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Act 2 scene 5 of "Twelfth Night" makes for delightfully funny theatre. Give a detailed account of the scene, focussing particularly on its humour.

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Introduction

Act 2 scene 5 of "Twelfth Night" makes for delightfully funny theatre. Give a detailed account of the scene, focussing particularly on its humour. Illyria is William Shakespeare's illusory world of drama and delirium, an impulsive world of mistaken identities and misdirected passions, a world which exists only in the imagination, a world where dreams are realised, fantasies are worked out and lessons are learned. "Twelfth Night", the last of Shakespeare's romantic comedies, takes place in the kingdom of Illyria where almost everyone "noble" has fallen is love with someone inappropriate to their rank and nearly all of the underlings have forgotten their place. It is considered to be one of the most delightful of Shakespeare's comedies. It allows Shakespeare to give "experiences to characters, settings and characterisation, and also reflects on the idea of Twelfth Night." "Twelfth Night" is usually considered to be a reference to epiphany, on the twelfth night after Christmas. In Elizabethan times, this holiday was celebrated as a festival in which everything was turned upside down - much like this upside-down, chaotic world of Illyria in the play. ...read more.

Middle

Malvolio's desire to rise above his station in life feeds his imagination to a ridiculous degree and explains why Sir Toby and the others find his fantasy so ludicrous. Malvolio is an unsuitable match for Olivia not only because he is not of noble blood. He is a commoner, while Olivia is a gentlewoman. As such, it seems so obscene to them that Malvolio would imagine Olivia marrying him. In the class system of Shakespeare's time, it would have seemed very strange for a noblewoman to marry below her rank. Malvolio finds the forged letter from Olivia that seems to offer hope to his ambitions, using Olivia's seal "her Lucrece" Maria had sealed the letter to make it look even more authentic, addressing it to "the unknown beloved". It contains what seems to be a riddle in which Maria has played with the letters of Malvolio's name and is meant to be both obvious and ambiguous. It suggests that the writer is in love with somebody but must keep it a secret from the world, although she wants her beloved to know. The first part of letter concludes by saying that the beloved's identity is represented by the letters "M.O.A.I." ...read more.

Conclusion

Maria then rejoins the men, and she, Sir Toby, and Fabian have a good laugh, anticipating what Malvolio is likely to do next. It turns out that Olivia actually hates the colour yellow, can't stand to see crossed garters, and certainly doesn't want anybody smiling around her right now, since she is still mourning after her brother's death. in other words, Malvolio is destined to make a very great fool of himself and the conspirators all head off together to watch the fun. Our pity for Mavolio only increases when the triumphant vindictive Maria and Toby confine him to a dark room in Act IV as he desperately protests that he is not mad. Malvolio's sad delusion; "every reason excites to this, that my lady loves me", his pontificating and pompous manner as well as the fact that he is totally unaware that he has been set up and is being watched, adds much to the humour of the scene. The hidden watchers explosions of rage and later, glee and the fact that there is a chance that they might give up the game away keeps the audience not only laughing but also on the edge of their seats. ...read more.

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