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How is Malvolio a comic character? Act 3 Scene 4

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Introduction

How is Malvolio a comic character? Act 3 Scene 4 Malvolio is a comic character throughout Twelfth Night, especially in Act 3 Scene 4. The scene revolves around him acting on the love letter he finds, which he believes to be from Olivia. Malvolio secretly wishes to be more than just a steward to his mistress. When he finds the letter Maria leaves behind to trick him, he falls into the trap and makes a fool of himself. In this scene, his comic character comes through in the forms of slapstick humour, puns, dramatic irony, comedy of manners and ridicule. Malvolio does what the love letter tells him that he must do in order to prove his love to Olivia, and this includes wearing yellow-stockings in cross-gartered fashion. "Not black in my mind, though yellow in my legs." In reality Olivia actually hates the colour yellow and cross-garters. Yet he shows off his stockings to Olivia thinking the opposite. According to the letter, he also has to smile a lot. ...read more.

Middle

Olivia thinks he said 'mad': "Am I mad?" In theatre, this pun is probably not as effective as the others because if Malvolio pronounces 'made' so that Olivia thinks he said 'mad', then the chances are that the audience think he said 'mad' as well. Therefore the audience may not realize that this is actually a pun. The main humour in this scene is dramatic irony. Malvolio, having found the love letter, thinks that Olivia in is love with him. The audience know the truth because previously in the play, we have seen Maria, Sir Toby and Sir Andrew plotting against Malvolio and Malvolio falling into the trap. "Sweet lady, ho, ho!" Malvolio enters the scene with a laugh. We know that he has gained this extra confidence because of the misunderstanding he has with the love letter. When Malvolio is quoting from the letter, Olivia doesn't have any idea what he is talking about. Malvolio: "'Be not afraid of greatness': 'twas well writ." Olivia: "What mean'st thou by that, Malvolio?" ...read more.

Conclusion

because it is obvious to everyone else that he interprets things wrongly. Malvolio is the character that has been the most ridiculed in the play. He is made fun of all the time behind his back, especially by the other servants. Maria: "...your ladyship were best to have some guard about you if he come, for sure the man is tainted in's wits." Maria, Sir Toby and Sir Andrew plot against him to ridicule him in front of everyone, mainly Olivia. They are the ones who purposely leave behind the love letter for Malvolio to find. They tell him to wear yellow stockings when they know Olivia hates the colour yellow. They ask him to wear cross-garters when they know this is a fashion Olivia hates. This ridicule is effective because the audience will laugh at a fool, the exact thing that Malvolio is being made into in the play. Shakespeare uses all these different types of humour to make Malvolio appear foolish. Malvolio is exposed as being pretentious and snobbish. Shakespeare tries to encourage the audience to laugh at Malvolio's ignorance as well as his wish to be more than he is - and he has succeeded brilliantly. Jessica Law 9Z ...read more.

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