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16 April, 12:24

How is malvolio portrayed

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  1. 16 April, 12:50
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    Twelfth Night. To what extent is Malvolio portrayed as the anti-comedic figure in Twelfth Night? Throughout history standards of traditional comedic plots and characters have rarely been subverted or questioned. However, Shakespeare can be seen to present a character that to an extent subverts the conventional behaviour of a comedic 'villain' through the character of Malvolio. This construct contributes to the comedic value of the play in compliance to genre, yet can also be found to entice great tragedy through a darker, more villainous character. Therefore by exploring the ways in which Shakespeare has presented this character in relation to the demands of the genre and relation to modern and contextual audiences, Malvolio may be perceived in different lights.

    The primary link to a villainous character is through Shakespeare's use of name, Malvolio is a direct translation from Italian meaning "ill will", immediately alluding to his "distempered appetite" and cold, austere character. To reinforce the negativity surrounding Malvolio, he is often juxtaposed with more light-hearted characters such as Sir Toby or Sir Andrew to create contrasts between values, attitudes and language used by the contradicting characters. Through this visible theatrical device, Shakespeare is extending this contrast on to his juxtaposition of conventional, almost farcical comedic characters with the unconventional puritanical behaviour of Malvolio. "Is there no respect of place, persons nor time in you?" Malvolio asks. "We did keep time, sir, in our catches. Sneck up!" remarks Toby. In Act 2 Scene 3 the juxtaposition of opposing characters is clearly seen through Malvolio's derogatory tone, and Sir Toby's childish remarks.
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