It is not unusual that the fool should be a prominent figure and make an important contribution in forming the confusion and the humor in an Elizabethan drama. In William Shakespeare's comedy, Twelfth Night, Feste the clown is not the only fool who is subject to foolery. He and many other characters combine their silly acts and wits to invade other characters that either escape reality or live a dream. In Twelfth Night, Feste, Maria and Sir Toby are the fools that make the comedy work in many senses.
In Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Feste's role in this Illyrian comedy is significant because "Illyria is a country permeated with the spirit of the Feast of Fools, where identities are confused, "uncivil rule" applauded...and no harm is done" (source page #). "In Illyria therefore the fool is not so much a critic of his environment as a ringleader, a merry-companion, a Lord of Misrule. Being equally welcome above and below stairs" (source page #). This makes Feste significant as a character. Feste plays the role of a humble clown employed by Olivia's father playing the licensed fool of their household. We learn this in Olivia's statement stating that Feste is "an allowed fool"(I.v.93) meaning he is licensed, privileged critic to speak the truth of the people around him. We also learn in a statement by Curio to the Duke that Feste is employed by Olivia's father. "Feste t...
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...ke William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night a really funny Elizabethan play.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Bloom, Harold, ed. William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.
Grief, Karen. "Plays and Playing in Twelfth Night". Bloom (47-60).
Nevo, Ruth. Comic Transformations in Shakespeare. London: Methuen & Co., 1980.
Shakespeare, William. The Arden Edition of the Works of William Shakespeare: Twelfth Night. Ed. J. M. Lothian UK: Methuen & Co., 1975.
Thatcher, David. Begging to Differ: Modes of Discrepancy in Shakespeare. New York: Peter Lang, 1999.
Vickers, Brian. Appropriating Shakespeare: Contemporary Critical Quarrels. New Haven: Yale U P, 1993
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