The Truth About Foolishness Essay Research Paper

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The Truth About Foolishness Essay, Research Paper “The Truth About Foolishness” in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. William Shakespeare used a unique device to explain how foolishness is an unavoidable part of everyday life. He employed many specific examples of foolishness in his comedy play titled Twelfth Night. Each of the characters he created were all foolish in one way or another. Not only do the characters entertain the audience, but also educate the audience as they portray mankind avoiding obvious truth. Shakespeare takes a humorous approach to expose the ways we fall prey to pride, vanity and self-deception. As the story unfolds, the characters discover their faults before they can do any real harm to themselves or anyone else. Fortunately, only embarrassment or

humiliation are the result. Combinations of comedy, personality and irony are all qualities each character reveals to exhibit the many types of fools we can all be. The most common type of fool in society is usually the simpleton, or a “natural” fool. Sir Andrew Aguecheek is an excellent example. Although Sir Andrew is funny, it is not intentional. His faults include a lack of wit, a tendency to be easily amused, and the opportunity to be manipulated by others to be accepted. His foolishness is revealed innocently, as he considers himself a gentleman. His attempts to flirt with Maria by showing how clever he is fail when Sir Toby advises him to accost, in other words, to woo her. Sir Andrew thinks “accost” is her name as he addresses her, “Good Mistress Mary Accost-”

(I, III, 54). After his embarrassing introduction to Maria, Sir Andrew tries to salvage his dignity by laughing at himself as he says, “Methinks sometimes I have no more wit than a Christian or an ordinary man has. But I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit” (I, III, 83-86). It is clear that Sir Andrew is easily taken advantage of at his expense. Another way foolishness is exposed, is through love. For example, Malvolio loves nobody but himself. Although he is Olivia’s household servant, he considers himself better than others. It is his vanity, arrogance, and pride that causes Malvolio to act foolishly. Olivia says, “O, you are sick of self love, Malvolio, and taste with a distempered appetite” (I, V, 89-90). Even though Olivia values him as

a servant, she acknowledges his vanity. Malvolio is also jealous of anyone that considers themselves clever. This is evident during his power-struggle with Sir Toby as he attempts to spoil any fun or enjoyment in Olivia’s household. Sir Toby questions, “Art any more than a steward? Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale” (II, III, 113-15)? Here Sir Toby confronts him by attacking Malvolio’s view of self importance, and asking if everyone must act like him. Malvolio is much more successful at fooling himself than he is at deceiving others. This self-deception makes him the perfect target for Maria and Sir Toby’s joke. They forge a letter which leads Malvolio to believe that he may obtain the social status he dreams of. The letter

appeals to Malvolio’s true nature as he claims, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em” (II,V, 149-50). He is ignorant to the fact that he makes a complete fool of himself as he acts out the absurd instructions. It was simple human nature that caused Malvolio’s humiliation. He wanted to believe the letter would allow him to better himself. Therefore, he considered it permission to show the way he truly feels. Unlike the other characters, he simply cannot recognize his own faults or laugh at himself. Malvolio vows, “I’ll be revenged on the whole pack of you” (V,I, 401)! As long as he clings to his embarrassment and anger, he will not forgive and forget. Shakespeare did not forget to include accepted foolishness by