Many definitions of comedy claim that the ending of the play offers a happy resolution for all. Explore the ending of Twelfth Night in light of this statement.
Even though Twelfth Night is catagorized as a comedy, there are a few characters who experience hurt and cruelty throughout the play. These characters don’t get a happy ending, or a real resolution to their problems. Malvolio, Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Feste don’t end up happily married like the other characters in the Twelfth Night.
Malvolio is perhaps the character with the least happy ending, and the character who the audience feels the most pity for. At the end of Twelfth Night, Malvolio is left extremely humiliated, hurt and seeking revenge. At first he seems like a minor character, but as the play progresses the audience can see that he is the main character in the subplot. Previously in the play he was ‘gulled’ by Sir Toby Belch, Maria, Fabien and Feste, and branded a ‘madman’. Malvolios circumstances in Act 4 Scene 2 make the audience feel uneasily aware of the fact that Malvolios unhappiness and humiliation is a source of pleasure and mean satisfaction for the other characters. After being locked up in a dark room, and humiliated by thinking he was undergoing an ‘exorcism’, Malvolio finally gets out, only to find that his ordeal is not over, and towards the end of the play, things become clear fot the audience that Malvolio will not get a happy ending.
Whilst he is locked up, he writes a letter to Olivia, which becomes another source of humiliation for Malvolio. This is shown at the end of Act 5, Scene 1, firstly because Feste does not deliver this letter to Olivia as fast as he could have done, subsequently it takes longer for everything to be revealed to Malvolio, so everyone still thinks that he is a ‘madman’. On line 290, Fabien reads out Malvolios letter to Olivia. Malvolio signs the letter with “the madly used Malvolio”. Shortly after Fabien has read out Malvolio’s letter to Olivia,...
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