Brilliant Folly: the Role of Feste

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In William Shakespeare 's comedy Twelfth Night, it is ironic how many times the fool is said to be dishonest, when, in fact, his role proves entirely opposite. Though sometimes the characters do not realize his hidden messages, the reader can instantly comprehend Feste 's figurative language, which is evident in every scene in which the fool appears. Whether he is singing to Orsino, arguing with Malvolio, or playing around with Viola, Feste always manages to sneak in a few symbolic foretokens before his exit. His keen eye and fast wit help him to actively partake in the portrayal of the story, however, the fool is merely present to express that which cannot be fully expressed through the lines of other characters. Through his songs,…show more content…
Feste 's common, witty remarks show the reader many significant truths about life in Illyria, and she can also apply them to her own experiences.

Feste 's quick ability to play on the words of others also helps him illustrate his views on many subjects. After Olivia commands the fool be taken away because he is dry, meaning not amusing, Feste slyly twists her words with a good pun. "For give the dry fool drink, then is / the Fool not dry" (1.5.41-42). His artfulness amuses Olivia, and the fool is allowed to stay. Also, while they are speaking to each other, Feste and Viola hold a conversation consisting entirely of wordplay.

"Viola: Save the, friend, and thy music. Dost thou live by the tabor?

Fool: No, sir, I live by the church.

Viola: Art thou a churchman?

Fool: No such matter, sir. I do live by the church, for I do live at my house, and my house doth stand by the church" (3.1.1-7).

Here, the fool 's words help Viola realize how important diction is, and also how deceiving it can be. This awareness helps her to choose her words more carefully from that point on. Though his reasons for using puns vary each time, their collective message is best summed up by Feste himself when he states, "A sentence is/ but a chevril glove to a good wit. How quickly the/ wrong side may be turned outward" (3.1.11-13).

Through Feste 's clever use of language, he takes on a role separate from his character. Although he partakes in

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