Madness In Shakespeare's Malvolio, Sebastian Or You Will

858 Words 4 Pages
What does it mean to be truly mad? Not mad in the sense of anger but in the sense of insanity. Throughout Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night; Or, Whatever You Will the theme of madness rings throughout. I am going to be examining the theme of madness in this play by looking at Shakespeare’s Malvolio, Sebastian, and Antonio. First let 's have a look at the character Malvolio, servant to the fair maiden Olivia. Malvolio is made out to be a Puritan. Puritans “strove to make it impossible for others to enjoy what he thought sin,” (Tilley 552). And in Shakespeare 's time that meant theatre, so many playwrights included Puritans in their plays and as Tilley put it “Savagely attacked [them],” and Shakespeare was no exception (552). In Twelfth …show more content…
Even though Antonio only appears in four brief scenes, his role in the mass spread of madness is key. From the very beginning he throws caution to the wind to help Sebastian when he says, “I have many enemies in Orsino’s court … But come what may, I do adore thee so … and I will go [with you],” (104). In the next scene that Antonio is in he entrusts all of his money to Sebastian, a complete stranger. The real confusion begins to spread when the two of them separate. Antonio mistakes Cesario for Sebastian and claims to have been betrayed by a man who doesn’t recognize him. Orsino declares, “[Antonio’s] words are madness,” and then has him dismissed (155). Antonio’s simple mix up has helped portray him as mad in the eyes of everyone else towards the end of the play, but if you look at his earlier scenes you will find that he wasn’t thinking very sanely to begin with. He very well could have been truly …show more content…
All of the confusion became clear and everyone realized there was no true madness, but instead it was all a big misunderstanding. So if this so called madness throughout the whole play was really just confusion and miscommunication between everyone, then do we really know if madness was truly there? The answer is yes, everyone in that play was at least a little mad. Orsino was madly in love with someone who did not love him back; Malvolio’s ambitions drove him mad; Olivia fell in love with the servant of her caller; Antonio blindly followed a stranger; Viola pretended to be a man for the months; and Sebastian married a woman who believed he was someone else. Just about everyone in Twelfth Night was at least a little mad. In fact the sanest person in the whole play is probably the fool Feste, who stated to Malvolio, “you are mad indeed, if you be no better in your wits than a fool,” (149). Unlike the others Feste showed great wit throughout the entirety of the play, after all one must be “wise enough to play the fool,”

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