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

Explore how Shakespeare shapes the audience's perceptions of Malvolio in Twelfth Night

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

GCSE English/English Literature Coursework: Twelfth Night Throughout Twelfth Night, there are many instances in which the audience feels it is licensed to laugh at certain characters because of their mishaps and embarrassing situations. One of these characters is the Lady Olivia's steward, Malvolio, a pompous and puritanical figure who is the most unlucky of all the characters, as nobody seems to like him. His character reveals lots of human weaknesses when exposed to humiliating situations, and so the audience cannot help but find his misfortune humourous. In this essay I am going to look in depth at the key scenes that shape the audience's perceptions of Malvolio. The three main aspects of Malvolio that provide talking points are: his religious beliefs (he is a Puritan), his social status (he looks down on others whom he thinks lower than him) and his personality (he is vain and egoistic). Each of these characteristics mean that Malvolio an obvious target for humour, as many of the characters take advantage of him throughout the play. Our initial impressions are supported by Malvolio's general character. He shows himself to be a strict puritan and this is also suggested by the opinion of Maria "Sometimes he is a kind of puritan". ...read more.

Middle

He then continues, "Do ye make an alehouse of my lady's house, that ye squeak out your coziers' catches without any mitigation or remorse of voice? Is there no respect of place, persons, nor time in you?". He is continuing his rhetorical questions, yet now he is also addressing them as his inferiors by calling them 'ye' ('socially inferior'), 'coziers' and 'tinkers' ('working class' men) when in fact Sir Toby is his superior. Malvolio is speaking to Sir Toby as if Malvolio is the master of the house, which in Act 2 Scene 5, we learn, is Malvolio's secret ambition. This is Malvolio's first big mistake in the play. Even though it seemed like the right thing to do, it starts off a poor relationship with Sir Toby and the others and later on in the play, Malvolio would pay for his actions. In fact, Maria begins to unveil a plan for revenge almost as soon as Malvolio leaves the room. The plan entails a forged letter, supposedly from Olivia to Malvolio, telling of her love for him. The letter 'refers subliminally to Malvolio's character weaknesses and hence ensures that he will be fooled by its meanings.' (Google) Maria actually writes the letter, but Malvolio will surely be too gullible to realise that, or that's what Maria is hoping for. ...read more.

Conclusion

swearing revenge. We have to make up our minds whether we, as the audience, are licensed to laugh at Malvolio in his various mishaps throughout the play because even despite it seeming funny to us we wouldn't like it if we were in his shoes and so, it may be considered quite cruel to find his embarrassment hilarious. 'Through succumbing to the trick and carrying out the orders of the letter, Malvolio is receiving adequate punishment. By believing and acting on the letter's commands, he shows himself to be gullible and ironically, lacking in the superiority of mind that he is convinced he possesses.' (Google) Thus, he allows Sir Toby and the servants to achieve their aim. I feel that Malvolio suffers a great injustice at the hands of his tormentors and is "notoriously abused" beyond the brink of mere teasing. He does not deserve his latter treatment, as his only real crime is his undesirable character. Ironically, after having been released from his prison, it becomes clear that he has not amended his ways in the slightest and that he is now filled with resentment for his abusers, as well as for Olivia. In all, no rewards are gained and no lessons learnt from Malvolio's unnecessary suffering. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE 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 GCSE Twelfth Night essays

  1. What Types of love does Shakespeare explore in Twelfth Night?

    Malvolio is certainly the most severe case of self-love in Twelfth Night, but there are other milder cases of it in both Orsino and Olivia. Orsino's self-love is seen at the very start of the play. He is listening to music, ordering his servants to play on, then to stop, then to start again.

  2. Malvolio did he deserve the punishment he received in the play Twelfth Night?

    are cross garterd Now if we look at the play we see why this was a very clever trick, Countess Olivia had just lost her brother and is in mourning and it wrong to smile, at the same time Maria who writes the letter knew that Olivia dislike the colour yellow and detests cross gartering.

  1. Examine the ways in which Shakespeare creates comedy for the audience in Act 3 ...

    would have been seen as ridiculous and unconventional- this links into the humour behind high and low characters. The fact that at the end of the play, everything comes together and the main, central cast of the play all become happily married to each other also creates humour.

  2. A close, critical analysis of Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' with regard to relating a particular ...

    Members of the audience at that time, particularly those directly associated with Her Majesty's Court, may well have picked up on this. In fact, most of the passage could be looked at as excellent general advice for doing well in court intrigues - this may also have been of note to courtiers attending Queen Elizabeth when she viewed the play.

  1. To what extent can you feel sympathy for Malvolio

    The fact he even had the idea of bounding someone up and keeping them in a dark room, how ever much you hate them, is wrong. If they did this, they were going too far. In 4.2 Feste dresses up as a curator pretending to look at Malvolio to see if he is mad.

  2. Was Malvolio mistreated in Twelfth Night?

    Also in other Shakespearean plays, like 'The Merchant Of Venice' shylock is also stereo typed to be full of greed just for the fact that he was a Jew, Also in Nazi Germany times. German writers who wrote books at the time also stereotyped Jews to be evil and 'inferior race' just for the fact that they were Jews.

  1. What are the contrasted attitudes to love in Twelfth Night and how are they ...

    he uses dark words like 'death', 'sad cyprus', 'fly away breath', 'slain', 'black coffin', and 'poor corpse' (2:4 lines 51-76). We are also completely sure this song links with Orsino's love to Olivia, because Feste names a 'fair cruel maid' who is certainly Olivia.

  2. DID MALVOLIO DESERVE TO BE TREATED SO HARSHLY?

    - This might be Malvolio's own opinion, but he is merely a steward, & Sir Toby & Sir Andrew are far above him. He makes his disgust know the second he walks in through the door. "...but to gabble like tinkers?....squeak out your coziers' catches without any mitigation...?"

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