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What exactly is the purpose of Feste in 'Twelfth Night'?

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Introduction

English Shakespeare Essay What exactly is the purpose of Feste in 'Twelfth Night'? Although the role of Feste 'the clown' originally seems to be quite inconsequential in the play, he actually becomes vital to the play to hold and link it together. I am going to look at all his roles and purposes in the play, using evidence to support my opinions. Feste's original comedy role, although not being his main purpose, is still important in the play. He is the comic truth of the comedy. The irony of the play is, although he is portrayed as a fool, he often seems to be the wisest person in the play as he exposes the true fools. He sees the comedy behind many situations, proving other people to be the true fools, rather than him. Voila even comments on this behaviour: 'This fellow's wise enough to play the fool' (3:1:50) However, not every character in the play sees this. Feste's wisdom is also seen many times around Olivia. At one point Feste asks her what she is mourning about. 'The more fool, Madonna, to mourn for your brother's soul being in heaven' (1:5:58) Therefore, proving Olivia to be a true fool, to mourn a person whose soul is in heaven. This is also the first point we see Feste for more than just a fool, but as a wise man playing a fool and the comic truth. ...read more.

Middle

Nothing that is so is so.' (4:1:4-7) In this line Feste confirms that he is indeed, not speaking to Cesario, or Viola, but more significantly he sums up the entire play for the audience: 'Nothing that is so is so' (4:1:6) This quote is significant because it describes the scenario of the play. He can not only use it to describe the current situation that he is in with Sebastian, but also every other situation in the story. It covers how Cesario is actually a woman dressed as a man, how Malvolio believes that Olivia loves him when she doesn't and, ironically enough, that Feste is not a fool as he has been branded, but a wise man. Shakespeare used Feste for this phrase for the same reasons he used him to foretell the end of the play, plus, by using Feste for this line there is the added irony that the line can also be used to describe Feste; the clown that was anything but a fool, as proven by this wise comment. This also makes the audience wonder if Feste can indeed see through Viola's disguise as Cesario, and knows her true identity as it is once hinted he does: 'Now Jove, in his next commodity of hair, send thee a beard!' ...read more.

Conclusion

But When I came, alas, to wive, With hey, ho, the wind and the rain, By swaggering could I never thrive, For the rain it raineth every day. But when I came unto my beds, With hey, ho, the wind and the rain, With tosspots still 'had drunken heads, For the rain it raineth every day. A great while ago the world begun, With hey, ho, the wind and the rain, But that's all one, our play is done, And we'll strive to please you every day.' This song seems to imply that although people are happy today, the happiness could at any time be swept away, as shown with the reference to rain. Feste seems to be suggesting that people should live life to the fullest every day as you never know what could be waiting around the corner. In conclusion, Feste may originally seem to be a simple fool or a clown, with little significance to the play. However, as the play continues, he seems to grow as a character. He becomes a much more important part of the story and without him, the story would not function. Therefore, while Feste's recognized role as a fool should imply a lack of intelligence and wit, it is the exact opposite. Once again reversing the roles and proving that, as Feste says: 'Nothing that is so is so. ...read more.

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