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What is your personal opinion of Malvolio and the way he is treated?

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Introduction

What is your personal opinion of Malvolio and the way he is treated? Malvolio is an extremely complicated and difficult character to study because of his mixed, complex personality. At times in the play he seems very reliable and loyal but sometimes he seems foolish and weak, and in many scenes in the play the audience are encouraged to laugh at him, his actions or his words. He is not portrayed as a lovable character, which makes the play funnier. Also, the way that Malvolio seems humourless actually makes him humorous. Just Malvolio's name can give you some idea of his personality, it means in Latin "evil-wishing!" Malvolio's first appearance is in Act I Scene 5. His humourless character can be seen straight away in this scene because he is not amused by Feste's attempts to cheer up a saddened Olivia. He talks about Feste in a rude way, as if he is higher than the fool: "I marvel your lady takes delight in such a barren rascal. I saw him put down the other day with an ordinary fool, that has no more brain than a stone. ...read more.

Middle

Maria has forged a letter from Olivia to Malvolio and the effects on Malvolio are hilarious! Even before Malvolio finds the forged letter the audience see him daydreaming about Olivia. He thinks that she loves him and he is trying to prove to himself that this is right: "Tis but fortune, all is fortune. Maria once told me she did affect me, and I have heard herself come thus near, that she should fancy, it should be one of my complexion. Besides, she uses me with a more exalted respect than any one else that follows her. What should I think on't?" (Lines 21-26) He says that Maria told him that Olivia liked him and that he was Olivia's type! He also seems to think that Olivia treats him differently to any of the other people that serve her. When he finds the letter he admires "Olivia's" writing and then opens the letter and reads it. His thoughts about Olivia loving him are now justified and he suddenly feels confident, which makes him very amusing to watch. "Olivia" instructs him wear his cross-gartered yellow stockings which are funny, but then the fact that he really believes it makes the scene even more comical! ...read more.

Conclusion

(Line 325) Olivia replies to him: "Alas, Malvolio, this is not my writing..." (Line 339) He then realises that he has been tricked and is vengeful. He says that he will make plans to get his revenge: "I'll be reveng'd on the whole pack of you!" The trick was played on him for revenge and also to teach him a lesson, but instead of learning from the experience Malvolio is vengeful and says that he will make plans to get his revenge. The audience would now see that he had not changed and was his usual angry, pompous and self-righteous self! Malvolio's character adds to the story of Twelfth Night. If he was kind, caring and not at all gullible the story of Twelfth Night would not have the same interesting and comical theme to it. I think that although Malvolio was mistreated at the end of the play it is only what he deserved. He was just as horrible and vengeful as Sir Toby and his friends and probably would have done the same thing in that situation. Even though he is not one of the main parts he is still very prominent in the play's storyline and adds to the overall picture that Shakespeare paints. ...read more.

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