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What Is Malvolio’s Role in ‘twelfth Night’? How Does Shakespeare Present Him?

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What is Malvolio’s role in ‘Twelfth Night’? How does Shakespeare present him?

Malvolio is the antagonist to many of the characters in the play, he is openly critical of Maria, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Feste. This creates conflict in the subplot as the characters turn against him and he becomes a victim of sorts which serves to amplify the humour in the play. This becomes particularly apparent when he is tormented in a dark cell by ‘Sir Topas’. Sir Toby Belch feels particularly antagonistic towards Malvolio because he condemns Toby's drunkenness, sabotages fun, and acts above his social status.

Malvolio's name is Latin for "ill will." He wears dark clothing and has no sense of humor, both of which are appropriate to Olivia's choice of mourning. The countess values Malvolio as a servant because he "is sad [serious] and civil" (III.iv.5). Feste and Malvolio are complete opposites, in names and professions as well as their personalities. His stern, puritan ways are clearly paradoxical to the jovial mood of both Andrew and Toby. Malvolio is essentially a blocking figure who stands in the way of passion and is, in his own mind, an obstacle to the union of Olivia with any other man. Malvolio does not take part in the wedding festivities that concludes Twelfth Night, and his final words of revenge are discordant with the play's ending.

Malvolio’s entrance into the play leaves

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