• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Shakespeare present the role of Feste in Twelfth Night?

Extracts from this document...


How does Shakespeare present the role of "Feste" in Twelfth Night? In William Shakespeare's comedy Twelfth Night the character of Feste is a solitary wit surrounded by fools. His occupation is that of Olivia's paid fool, which she inherited from her father, 'Feste the jester... a fool that the Lady Olivia's father took much pleasure in.' This long standing relationship may be the reason he seems to have a status higher than that of a servant within the household, and appears to leave and return at will without fear of punishment, 'Tell me where thou hast been or my lady will hang thee...Let her hang me.' This may also be because of Elizabethan attitudes towards allowed fools, who had gained popularity due to their presence in many royal courts. Feste`s palpable intelligence is an integral part of his role, as he uses it to communicate the subtext of Shakespeare`s complicated plot to both the other characters and the audience. It is therefore ironic that the fool is so frequently said to be dishonest, 'Y`are a dry fool: I`ll take no more of you. Besides, you grow dishonest,' as throughout the play he does nothing but divulge truths. His cleverness is immediately apparent upon his first appearance for several different reasons. If he were not a fool then he would have no other way of making money, thus his decision to ingratiate himself once more ...read more.


The clown sings no fewer than seven songs throughout the play, and although the other characters see them as nothing more than a convenient source of entertainment, many have an underlying foresight far beyond the grasp of a mere jester. Feste sings his first song upon Sir Toby and Sir Andrews requests for a love song. The first verse appears to be about Olivia, and demonstrates Feste`s keen perception of the other characters and his uncanny knowledge of future events, 'O mistress mine, where are you roaming?' This shows Feste`s knowledge of Olivia's roaming heart, searching for its true love. 'O stay and hear, your true loves coming.' This line perfectly foreshadows future events, as Olivia finds love not whilst searching for it, but by it finding her in the form of Sebastian. Feste then proceeds to encapsulate the plays plot within one line of his song, 'Journeys end in lovers meeting.' This suggests that he may be ubiquitous, as his knowledge is not only of the future, but of the past events as well. It could however just be referring to the metaphorical journeys the characters have been on in their search for love, not the literal journey Viola and Sebastian have undertaken to Illyria. The second verse of his song appears to be addressed to Sir Toby, regarding his thus far secret love for Maria. ...read more.


It is for this reason Feste`s superior attitude and actions towards him are understandable, and instead of serving to make the reader dislike Feste, it causes them to empathise with him as it shows his more human side that had previously been hidden beneath his sharp wit. In the style of a true narrator the last word (or indeed words) of Twelfth Night belong to Feste, who merges his dual roles, and delivers them in song format. It appears to be a rather dismal song for a clown, as it suggests that every day brings misery, 'For the rain it raineth every day.' This may be because the other characters have gone, leaving him alone with the audience, to whom he can deliver a last message. Feste`s final lesson appears to suggest that life is plagued with misery, therefore, like the characters in Twelfth Night, you should embrace happiness in whatever form it takes because it may not last. Shakespeare presents the role of Feste as a paradox: the wisest character of the play is the paid fool. Throughout Twelfth Night Feste directs, entertains and criticizes the other characters through his revealing songs and witty wordplay, and at the same time makes them reflect on their current circumstances. This is a similar relationship that Shakespeare, as a playwright, would have had with his audience, and it creates a parallel between the writer and his creation. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Twelfth Night section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Twelfth Night essays

  1. Cruelty in "Twelfth Night" - an examination of Shakespeare's comedy's darker side.

    Toby says this because he enjoys Andrew's riches, and uses it as a source for his drinking. Maria says exactly what they both believe but Toby Belch obviously feels obliged to defend his "friend", eventually though Sir Toby agrees with Maria and says that he is a foolish man, "He

  2. How does Shakespeare explore the theme of deception and self-deception in Twelfth Night?

    the whole world to know that she is mourning for her dead brother. This act of over-indulgence of love shown for her brother leads to self-dramatization of her own self. From this act of grieving for her brother we can see that she is being very emotional here, expressing her emotions excessively.

  1. How Does Shakespeare Present Aspects of Folly in Twelfth Night

    foolery because in Shakepeare's day there would be no possibility of any sort of romance between Malvolio and Olivia, Malvolio being a mere steward and Olivia being a wealthy countess, the status contrast is simply too immense. When Malvolio reads the letter, Malvolio begins to fall in love with the idea of being in love .

  2. What part does deception of one kind or another play in Twelfth Night?

    Later Feste delivers the cruellest blow when he disguises himself as Sir Topas, the curate. Here Malvolio endures his greatest suffering as his sanity is questioned and his limits tested. Without their scheme to get square with Malvolio, we would not see him suffer or discover his other side as discussed earlier.

  1. Cruelty in "Twelfth Night"

    moustaches you can not tell the difference between them in the slightest which gives acceptance to the fact of Olivia's not being able to tell them apart. The ship then starts to flood and they are in a storm, they are thrown over board still together and you can see

  2. Discuss the dramatic significance of Feste in Twelfth Night.

    On the outside he seems to be the joker to mask the fact that possibly he feels lonely, but does appear emotionally stable unlike other characters, Orsino or Olivia who love the idea of being in love. Olivia vowed she would not fall in love for seven years while she

  1. Discuss the different kinds of love presented in the play.

    and also in her silence. She does not indulge in public displays of affection like Olivia. Rather her love is silent yet strong and powerful as may be observed in the soliloquy which ends the scene in a rhyming couplet "Yet a barful strife!

  2. The Dramatic Importance of Act 1 Scenes 1 and 2 referring to other parts ...

    However this makes this scene emotionally charged thereby adding to its dramatic importance. At first the audience are given a picture of Viola's sorrow by 'what should I do in Illyria? My brother he is in Elysium'. However this quickly turns into an image of hope and courage when she says 'mine own escape unfoldeth to my hope'.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work