The Role Of Malvolio In

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The Role Of Malvolio In ‘Twelfth Night’ Essay, Research Paper The play “Twelfth Night” was written by Shakespeare during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the first, and was mainly shown during Epiphany which marks the end of the traditional twelve days of Christmas (hence “Twelfth Night”). The play was written to brighten people up because after Christmas in the 17th century, the food was scarce, and it was dark and cold. Shakespeare probably wrote this comedy to brighten people up during this time of sadness. The Play “Twelfth Night” is a romantic comedy. Although it is termed a ‘comedy’, the essentials of the play are serious. The play’s opening lines sound it’s major theme, which is love, ‘if music be the food of love, play on’. Some form of love

dominates the feelings of all of the major and most of the minor characters, including Malvolio. The play’s first line is spoken by Orsino, who is deeply in love with Olivia. Orsino’s love is purely egotistical as he sees himself as a typical lover, and won’t accept refusal. A misguided kind of love explains Olivia’s feelings for Viola (Cesario). The deception is based on physical appearance, as quoted by Olivia in Act I Scene V, “I feel this youth’s perfections with an invisible, and subtle stealth to creep in at mine eyes. Well, let it be.” Both Orsino and Malvolio are in different ways governed by the ’self-love’ which Olivia accuses Malvolio of at the end of act one scene five. Viola’s love for Orsino is a love which is genuine and selfless, as opposed to

the vain and ambitious love shown by Orsino towards Olivia. Another prominent theme in the play is disguise or mistaken identity. Viola’s disguise is essential to the plot as it enables the audience to know more of the true situation when Olivia and Orsino are on stage, and it is the cause of many of the dramatic complications and confusions which make up the story. Other forms of disguise are featured in the play, not just the physical, like when Olivia’s mourning is quickly discarded when she meets Cesario (Viola). A more sinister form of disguise is shown because you find out that Sir Toby Belch disguises his real motives behind his show of friendship for Sir Andrew Aguecheek. What is meant by the ‘role’ of a character is what the character brings to the play and how

the character affects the plot of the story. This will focus on the key scenes that involve Malvolio and his importance in these scenes. From these, observations on Malvolio’s feelings, and the audience’s reactions to Malvolio’s comments can be conducted. The audience first meet Malvolio quite late in the play, in Act I Scene V. He enters with Olivia which instantly shows the audience that he has some sort of relationship with Olivia. One of his first lines show that he is intolerable of the clown’s joking towards Olivia, and brands the clown as a ‘barren rascal’ and as having ‘no more brain than a stone’. These remarks already show Malvolio as being elitist and Puritanical (The Puritans were a religious group who had condemned theatres and other entertainments

because they thought they had a corrupting influence). The following insult from Olivia labelled Malvolio as ’self-loving’, a common point throughout the play. Later in this scene, the audience discover Malvolio’s main role in the play, as a steward to Olivia, as Malvolio refers to her as ‘Madam’. This is how Malvolio is introduced in the play, but is later seen as an ‘ogre’ figure, and a centre of ridicule. The image of Malvolio as a kind of powerful, ogre-like figure is pronounced in Act II Scene III, when Malvolio catches Sir Toby and Sir Andrew commencing a drinking session in the middle of the night. Malvolio thoroughly disapproves of this act and scolds them for their lack of manners and respect for others, and for making a vulgar ‘alehouse’ of his