How is Malvolio presented and, in your opinion, how is the audience supposed to respond to his persona focusing on Act 2 Scene 3?
Shakespeare wrote the part of malvolio in a very puritan dynamic time period around the turn of the 17th century just preceding the ascension of James I, the king known most for his puritanism view. This makes me assume that Shakespeare’s thought behind the writing of malvolio must have been both political and religious which will appeal towards the audience and would make them react differently due to them understanding things because they were actually living around other puritans. It gives a link through the sense of familiarity between the audience and malvolio.
Specifically malvolio is presented as the ‘priggish’ and selfish butler to the lady Olivia. He is written in my opinion specifically for the audience to dislike giving the play a range and depth in the character selection. He isn’t a delicate or sensitive person, for instance he is sent by Olivia to quieten her cousin sir toby and says “My masters are you mad or what are you? Have you no wit, manners nor honesty but to gabble like tinkers at this time of night?” which shows him as someone who, although he takes propriety seriously, thinks of others unlike him with distaste. This shows his typically puritan views. The audience at such moments like this should respond by laughing at malvolio, he’s the type of character who will say something funny but considering he has no sense of humour won’t realise what he has said that is funny which in turn makes it funnier. You could say the character of malvolio is used by Shakespeare as one of his main comedic features via his use of comedic irony. Many things can happen behind Malvolio’s back but he would be too self-centred to see it as proved later by Maria and Sir Toby’s letter of love from him to Olivia....
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