Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night In the Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, the function of Feste the clown appears inconsequential, but in actuality his role has immense significance in the overall educational development of the other characters. During the seasonal holiday revelry in which this play takes place, the clown is used as an independent observer that exploits the asinine actions and the faults of the other characters. Shakespeare’s contrast of Feste’s true wit with the unconscious and actual foolishness of the others is the focal contribution of his role to the factual insight of this play. Feste doesn’t make his appearance in the play until the fifth scene of act I. It is during his conversation with Maria that introduces him to the reader and unveils the fool purpose and contribution to the play, which is revealed through an aside: “Wit, an’t be thy will, put me in good fooling! Those wits that think they have thee, do very oft prove fools, and I that am sure lack thee may pass for a wise man. For what says Quinapalus? Better a witty fool than a foolish wit”(1.5:32-36) These lines indicate that Feste’s presence is not merely comic relief through inane acts and show that the role of the fool requires much intelligence. Feste is also able to recognize and criticize the fools subject to foolery, the self-proclaimed wits who are not witty at all.

Since it is their lack of self-knowledge that makes them fools. This subject of self-knowledge or lack thereof is pervasive throughout the comedy as it contributes to the image of love as folly. Feste’s contribution to the revelation of the underlying theme of love is essential to the understanding of the play’s messages. The clown’s most profound comments often take the form of a song: O mistress mine, where are you roaming? O stay and hear, your true love’s coming, That can sing both high and low. Trip no further, pretty sweeting, Journeys end in lovers meeting, Every wise man’s son doth know.

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What is love? ‘Tis not hereafter, Present mirth hath present laughter. What’s to come is still unsure. In delay there lies no plenty, Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty. Youth’s a stuff will not endure. (2.3:39-52) This song is performed at the ardent requests from Sir Toby and Sir Andrew for a love-song. The song depicts the events of Twelfth Night itself. Feste clearly foreshadows the events that will occur later in the play.

When he speaks of journeys ending in lovers meeting, he hints at the resolution in which several characters are married. The song also echoes the merriment of the season and how the uncertainty of what’s to come shouldn’t be disquieting, but instead a driving force to take life as it comes and to live life to the fullest possibilities. In the scene with the clown’s first song, since it involves dialogue between Feste and Sir Andrew, is quite ironic. It is ironic because the licensed fool is actually no fool at all and the true fool, Sir Andrew, is the character who provides most of the entertaining comedy through his idiocy. It is this interaction that reveals two kinds of fools, the conscious and the unconscious fool.

In Twelfth Night it is the unknowing fools that provide the actual comedy, while the wise Feste adds insight to the greater meaning of the play. It is by his acting like a fool that Feste gains the privilege to speak the truth of the people around him. Through these truths, which are directed jokingly at another, Feste’s keen perception of others emerges. Feste’s intuitions and insights are comparable only to the perceptions of Viola. Both characters are the only ones who are involved in both houses, Orsino’s and Olivia’s, they rival each other in their respective knowledge of the events that are taking place at the two settings.

Strangely, Viola is the only character who recognizes Feste’s true intelligence: This fellow is wise enough to play the fool, and to do that craves a kind of wit. He must observe their mood on whom he jests, the quality of persons, and the time, and, like the haggard, check at every feather that comes before his eye. This is a practice as full of labor as a wise man’s art, for that he wisely shows is fit, but wise men, folly-fall’n, quite taint their wit (3.1:62-70). This shows Viola’s awareness of Feste and his ability to read people in order to say the right thing at the right time. Through this keen observation by Viola, she is perhaps conceding the fact that the clown might even have the ability to see through her own disguise.

Although Feste never openly claims to know of Viola’s deception, it is indicated that he might be on to her: Now Jove in his next commodity of hair send thee a beard (3.1:47-48). It is not only Feste’s insight on the reality of the play’s events that make him an important character but his ability to stay detached from the emotional and self-motivated acts of the others. While most of the other characters are distressed because of their loss of love or want of love, Feste remains self-contained, seemingly driven only by his financial needs. Since he relies on monetary compensation from others, he must act in a way that ensures a benefit. It is because the clown is not involved emotionally in the innermost action that he is less of a participant and more of a commentator.

Therefore it seems befitting that Shakespeare assigns Feste the final lines in the comedy. Feste precedes his song by mocking the enraged, mistreated, self-indulged, arrogant, and misguided Malvolio. It suggests that because Malvolio is a self-involved unlikable character that is unwilling to change that he should be burdened by his despicable qualities. These comments further enrage Malvolio and instead of learning something from the insights of Feste he becomes more egotistical than before. This further shows the foolishness of those who hold themselves upon a higher level than a fool but accordingly act as such.

Along with the condemnation of Malvolio are other happy endings in the form of marriages. Although these events are optimistic, Feste’s final song lessens the hope of a completely happy ending. The purpose of this song, which states the rain it raineth every day, insinuates that at any time the happiness that now occupies the characters in Illyria could at any time be swept away. With this song, Feste seems to suggest that even as a person goes through life, with its various ups and downs, he or she must remember that at any time one can end up in an unfamiliar place with a completely different life. Feste’s role as a fool, in both Olivia and Orsino’s houses, makes him accessible to all character’s in the play. But it is his ability to avoid attachment to other characters and his licensed foolery that enables him to become a critic on the actions of others and allows his character to thrive.

It is through this commentary that Feste can assert his true wit over the true foolishness of the other characters. His insightful dialogue provides criticism and interpretation of the central events of the comedy. While Feste’s role as the fool should imply a lack of intelligence, it is exactly the opposite. Shakespeare Essays.

Twelfth Night

In Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”, it is clearly evident that the
fluctuation in attitude to the dual role and situation and tribulations imposed
upon the character of Viola/Cesario ends up in a better understanding of both
sexes, and thus, allows Viola to have a better understanding for Orsino. Near
the opening of the play, when Viola is adopting her male identity, she creates
another self, like two masks and may decide to wear one or the other while
swinging between the two dentities in emotion and in character. She decides to
take on this identity because she has more freedom in society in her Cesario
mask, which is evident when she is readily accepted by Orsino, whereas, in her
female identity she would not be. Thus, a customary role in society and to the
outlooks of others is portrayed. Orsino sees Cesario, as a young squire just
starting out in the world, much like himself as a young, spry lad, so he has a
tendency to be more willing to unload onto her with his troubles and sorrows,
seeking a companion with which to share and to teach. Thus, Viola grows in her
male disguise to get a better feeling for his inner self, not the self that
heshows to the public, or would reveal and share with Viola in her true female
self, but rather his secret self, as he believes he shares with a peer. So, she
grows to love him. But, Orsino’s motivation is actually not love for Viola, but
rather he seems to be in love with love itself. His entire world is filled with
love but he knows that there might be a turning point for him, like when he
says: If music be the food of love, play on; give me excess of it, that,
surfeiting, the appetite may sicken, and so die. (206) This quote shows that he
knows that he is so caught up in “love”, that he hopes his appetite
for love may simmer when he takes more than he can handle. Near the end of the
play, when all tricks and treacheries are revealed and all masks are lifted,
Orsino “falls” in love with Viola. He first forgives her/him of
her/his duty to him, the master; then says that she shall now be her master’s
mistress: Your master quits you; and for your service done him, so much against
the mettle of your sex, so far beneath your soft and tender breeding, and since
you call’d me master for so long, here is my hand. You shall from this time be
your master’s mistress (237) This is sort of a switching love as he thought he
was in love with Olivia in the beginning, but, he readily switches his love to
Viola, as he feel she knows her personality well. As for Viola, she declares her
love for Orsino many times, as if by saying that she would love him if she were
a lady. When Orsino first sends Cesario to act as a messenger and send Orsino’s
love to Olivia, Cesario proclaims: I’ll do my best to woo your lady; aside
yet, a barful strife! Whoe’er I woo, myself would be his wife. (210) This shows
that Viola knows what a difficult situation that she is in, and that she might
try to woo her out of loving Orsino, so that she might have him for herself;
except there is a slight, unexpected twist of fate…After Cesario leaves from
Olivia’s, she declares: yet my state is well; I am a gentleman.” I’ll be
sworn thou art. Thy tongue, thy face, thy limbs, and spirit, do give thee
five-fold blazon. Not too fast: soft, soft! Unless the master were the man. How
now! Even so quickly may one catch the plague? Methinks I feel this youth’s per-
fections with an invisible and subtle stealth to creep in at mine eyes. Well,
let it be. What ho, Malvolio! (212) Olivia, is thinking back to her question to
Cesario, and his response to it. Then she replies to Cesario’s response, to
herself, thinking about him. She agrees with his response, then goes over his
many delightfulfeatures, and wonders how she so quickly has caught the plague of
love for young Cesario. She decides that it is her feeling towards his youthful
perfections that creep into her heart and to her eyes. Then she agrees with her
decision, and sends for Malvolio, in hope that he may recall Cesario, so that
she may talk with him again. Olivia feels a strong passionate love for Cesario,
even though it was love at first sight for her. Cesario presented (himself) very
magnificently and left a lasting impression in Olivia’s mind. The next time that
Cesario came by, Olivia declared: hood, honour, truth and everything, I love
thee so, that, maugre all thy pride, nor wit nor reason can my passion hide.

(224) This verifies that Olivia is profoundly in love with Cesario, despite all
his pride. But, Cesario does not possess the same sentiments for Olivia as he
says: By innocence I swear, and by my youth, I have one heart, one bosom and one
truth, And that no woman has; nor never none shall mistress be of it, save I
alone. And so adieu, good madam. (229) Here, Viola tells Olivia that she could
never love her, nor any other woman because she only has one love (to Orsino)
and is loyal. But, Olivia is still in love, and requests that Cesario return.

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Overall, Viola learns that in the role of Cesario she had to be quick on her
feet, and defend the probing questions and statements as to her love and others
love for her. As well she acquired the skill to bide her time, until the time
was right, lest she reveal her true self or intentions.


Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night Comedic Conflict and Love in Trevor Nunns Twelfth Night Trevor Nunn’s direction of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night takes away some of the confusion present in the reading of the text, which begins with the complicated love interests of the main characters. Having been the artistic director for the world famous Royal Shakespeare Company for eighteen years, Nunn is vastly familiar with adaptations of Shakespeares plays. Part of the comedy of this film develops from the first three acts of the play, which allow for a complex circle of interaction to develop within the film. Nunns use of the prologue at the beginning of the film presents crucial information in an easy to understand, witty way. The films prologue makes clear much of the plays primary confusion, and establishes the foundation on which the rest of the film may balance upon. Nunns adaptation of Twelfth Night begins with the founding relationship in the play, the designs that Orsino expresses for Olivia.

It is clear that this first interaction is the basis for others that occur, and it is also clear that both Shakespeare and Nunn utilize this interaction to create the comedic effects that happen because of the subsequent love interests. Orsino is not just an average courtly love, he is the Duke, and has considerable stature and respectability in his community. It is expected that his love for the Countess Olivia will be reciprocated, even in the midst of her grieving the loss of her brother. However, Duke Orsino’s attempts at contact are met with disdain, but Olivia’s lack of interest does not dissuade Orsino from continuing his pursuit. Duke Orsino is not a skilled romantic. His belief that he can compel Olivia into marriage through the expression of his feelings in messages demonstrates his lack of real passion in the situation and shows that he is of great stature, perhaps to belittle himself with courting. He is not Romeo hiding in the bushes for his Juliet, and this is one of the elements of separation that cause the comedic conflict to occur.

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If Orsino had taken it upon himself to persuade Olivia personally, instead of sending messengers, the outcome of the film would have been significantly altered. Both Shakespeare and Nunn support the importance of Malvolio’s role through the love that he has for himself, as well as his love for Olivia. While Malvolio’s love for Olivia creates a sub plot, including the actions manipulated by Maria’s deception, this only builds on the comedic effect that is created by the other loves that develop. The comedic conflict is further developed in Malvolios Puritanesque wardrobe of his suit and shoes. This comedy seen in Malvolios wardrobe is extended to the end of the film when Malvolio appears wearing bright yellow tights and cross belts.

Malvolio’s character is significant because he at first attempts to bring an air of respectability and chastity to the whole film, though his essential flaws and his inability to recognize the reality of people’s feelings, including Olivia’s, removes him from the position of moral overseer to a simple player in the game of love. Malvolio’s error is related to his self-perceptions and his consideration of his own self-importance, rather than his caring and compassion for his mistress Olivia. The other character of significance is Viola, and she is important in the development of the comedic conflict that occurs. She is a noblewoman who disguises herself as a boy, and becomes a servant of Orsino. Orsino uses Viola as a messenger to persuade the steadfast Olivia to hear his pleas of love.

The problem with this scenario is that in the process of winning a position with Orsino, Viola falls in love with him, thus her voice as a messenger for Orsino is complicated by her own feelings. The comedic conflict of love occurs primarily within this love triangle of Olivia, Orsino and Viola. Olivia falls in love with a girl pretending to be a boy, as Orsino subsequently falls for a boy, who, fortunately for him, is in actuality a girl. Instead of persuading Olivia on Orsino’s behalf, Viola, who is called Cesario as a boy, attacks the love of Olivia, complicating the film. Viola does not immediately recognize the affections of Olivia, but when she does she realizes that Olivia loves someone who does not exist.

Cesario is a vision, an artificial character, and Olivia attaches her very determined sights on Cesario. This issue of disguise is vital to the comedy that occurs since it is the principle in which the comedy stems from. At the same time, Olivia uses Malvolio as a messenger to Viola (Cesario) and this adds to the complexity of these relationships, particularly that of Malvolio and Olivia. It appears that Maria’s trickery is directly related to the feelings that Malvolio expresses for Olivia, because it is implied that Maria once had these same feelings for Malvolio, suggesting that her deception is an act of jealousy. Nunns adaptation of Viola’s character is compelling because it demonstrates that she can feel love on countless levels.

Viola is intelligent, resourceful, witty, and charming. These are the qualities that help her to acquire the love of the Duke as well as the immediate love of Olivia. Viola demonstrates courtly love and romantic love for the Duke Orsino, and this fosters the complications that continue to mount. At the same time, Viola is also capable of feeling compassionate, brotherly love for Olivia, even after recognizing that Olivia loves her as Cesario. Viola deserves to be content with love since she is the only one who really knows what love is. She is the only one who experiences and suffers the true pain of unrequited love, rather than the distorted apparitions of those who are more fascinated with the torment of love, instead of love in its true fashion. Olivia’s love for Viola (Cesario) is derived from her need to make an excuse to ward off Orsino, though Viola’s characterization of a boy is both compelling and attractive.

Olivia is less …


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