The Role of Malvolio in Twelfth Night Essay

1543 Words7 Pages
The Role of Malvolio in Twelfth Night

The main storyline in Twelfth Night is love between Cesario, Orsino, Olivia and later on in the play Sebastian. Malvolio’s part in the play is a backdrop situation separate from the main story. He brings a level of both humour and sympathy to the play. Malvolio is one of the main sources of humour in Twelfth Night. In the later part of the play a different side of him is exposed.

Malvolio is Olivia’s steward and his job is to manage Olivia’s house; he is her chief servant. It’s a very responsible job that he takes very seriously. He enjoys telling people what to do.

During the course of the play Malvolio can be seen in many different lights. At the
…show more content…
‘Twelfth Night’ is referring to the twelfth night after Christmas, Epiphany. Today, the Twelfth Night after Christmas means the day we take down the decorations, but back in 1600 when the play was written it had a different meaning. Epiphany was a time for celebrating and partying. People used to have parties on Twelfth Night and it was traditional to play practical jokes at this time. These included tricks such as hiding live birds in an empty pie case, so that they flew away when the startled guests cut open the crusts. It was a mad time full of pranks and confusion, just as in the play. This name, ‘Twelfth Night’, therefore seems appropriate for this play due to all the confusion and the banter that goes on in the confusing storyline.

In Twelfth Night we see different types of humour. There is the word play, the vulgar humour of Sir Toby, stupidity of Sir Andrew, Malvolio‘s foolishness , and the general confusion caused by Viola's disguise.

Shakespeare used dirty and witty humour in most of his plays but it is perhaps most obvious in Twelfth Night. He used different types of humour to please all of the people who flocked to see his plays. There was always an array of people, and they all needed to be kept interested. There were the peasants that he could entertain with the dirty jokes and humour. An example of this is ‘this is my lady's hand these be her very C's,
Get Access