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Is the Twelfth Night too dark to be considered a comedy.
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Is the Twelfth Night too dark to be considered a comedy.



Exploring the role of Malvolio in the Twelfth Night and whether this adds a tragic element.

Exploring the role of Malvolio in the Twelfth Night and whether this adds a tragic element.



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    Is the Twelfth Night too dark to be considered a comedy. Is the Twelfth Night too dark to be considered a comedy. Presentation Transcript

    • Malvolio is introduced as Olivia’s servant. He believes he is superior to the other servants particularly Feste. “I marvel your ladyship takes delight in such a barren rascal;”-Act 1, Scene 5. Malvolio is also labelled a puritan as he doesn’t like the others celebrating and drinking late into the night.
    • “my masters are you mad or what are you? Have you no wit, manners, nor honesty but to gabble like tinkers at this tie of night? Do ye make an alehouse of my lady’s house… is there no respect of place, persons, nor time in you?...Mistress Mary….she shall know of it by this hand” Use of interrogatives. Use of triads. Act 2, scene 3.
    • • Olivia • You are sick of self-love. • Take those things for bird bolts that you deem cannon bullets. • Act 1, scene 3 • Andrew Aguecheek • If I thought that I’d beat him like a dog • Act 2, scene 5 • Maria • The devil a puritan that he is or anything constantly but a time pleaser: an affectioned ass….it is his grounds of faith that all that look on him love him. Act 2, scene 5.
    • They leave the letter for him near a tree. Malvolio finds it, reads it. Malvolio believes Olivia is in love with him and follows the instructions: wears yellow stockings and smiles at her. Olivia thinks he’s mad. Feste takes him to a dark cell. Feste pretends to be a priest and taunts him. Eventually Malvolio is released and the prank is revealed to Olivia. Malvolio, unhappy and angry, plans revenge. Olivia accepts he has been mistreated “thou hast been much abused”.
    • Is Malvolio too badly treated for the Twelfth Night to be considered a comedy or does he deserve it?
    • Stereotype of a Religious and He is Puritan. Elizabethan demonstrating audience would one of the expect him to be seven deadly the alternative fool sins of pride of the play. . Malvolio tries to change his status-the Elizabethan audience would see this as a further sign of arrogance: “count Malvolio” and rejecting his status given to him by God- The Elizabethan Chain of Being. He attempts to transgress his status.
    • Even when he thinks he will be Count, he becomes more arrogant and more proud. Dramatic Irony
    • “Comedy sets out to imitate men who are worse than average”. • Is an imitation of the inferior people-Malvolio. Comedy has three • The laughable is a species of what is disgraceful-Malvolio. elements: • Does not involve pain or destruction-Is Malvolio hurt?
    • Comedy has a function to mock killjoy and authority figures who prevent merrymak ing. Barber: Shakespeare an comedies should be read in the light of village marriages, wassails or wakes. The prank played on Malvolio should be taken lightly. He is a ‘killjoy figure’ and deserves to be mocked as shown by the visual slapstick comedy of yellow cross-gartered stockings.
    • Believes Olivia loves him and doesn’t question it. Made funnier by the fact that he “insists upon wearing straitlaced and sober dark clothes until he is gulled into wearing ‘yellow stockings and crossgartered’ page 30. -Slapstick visual comedy: wears yellow stockings -Uses bawdy language- “To bed? Ay sweetheart; and I’ll come to thee”.
    • As he cannot speak in iambic pentameter when expressing his love for Olivia: “Not black in my mind, though yellow in my legs”-has 11 syllables not 10. Perhaps suggests his love is forced and fake. He is in love with Olivia’s status as shown by the metonyms “Brancht velvet gown…”
    • Misrule permitted a temporary suspension of the normal rules. Bad and comic behaviour was toleratedOlivia says “There is no slander/in an allowed fool”. Dramatic Comedy is a way of tolerating dissent and discontentment to prevent rioting or revolutionary behaviour: playing a prank on Malvolio is acceptable.
    • Complain to Olivia Make fun of him in a lighthearted way. React angrily
    • • Old World-A world belonging to older people or parental figures: repressive/urban. Events before the ship-wreck. Malvolio tries to end feasting. • Green World-World of freedom: a non-urban environment-Twins are separated and Viola is free to dress up as a man. Disguise. Malvolio is tricked. • New World-Created out of the resolution in the playA world which has learnt from its past mistakes and resolves problems-symbolised by marriage-Multiple marriages. Malvolio is released. Does Malvolio learn his lesson-is he still proud?
    • » McCulloch page 15-Equally, the two characters who remain loveless to the end are incapable of real passion : Aguecheek is too scared and spineless to seek love, Malvolio too proud and spiteful to feel it…he aspires towards an illusory ideal of love but his mistake is grosser than theirs and his posturings more extravagant and grotesque…his fate may seem harsh but it is part of the ethical scheme of comedy that those who cannot perceive their own faults are exposed and punished for their folly…Olivia is capable of learning and Malvolio is not.
    • Malvolio doesn’t learn a lesson-He is still proud and boastful: “I’ll be revenged upon the whole pack of you” He looks down on everyone and views them as animals.
    • “Malvolio duly exposes himself to ridicule in his yellow stockings and cross-gartering and is then confined in a darkened room, a frequently regrettable development, often explained or excused by the Elizabethans’ love of bearbaiting…”. In fact contrary to the intention of Malvolio’s tormenters, this is potentially a very humane situation”-Butler 1995 page 27.
    • According to Aristotle: Comedy should not involve pain or destruction. “ they have laid me here in hideous darkness”. Malvolio thought he was following Olivia’s wishes-after reading the letter and when he was telling the others to go to sleep and stop making noise. “ My lady bade me tell you that…”-Act 1 scene 5. Toby Belch uses an imperative: Malvolio is viewed like an object “pistol him, pistol him, hit him in the eye”-Act 2, scene 5.
    • Malvolio unwittingly admits to his crimes “I’m in darkness”. This represents the physical darkness and perhaps his mental darkness and anguish and possibly his own character as dark. It is the only time we see Malvolio as human.
    • » The main hero/character has a hamartia known as a fatal flaw. » The hamartia of Malvolio is pride. But every character also has a fatal flaw-is Malvolio singled out? » Does Malvolio feel discriminated against-Does the use of the word “pack” indicate show that he is a victim of an animal like attack. » According to Bakhtin the purpose of comedy is to subvert the rules and to create equality. Is Malvolio ever treated equally? Is equality only possible to a modern audience?
    • How are particular social groups marginalised? Malvolio to a modern audience is discriminated against for his beliefs which suggests to a modern audience Malvolio plays a tragic role and adds an element of darkness. Andrew Aguecheek- Act 2 scene 3: “If I thought that I’d beat him like a dog….I have no exquisite reason for ‘t but I have reason good enough”. He is discriminated against because he is a puritan, because he is Olivia’s steward and because he is ambitious-Marxism: is anyone oppressed because of class.
    • Maria marries Sir Toby-suggests that she is ambitious and she transgresses her rank. Olivia comments “There is no slander in an allowed fool”. The fool’s role in Shakespearean comedies is to point out the faults of people particularly upper classes and to tell the truth. Does Feste go beyond this?
    • » Feste is just as nasty to Malvolio-He taunts Malvolio as Sir Topas and is just as nasty in Act 1, scene 5: “he will not pass his word for twopence that you are no fool”. He blames time for the way Malvolio is treated “thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenges” i.e. it’s karma. » Whirligig is a double entendre-it has two meanings: ˃ a child’s spinning top. ˃An instrument of punishment and torture, a cage spun on a pivot so as to induce extreme sickness and vertigo in its captive. » Is Feste having the last laugh?