Comparison Of Malvolio In Twelfth Night By William Shakespeare

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Shakespeare’s writings often draw comparisons between people of nobility and mechanicals. For example, in Richard II, an entire scene is dedicated to the interaction between the Queen of England and a gardener who is overheard discussing Richard. In Hamlet, one of the few people who can keep up with Hamlet’s verbal sparring is a gravedigger who unearths the skull of Hamlet’s childhood jester. Less obviously, in Twelfth Night, there is a much longer-form contrast between two social classes employed to tell a story of the love men have for women. Specifically, Shakespeare makes a comparison between the Duke Orsino and the lowly Malvolio. He writes of their common desire for Olivia, their futile attempts to court her, and their combined failure …show more content…
In Act 2, Scene 5, Malvolio wanders onto the stage just after Anthony, Fabia, Maria, and Toby have planted their spitefully forged love letter along his path. Before even noticing the letter, Malvolio fantasizes about Olivia, in the same enchanted manner as Orsino. He wonders if Olivia might love him, as, “Maria once told me she did affect me, and I have heard herself come thus near, that should she fancy, it should be one of my complexion … What should I think on it?” (2.5.22-26). As with Orsino, Malvolio is thinking not of Olivia, or who she is as a person. The low Malvolio is thinking about how the duchess could potentially love him because of his own attributes. He thinks more of himself than of Olivia. Malvolio then fantasizes more, not about how to forge his and Olivia’s love-relationship (or even friendship), but rather what it would be like, “To be Count Malvolio” (2.5.34). He then proceeds to imagine all the benefits that —relations with Olivia could earn—status above Toby, numerous attendants, comfort, and of course sexual relations with Olivia, as during his fantasy, he has just, “come from a daybed, where I have left Olivia sleeping” (2.5.47-48). Thus, Malvolio’s passion for Olivia is not spurred by genuine love or interest in Olivia. His passion is generated by his desires of wealth, status, and power. Shakespeare once again portrays his distaste …show more content…
Orsino is a character introduced through his hounding passion, and one who often appears only to vent his desires. Malvolio, dissimilarly, is a more comical character, and thus has more common appearances… however, he too has his own wants and goals; the two are very similar. Though stringing the pair’s similarities through Twelfth Night, Shakespeare still split the pair in twain quite abruptly in the end, having Orsino marry and Malvolio march off the stage in an angry pout. Perhaps this was to remind the audience subconsciously that there certainly is a divide between the wealthy and the poor, or maybe he wanted to show how, for most people, love simply leads to unhappiness. It would be nice to think that whatever the case, people have developed different concepts of how love “should” look, or operate—that rather than love simply being a woman fulfilling the desires of a man, it is a mutual bond founded on trust and friendship. It would be nice to think that, and it appears much more true than several hundred years ago. It would be nice to think that, yet society is still dominated by white men and what they want. It would be nice to think that, but it would be nicer to just

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