Malvolio and the Way he is Treated in William Shakespeare's The Twelfth Night

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Malvolio and the Way he is Treated in William Shakespeare's The Twelfth Night

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
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So, from being rude and offensive earlier on in the scene to Feste, he is now obedient and loyal. Malvolio could, at this point, be called two-faced. His personality changes depending on whom he is interacting with.

Act II Scene 2 consists of a conversation between Malvolio and Viola/Cesario. Malvolio seems very proud and pleased to be telling Viola/Cesario that Olivia does not want him to bring messages from Orsino any more. Of course he does not realise that the implications of this message are actually the complete opposite! He says:

"And one thing more, that you never be so hardy to

come again in his affairs, unless it be to report your

lord's taking of this." (Lines 8-10)

Malvolio is then rude and selfish to Viola/Cesario because he obviously feels that he is more important than him. Instead of handing Viola/Cesario the ring, he throws it onto the floor.

In the next scene, Act II Scene 3 Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are drinking, they persuade Feste to sing for them but Maria is wary and warns them of the trouble they could be in. Malvolio is sent down by Olivia to stop their unruly behaviour. Of course, Malvolio takes this opportunity to scold all of them and be generally impolite to them:

"Have you no wit, manners, nor honesty, but to gabble

like tinkers at this time of night?" (Lines 83-84)

When he realises that this does not seem to have the effect he
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