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How is Malvolio presented in "Twelfth Night"?

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Introduction

?Explore the ways in which Malvolio is presented in ?Twelfth Night?.? The character Malvolio (meaning literally ?I mean ill will?) is immediately affected by the implications of his name. His personage is implied directly to be one of negative and somewhat disagreeable nature, which is continued and supported throughout the play, leading to his downfall and mockery which both seem to be thoroughly deserved, due to his many flaws of personality. Malvolio functions as a contrast to the merrymakers, Sir Toby and Sir Andrew; he is a sombre shadow of the aristocratic world and a sober reminder to Feste that the world is a serious place. While the other characters are almost always happy, Malvolio is grave. He emphasizes the importance of dignity, decency, decorum and "good order"; yet when he thinks he sees a chance with Olivia, he abandons all such proper conduct and behaves like an utter fool. Malvolio is the steward of Olivia?s house and is in control of everything that goes on with the servants. He is always looking to make things perfect and things that are unorthodox, like Sir Toby and Sir Andrew, have to be rid of. ...read more.

Middle

This longing for new superiority and strong belief that he will gain it, causes him to be open for trickery and therefore provides the starting point of the punishment and humiliation through which he later suffers. This leads to Malvolio?s extreme vanity. He places himself above all but Olivia, through purposely using language above his station, seemingly memorised from books ?an affectioned ass, that cons state without book and utters it in great swathes?. He also makes an effort to pride himself on his physical appearance ?should she fancy, it should be one of my complexion? which he seems to assume is one to be admired. Overall, with taking into consideration the negative and truly objectionable aspects of Malvolio, it can be seen that he does in fact need to be taught a lesson about the downfalls of his disdainful ways. The fact that he is so totally self satisfied, means that convincing him of another?s love (i.e. Olivia?s) is easy to achieve ?it is his grounds of faith that all that look on him love him. And on that vice in him will my revenge find notable cause to work?. ...read more.

Conclusion

Malvolio was locked away in the dark, made to think that he was crazy. He begged to see the priest, Sir Topaz. However, in order to keep the joke running longer Sir Toby makes Feste dress up as Sir Topaz, and nearly drives Malvolio to insanity. At this point Malvolio has completely forgotten about his pride and dignity, while it seems to become more obvious that this joke has turned into torture. Even Sir Toby finally realizes that such bad treatment of a person is much more than a mere joke. ?I cannot pursue with any safety this sport to the upshot?. 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 this final treatment, as his only crime is his adverse character and the fact that he wronged his peers with words alone. Ironically, after having been released from his cell it becomes clear that his ways have not improved in the slightest and that he is now filled with resentment for his abusers, as well as for Olivia. He departs at the end, promising to be ?revenged on the whole pack of you (them)?. No rewards are gained and no lessons learnt from his great, unnecessary suffering. ...read more.

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