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

"He hath been most notoriously abused" How far do you agree with Olivia that Malvolio has been unjustly treated in the play?

Extracts from this document...


"He hath been most notoriously abused" How far do you agree with Olivia that Malvolio has been unjustly treated in the play? Twelfth night is a comedy which means that the audience's expectations are for a light hearted, humorous funny play. Usually in a comedy there is bawdy, lewd language and romantic liaisons. In the play there are also a lot of ridiculous and improbable coincidences which the audience only believe because of willing suspension of disbelief. The title Twelfth Night refers to the Christian feast of epiphany which occurs twelve nights after Christmas. This is always a very festive time; in many ways the play Twelfth Night resembles the comedies often shown on television around Christmas in the modern era. Traditionally on the twelfth night shops are closed, schools are on holiday and people don't go into work it is a time for feasting, dancing and being merry. There is also and idea that there is a suspension of rules everyone can have some fun and "let their hair down". The alternative title What You Will refers to the idea that during this time you can do what you want and all rules are suspended amongst the festive atmosphere. ...read more.


We first meet Malvolio in Act one scene 5,he immediately attracts our attention because of how out of place he seems. In a comic play filled with ridiculous characters, Malvolio is serious and sour, with distaste for amusement and laughter of any kind, as we see in his reaction to Feste. As the play goes on, the conflict between his temperament and that of the other characters-especially Sir Toby and Sir Andrew-comes out into the open, with extreme consequences. It is this sour, fun-despising side that earns him the enmity of the zany, drunken Sir Toby and the clever Maria, who together engineer his downfall. It begins to infuriate them to the extent they show "schadenfreude" towards Malvolio, they use sadistic and violent images describing what they would like to do to him. Sir Andrew says he would like to "pistol him" while Sir Toby expresses how he would enjoy "a stone bow to him in the eye!". For them Malvolio is the embodiment of order and sobriety. However as they are so drunk and disorderly we do not really take what they say seriously, we also perhaps sympathise with Malvolio as he is head servant and it is therefore his duty to keep everyone at bay. ...read more.


It is as if the unfortunate servant must be sacrificed so that the rest of the characters can indulge in the hearty spirit that classifies Twelfth Night. As he is sacrificed, Malvolio begins to earn our respect. He has a second change of character here he seems sorry and even praises Feste now that he needs his help! He says to Feste "I will live to be thankful to thee for't". However the minute he is out he goes back to his old ways. Malvolio must be content with this self-knowledge, because the play allows Malvolio no real compensation for his sufferings. At the close of the play, he is brought out of the darkness into a celebration in which he has no part, and where no one seems willing to offer him a real apology. "I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you," he snarls, stalking out of the festivities .His exit strikes a jarring note in an otherwise joyful comedy. Malvolio has no real place in the anarchic world of Twelfth Night, except to suggest that, even in the best of worlds, someone must suffer while everyone else is happy. I agree with Olivia that Malvolio has been "most notoriously abused". He was locked up like a criminal and worse still made to think he was going crazy. He was simply doing his job, although he may have needed to 'loosen up a little'. ...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. The most perceptive characters in Twelfth Night are the best at fooling others. How ...

    his role as the stiff, uptight butler, by forcing him to deny his personality - 'he does smile his face into more lines than is in the new map with the augmentation of the Indies' and 'will be strange, stout, in yellow stockings, and cross-gartered'.

  2. How far do you agree with the view that Twelfth Night is a comedy ...

    Another characteristic that defines this play as a comedy is the fact that it's a happy ending with no deaths. This is the main factor that differentiates from the genre tragedy and the genre comedy. If there is a death then the play qualifies as being a tragedy, if there

  1. How does Shakespeare manipulate the audience to dislike Malvolio towards the beginning of the ...

    On the other hand, it could be argued that Malvolio might have a point. Olivia is in bereavement and her house is a house of mourning for a death. Sir Toby's role was to protect Olivia, as he is the only male left in the family.

  2. Twelfth Night is one of Shakespeare's best-loved and most performed comedies because it is ...

    marry Olivia, he would reach a higher level of social status, and therefore be able to boss around Sir Toby. This is an example of how love is portrayed as a way of taking advantage of people, as Malvolio is thinking more of his social class than of Olivia's love


    "What think you of this fool, Malvolio? Doth he not mend?" - Olivia has already forgiven Feste, & now just laughs at him. Malvolio however, instead of agreeing with Olivia as you might expect, replies "Yes, & shall do until the pangs of death shake him."

  2. I agree to a certain extent that twelfth night is a feminist play. What ...

    The women in this play are also sacrificial. A tremendously good example to proof this is the character Viola. Viola's love for Orsino is silent and concealed. She is the long-suffering woman and her sincerity is shown in her actions, sacrificing her happiness for Orsino's happiness. Her love for Orsino is also shown in her silence.

  1. Do you agree with Olivia when she says that Malvolio

    In my opinion the joke that was played upon Malvolio to humiliate him was taken too far and in the end he was "notoriously abused" unjustifiably. Feste, as usual, realises before the other characters that the joke has gone too far and loses interest in it, "I would we were

  2. Twelfth Night is one of Shakespeare's best-loved and most performed comedies because it is ...

    However, is he in love with Olivia or in love with the idea of being in love? "If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die..."

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