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Discuss the dramatic significance of Feste in TwelfthNight.

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Discuss the dramatic significance of Feste in Twelfth Night "Feste is an observer. He sees through people. Though he's a kind of entertainer, who will only perform for money, what he chooses to sing to people is intentionally relevant. People find the truth very hard to deal with: '...Peace, you rogue...here comes my lady'. This story shows people avoiding the truth at every level; Feste's insight" Ben Kingsley on Feste: Twelfth Night by Trevor Nunn Fool. Clown. Words incessantly linked to someone who isn't taken seriously. This is the case with Feste. For example, 'fool' in King Lear was constantly being threatened with hangings and beatings, but this was only as he was a 'witty fool'. Again, with Feste in Twelfth Night, who also is threatened with hangings, due to his absence. Feste doesn't fear this threat, and in fact makes a joke of it; mocking Maria and using a sexual pun at the same time, e.g. 'many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage' This confidence comes from the fact that it wasn't their job to simply provide amusement, but to also make critical comments and provide advice, as Olivia asks him: 'What's a drunken man like, fool?' and since he is an 'allowed fool' he was able to say what he thinks, without fear of punishment: 'there's no slander in an allowed fool'. Feste and Olivia have the most personal relationship, as Feste knew her father. Olivia uses Feste as a friend, advisor and joker. ...read more.


Orsino valued what he said (we know this as he sends Viola to go to Olivia and tell her 'that nature pranks her in attracts my soul not her money'). However, after the song is finished, Feste casts a point blank insight of Orsino, which creates tension, especially with the use of words like 'corpse', 'pain' and '...bones shall be thrown'; words that are associated with death. Causing a melancholy atmosphere in the scene. It's as if the song(s) introduced the sadness, and set the way for Orsino and Viola to discuss love, 'Our shows...will' and 'pang of heart'. Here's a good example of the dramatic significance of Feste- creating tension. With the next scene starting in comedy, the drama in each scene seems heightened due to the immense contrast. Feste's appearance in the play is held off until act 1:iv. His contribution to the play is revealed through: "Wit, an't be thy will...a foolish wit". Indicating Feste's presence is not merely comic relief through foolish acts and show that the role of the fool requires much intelligence, or being a 'wise man', 'a church man' or someone has all their wits about them: 'I wear not motley in my brain'. Feste's most significant song comes at the end. He is left alone on stage to sing it- that seems unusual as he's always sung for people. The situation might echo his actual feelings present in the song: loneliness, toleration, and rejection. In Trevor Nunn's version, the song was evidently melancholy which I felt this was a good insight as it draws a logical link to pathetic fallacy: 'the rain it raineth every day' and 'wind'. ...read more.


The fool in 'King Lear' informs King Lear of the goings behind his back, where he is oblivious to them, but even though he is informing the king, the audience may of also received the message. Conclusion: The 'Twelfth Night' was known as the "Feast of Fools", which is very similar to "Feste the Fool". Making it extremely significant, as the Feast of Fools was a time where a "Lord of Ridicule" was appointed. An Elizabethan audience would of received this (intentional) similarity and therefore see Feste as this Lord of Ridicule. If Feste were this lord, then he would become the master of the household, for this short holiday period, and organise dances, folly, pranks and deceptions, in order to entertain the rest of the household. If which case, it would explain Feste's songs, drunkenness and of course dressing up as Sir Topas- all roles similar to that of a fool. Ironically, Feste is the only person not to be seen as the fool. Olivia is the fool, as she has fallen in love with a woman, Orisino is seen the fool, because Viola has tricked him into thinking she is a man. Sir Andrew comes across as the fool because of his foolish remarks, like taking the word 'ass' literally and believing 'Pigrogromitus'. Malvolio is the fool for dressing up in 'yellow...cross-gartered' stockings In conclusion, what makes the audience happy is the same thing as that which makes them sad, and Feste accomplishes this flawlessly. With his irony, puns, soliloquy, his songs and criticisms- he directs the play in a moving omniscient manner. Hassan Ali English Literature 2001 I ...read more.

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