Essay Analysis of Malvolio in the Twelfth Night by Shakespeare

Essay Analysis of Malvolio in the Twelfth Night by Shakespeare

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The character of Malvolio is treated too cruelly for Twelfth Night to be classed as a comedy. Malvolio is constantly humiliated and has some of the major elements of a tragic character. The revenge served to him is extremist and is not an equal reaction to his behavior.

Malvolio's puritan nature and extreme unwillingness to be social with his peers upsets certain characters more than others. Sir Toby and Maria show carelessness for his person as he has a strict adherence to rules, contrasting with their blatant disregard for rules and discipline this is conveyed through the line “Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?” Sir Toby mocks Malvolio's puritanical strictness and restriction. The term 'cakes and ale' refers to the good things of life- This is predominant as Malvolio's intentions are good, he wants the characters to lead a life of holiness and restraint. However he also forbids things that are good such as, festivities and music (linking to the title 'Twelfth Night'). The contrasting morals between Malvolio and Sir Toby are crucial in the play as this is the initial cause of the downfall of Malvolio. Malvolio advocates restriction, whilst Sir Toby favours excess.
At the end of the play all characters endure the consequences of their foolishness, however Malvolio endures a greater anguish and much greater embarrassment than the rest of the characters, resulting with him swearing revenge on the characters “I’ll be revenged on the whole pack of you” leading to the conflict caused being unresolved, this connects to Warrens statement as Malvolio does not retaliate against the characters and finally storms off swearing revenge, this adds another element of tragedy as the conflict is...


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...iences feel sympathetic for his character and the mistreatment of him in Twelfth Night.
In conclusion, the violence in the treatment of Malvolio in Twelfth Night is equally comical as it is cruel. However the play did not end in a resolution for the unlucky character and although the festive and comic spirit of Twelfth Night is noted throughout the play, the distress and the inconceivable persecution, Malvolio receives is a disturbing reminder of reality and the way that his ‘insanity’ and egotistical behavior was unjustly treated. Shakespeare criticizes puritans through his character and in order for the audience to take a disliking to the character of Malvolio, However by the end of the play audiences pity and sympathize with his unfortunate character. Ultimately the play has tragic potential, but the Malvolio subplot also makes comedy possible for the main plot.

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