Twelfth Night Analysis Of Fools

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A fool can be defined in many meanings according to the Oxford English Dictionary On Historical Principles. The word could mean "a silly person", or "one who professionally counterfeits folly for the entertainment of others, a jester, clown" or "one who has little or no reason or intellect" or "one who is made to appear to be a fool" (word originated from North Frisian). In english literature, the two main ways which the fool could enter imaginative literature is that "He could provide a topic, a theme for mediation, or he could turn into a stock character on the stage, a stylized comic figure". In William Shakespeare's comedy, Twelfth Night, Feste the clown is not the only fool who is subject to foolery. He and many other characters... View More »

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We also learn in a statement by Curio to the Duke that Feste is employed by Olivia's father. "Feste the jester... a fool that the Lady Olivia's father took much pleasure in"(II.iv.11).

Feste is more of the comic truth of the comedy. Although he does not make any profound remarks, he seems to be the wisest person within all the characters in the comedy. Viola remarks this by saying "This fellow's wise enough to play the fool"(III.i.61). Since Feste is a licensed fool, his main role in Twelfth Night is to speak the truth. This is where the humor lies, his truthfulness. In one example he proves Olivia to be a true fool by asking her what she was mourning about. The point Feste tried to make was why was Olivia mourning for a person who's soul is in heaven?

"CLOWN Good madonna, why mourn'st thou?
OLIVIA Good Fool, for my brother's death.
CLOWN I think his soul is in hell, madonna.
OLIVIA I know his soul is in heaven, fool.
CLOWN The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your
brother's soul, being in heaven. Take away the fool,
gentlemen.
Adding to the humor of the comedy, Feste, dresses up as Sir Topaz, the curate and visits the imprisoned Malvolio with Maria and Sir Toby. There he uses his humor to abuse Malvolio who is still unaware that he is actually talking to the clown than to the real Sir Topas. Feste (disguised as Sir Topaz) calls Malvolio a "lunatic" (IV.ii.23), "satan"(IV.ii.32) and confuses him by wittingly making him a fool. Throughout the play, Malvolio has always been the person who intentionally spoils the pleasure of other ...

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