Twelfth Night Character Analysis

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William Shakespeare writes Twelfth Night a play known for its numerous humorous parts, satire, love, uncertainty and foolishness lurk the pages, creating a comedic value. The sub plot present in this piece opposes the traits listed above. Malvolio, the character that makes up Shakespeare’s sub plot, is known for his pompous personality. A series of events in Malvolio’s life, relating to women’s and acquaintances, lead those around him to plan a number of tricks to fool him. The debate surrounding Malvolio’s role in the comedy, has been up for debate for quite some time. A vigorous look at Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Nancy Lindheim’s Rethinking Sexuality and Class in Twelfth Night, as well as a series of definitions clearing up the meanings…show more content…
Despite these implications, he holds a lot of influence on the plays genre, objective, and message. His specific involvement is in regard to his fate, and the way it affects a change in genre (comedy to tragedy) between the main and sub plot. Looking at the relationships in Malvolio’s life will lead to a better understanding of the tragedy he lives with. Malvolio was a steward, currently, this role could be compared to that of a butler. The characters that Malvolio is troubled with are of a higher class, and typically hold more power than he had. That being said, the apparent division and maltreatment present between himself and the other characters cannot be fully laid upon those who mistreat him. Malvolio was looked at as an unpleasant, foreign, and humorless man in comparison to the other characters who foil, or put emphasis on his negative qualities. Maria, Olivia’s housemaid, describes Malvolio as “sometimes a kind of puritan” (Shakespeare, 2.3.140). This is a harsh division as Sir Toby, a kinsman to Olivia (who is a countess), is often inebriated, an activity that Malvolio never participates in. Puritans, are known as “person(s) with censorious moral beliefs, especially about self-indulgence and sex.” (Oxford Dictionary). The qualities that a puritan possesses contradict the qualities that make up Sir Toby. Their clashing personalities lead Sir Toby to brashly talk down to Malvolio after he voices a strong opinion: “Art any more than a steward?” (Shakespeare, 2.3.87-90). Externally, this may appear as lighthearted, as it is prompted by Toby’s usual and un-puritan alcohol induced tendencies. Nevertheless, there is a deeper message being told beneath this supposed, buoyant jab. Malvolio’s anger may be associated with his innate, boring, personality traits, but may also be triggered by the attitudes of those around him. Toby,

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