‘Malvolio’, meaning ‘I wish evil’, describes perfectly the tensions in ‘Twelfth Night’, especially in the sub-plot involving Maria and Sir Toby. Though Malvolio brings their dislike of him on himself, ‘he is sick of self love’, the way in which Sir Toby and Maria ‘revenge’ themselves on Malvolio seems unnecessarily cruel, ‘I will fool him black and blue’. Rather than stopping at foolery, Sir Toby is determined to cause physical harm, as if driving Malvolio to the near end of sanity is not enough. This...
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...it does not seem as if the characters will simply live happily without continuing the cycle of revenge. Shakespeare shows the intricacies of humanity and in ‘Twelfth Night’ the dominance of the ‘darker’ side, echoing Freud in his belief that human nature consists of good overpowering bad, yet containing bad all the same. Even for the ‘all licensed fool’ there is very little happiness to be found in the ‘corruption’ of Illyria and ‘it’s all the same’ is significant as it shows hopelessness on the part of Feste regarding the activities in Illyria. The Victorian renaming of ‘Twelfth Night’ is therefore appropriate in that although in appearance it is a well meaning comedy, Shakespeare concluded that ‘Nothing that is so, is so’ and in the case of ‘Twelfth Night’ where ‘high fantastical’ is seated alongside ‘sick… self love’, ‘Malvolio’ embodies the spirit of the play.
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