the system to be backwards and rather

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