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A Consideration of the Role of Feste in Twelfth Night

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Introduction

A Consideration of the Role of Feste in Twelfth Night Shakespeare portrays Feste as a well-drawn, wise, cunning, adaptable character. His character is used in Twelfth Night to reflect on the actions and emotions of the others by keeping himself at a distance from the other characters and not becoming emotionally involved in any of the plots at the beginning of the play. Feste subtly conveys his messages and thoughts through his songs to the audience about the other characters in the play. He reveals in his songs that Orsino is "roaming" after the wrong love in his pursuit of Olivia. Feste somewhat becomes the narrator of the play by commenting on actions that occur within the play and foreshadowing events. When Feste first enters into the play he has been absent from Olivia's court a long time and must now return into her favour. He does not want to listen to what Maria says to him and using his quick wit manages to answer her. Feste demonstrates his quick wit and ability to juggle words effectively when he says: Let her hang me; he that is well hanged in this world needs to fear no colours.

Middle

Even when he uses music he acts in his capacity as the fool for the house and is secretly wording the advice he would give to certain other characters in the play should he be allowed to tell them. This illustrates his perceptiveness and ability to adapt to any situation no matter what he is supposed to do. Feste's perceptiveness is used as a device to remember what has happened in Twelfth Night without becoming too involved in the play and not seeing the bigger perspective. Sir Andrew is revealed as even more ignorant than Sir Toby has already portrayed him as Feste uses his skills at juggling words to make up new words, which seem real and genuine to Sir Andrew. Feste uses his role as the fool to poke fun at Sir Andrew and sets him up for further humiliation later on because Sir Andrew stores the words Feste uses in his memory and later uses them in any context to try and convince everyone of his intelligence. As Twelfth Night is a play all about foolery and based on the Feast of Fools it is fitting that Feste should make fun of the lesser characters of the play, which somehow make the audience laugh at them as well.

Conclusion

Feste's final song seems to be a perfect ending to Twelfth Night. While this song contains many silly words and phrases designed to make people laugh, it does have a serious side to it that suggest that love and marriage are not the only things in life and that there is not always a happy ending. The song goes through the life cycle from a "little tiny boy" and reverts all the way back around again to when the "world begun". It seems to be about Feste's life in particular and his choice to become a fool. He is saying that becoming a fool was his only way to survive because he could not have succeeded any other way. Shakespeare uses Feste as someone to reflect and a way to end the play fittingly. In Twelfth Night, the fools are the ones that control the comedy and humour in the play. They assist in the make believe game and fool around with characters who "evade reality or rather realize a dream". This makes Feste a pivotal character in Twelfth Night as without him many other things could have happened and a lot less humour and jokes would have occurred. 1 Kerri Tredway 10B5 1

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