William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: Feste Essay

William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: Feste Essay

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Trevor Nunn’s (1996) adaptation of Twelfth Night illustrates the complexity of Feste’s character and how important he is to the overall play. Ben Kingsley, the actor, presents Feste as sympathetic and gentle choric figure. It is Feste who allows the audience to see the films respect for the original play, and the existing issues within it. This includes the defencelessness of women, and the attractive, but dangerous, qualities of altering one’s true sexual identity. Interestingly, unlike the original script, Nunn opens his first scene with Feste observing Viola struggle to shore after the shipwreck she has experienced. In this context, Kingsley’s Feste is revealed for the first time. He is shown as a mysterious and isolated individual, who stands afar, waiting and observing, high up among the towering cliffs. He only chuckles and hums a tune, as he silently watches Viola mourn. He holds no facial expression, neither teary nor auspicious and his physical appearance does not represent a common Jester in Elizabethan times. In view of Feste’s silent observation of Viola, one is able to speculate some sort of connection between the two characters. Given that he is a compassionate man, he is not taken aback by what the world has evolved to nor does he accept its change. He shows interest in the obstacles Viola faces as a woman stranded on unfamiliar soil, and wonders about her ability to remain strong after witnessing the brutal loss of her brother. However, what seems to captivate his attention is her ability to maintain the role of a man in a country at war. The true question running through his mind is can she do it? It is through this that one is able to see Feste’s knowledge of women’s ability to achieve higher than their limited p...


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...ality. Given that he is a part of both the main and sub plot, he merges the different scenes in the play, guiding the audience is able to analyze the different characters and their oblivious personalities. He also helps the characters themselves by having them understand how foolish some of their behaviour truly is. He awakens Olivia from her ridiculous and unrealistic mourning over her brother’s death, make’s Orsino realize truly how foolish he is for being love-sick for a woman who does not love him in return, and makes Malvolio look like a mad fool.


Work Cited

Shakespeare, William, and Sylvan Barnet. The Complete Signet Classic Shakespeare. General Editor: Sylvan Barnet. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972. Print.
Twelfth Night. Dir. Trevor Nunn. Perf. Helena Bonham Carter, Richard E. Grant and Imogen Stubbs. Fine Line Features, 1996. Videocassette.

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