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The Role of Feste

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This explores the role and presentation of Feste in Twelfth Night.

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The Role of Feste

  1. 1. The Role of Feste
  2. 2. Feste has several roles Stereotypical Fool-expect him to be merry, someone who makes jokes. Advisor Replaces the Greek Chorus-comments on the play and the characters in the play. Disguised participant Does he only bring joy to the Twelfth Night?
  3. 3. fool (n.) late 13c., "silly or stupid person," from Old French fol "madman, insane person; idiot; rogue; jester," also "blacksmith's bellows," also an adjective meaning "mad, insane" (12c., Modern French fou), from Latin follis "bellows, leather bag" (see follicle); in Vulgar Latin used with a sense of "windbag, empty-headed person." Cf. also Sanskrit vatula- "insane," literally "windy, inflated with wind." The word has in mod.Eng. a much stronger sense than it had at an earlier period; it has now an implication of insulting contempt which does not in the same degree belong to any of its synonyms, or to the derivative foolish. [OED] Meaning "jester, court clown" first attested late 14c., though it is not always possible to tell whether the reference is to a professional entertainer or an amusing lunatic on the payroll.
  4. 4. clown (n.) 1560s, also cloyne, "rustic, boor, peasant," origin uncertain. Perhaps from Scandinavian dialect (cf. Icelandic klunni "clumsy, boorish fellow;" Swedish kluns "a hard knob, a clumsy fellow"), or akin to North Frisian klönne "clumsy person," or, less likely, from Latin colonus "colonist, farmer." Meaning "fool, jester" is c.1600. "The pantomime clown represents a blend of the Shakes[pearean] rustic with one of the stock types of the It. comedy" [Weekley]. Meaning "contemptible person" is from 1920s.
  5. 5. jester (n.) mid-14c., jestour (Anglo-Latin), late 14c., gestour "a minstrel, professional reciter of romances," agent noun from gesten "recite a tale," which was a jester's original function (see jest). Sense of "buffoon in a prince's court" is from c.1500.
  6. 6. Feste as a stock character "In Illyria therefore the fool is not so much a critic of his environment as a ringleader, a merry-companion, a Lord of Misrule (field of themes.com)” Link this to the context-Feste symbolises the Twelfth Night-a time of joy and festivity. The audience would expect him to be funny and to provide the humour.
  7. 7. As a stock character Carnival, Bakhtin argues: absolutises nothing, but rather proclaims the joyful relativity of everything i.e. the loss of standards/rules. And a key means of proclaiming the relativity of everything in Shakespeare’s comedies is the figure of the fool. No such matter, sir. I do live by the church; for I do live at my house, and my house doth stand by the church.
  8. 8. Feste pushes boundaries • He has no status or rank-He is not bound by rules. • He makes fun of people whatever their rank. • He is witty: • The use of bawdy language: Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage, and, for turning away, let summer bear it out. Double entendres and puns-I live by the church • “Take away the fool”. Do you not hear, fellows? Take away the lady”.
  9. 9. Is he Malvolio‟s foil- “Feste calls words „a cheveril glove…This lays emphasis on his mockery of those who adopt pious or moralising attitudes to speech. Malvolio is the immediate target but perhaps he also has in mind the puritan obsession with straight talking („let your yea be yea and your nay, nay‟). He pretends to be a corrupter of words and calls them wanton. He mocks Sebastian‟s use of „vent‟ thus drawing attention to the young man‟s over-fancy vocabulary…Other people‟s fancy phrases are a regular target for Feste‟s mockery…”
  10. 10. The fool creates laughter The aim of laughter: Sir Philip Sidney gives a similar suggestion in his Elizabethan The Defence of Poetry: laughter is „a scornful tickling‟ in which we laugh either at „sinful things‟ we should reject, or at „miserable‟ things we should pity. Laughter, as the modernist French philosopher Henri Bergson put it two centuries later, is „a corrective‟ which seeks to remedy behaviour that is out of line..
  11. 11. Feste is clever and seems omniscient “I wear not motley in my brain”. To be witty requires intelligence. • He has no rank-he moves between Orsino‟s household and Olivia‟s household. • He tricks Olivia: Feste: Good madonna, give me leave to prove you a fool. OLIVIA I know his soul is in heaven, fool. FOOL The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your brother‟s soul being in heaven. Take away the fool, gentlemen.
  12. 12. Feste knows Viola is in disguise Feste: “Now Jove in his next commodity of hair, send thee a beard!” Viola:By my troth, I‟ll tell thee, I am almost sick for one, (aside) though I would not have it grow on my chin. (to fool) Is thy lady within? The matter, I hope, is not great, sir, begging but a beggar. Cressida was a beggar. My lady is within, sir. I will construe to them whence you come. Who you are and what you would are out of my welkin, I might say “element,” but the word is overworn.
  13. 13. • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSRLK7SogvE
  14. 14. Does Feste replace the Greek chorus? The Greek chorus: A group of around 15 people. Used to tell a story to the audience – provide background information or summarise to the audience. Would often begin and end the play. Supposed to represent the general population. Share secrets with the audience that the main characters cannot – sometimes share with the main characters too.
  15. 15. The Greek Chorus Uses Rhyme Sometimes speak their lines in unison. Actions had to be really exaggerated because Greek Theatres were so big! Voices had to be really clear – pronouncing every letter Often used masks to show emotions.
  16. 16. Romeo and Juliet Modern Version used a newsreader-what does this suggest? Comedy: The Wasps: Chorus are people dressed as wasps. Famous Choruses Medea-Killed her children as revenge against her husband Les Miserables: Look Down.. The Prisoners could be The Chorus. Do you hear the people sing…
  17. 17. For example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= gMYNfQlf1H8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wzv4JJOs4w0&lis t=PLqDRx4dDt_zY87eTSAyY4dqlKc0Jxq1As http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xawp9co17Z 4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6467brmAwrU
  18. 18. Feste is “the comic truth” rather than the comedy. Comments on characters like the Greek Chorus. Seems to understand what‟s going on. The only one that doesn‟t change-comedies are about learning a lesson-Feste understands life as revealed through his songs.
  19. 19. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= Nfs7EJZc1l4 When that I was and a little tiny boy, With hey, ho, the wind and the rain, A foolish thing was but a toy, For the rain it raineth every day. But when I came to man’s estate, With hey, ho, the wind and the rain, 'Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate, For the rain it raineth every day. But when I came, alas! to wive, With hey, ho, the wind and the rain.
  20. 20. By swaggering could I never thrive, For the rain it raineth every day. But when I came unto my beds, With hey, ho, the wind and the rain, With toss-pots still had drunken heads, For the rain it raineth every day. A great while ago the world begun, With hey, ho, the wind and the rain, But that’s all one, our play is done, And we’ll strive to please you every day.
  21. 21. Feste ends Twelfth Night. His song is the denouement. When that I was and a little tiny boy. “This final song runs flippantly through the cycle of a man‟s life and ultimately through all of human history. If we are intended to take the words seriously, Feste‟s ditty is quite disturbing. With the coming of adulthood, we sacrifice any delusions of pride and eventually a perpetual state of drunkenness. Seems rather bleak, but “that‟s all one”. The final stanza reminds the audience that this is merely a play whose intention is purely to entertain..Once again we are reminded that nothing in Twelfth Night is to be taken seriously, including Feste‟s pessimistic prediction for our future as a species of loveless drunkards. Life goes on, the community will continue, and the rain will continue to fall everyday. What becomes of each individual is of very little consequence.
  22. 22. Sir Toby may claim that „care is an enemy to life‟ but as Graham Holderness argues Feste knows that, in fact care is a condition of life. Death is never far away in Feste‟s songs and is the only absolute; as he tells Orsino „pleasure will be paid, one time or another‟.
  23. 23. But Feste doesn’t just add joy. He is not only the Greek chorus. Does he go too far in creating humour and adds tragedy. Does he go too far?
  24. 24. Feste dresses up as Sir Topas • Is Feste actually switching roles or being himself: A priest advises, Feste advises throughout the play. • Malvolio turns into the fool-wears yellow tights. • Feste points out that Malvolio is in darknesshe makes Malvolio confess-Is this to cover up his own failings as a fool to make Malvolio realise his fault-Is he an effective fool?
  25. 25. “He argues with Malvolio but is absent when the trick is played; although a disguised participant in the dark room cruelty, he is also the steward‟s means of escape”. Why does Feste dress as a priest even though Malvolio can‟t see him?
  26. 26. Malvolio is forced to be a fool • Yellow stockings cross-gartered. • “smilest thou”. • Uses bawdy language. • The irony is Malvolio feels humiliated and is turned into his enemy-the fool.
  27. 27. Are there other fools “Shakespeare‟s Fools are wildcards: they can mingle wit, nonsense, wisdom and poetry and their free-range behaviour permits them to speak like sages and madmen to kings and madmen with equal ease. Twelfth Night has both a Fool and a fool. Feste has no property or position and he begs for coins, but we admire him for his verbal precision and his steely character. He is no simple-minded fool. Sir Andrew Aguecheek, though, who has both money and position, is a fool but we love him for his dancing and partying, his clumsiness with words and for believing he has a chance with Olivia…Neither is he the least bit wise, Sir Andrew is an innocent-which Feste is not-and innocence is not wise”.

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