The Carnivalesque Role of the Fool in Twelfth Night and the Servant of Two Masters

Topics: Laughter, Laughter in animals, Gelotology Pages: 4 (1421 words) Published: April 13, 2011
Twelfth Night and The Servant of Two Masters both relate to this course’s theme of the carnivalesque. Both plays share the commonality of having a clown, or a fool; in Twelfth Night it is Feste or the Fool, and in The Servant of Two Masters it is Truffaldino. Both characters play the fool in contrasting ways to express similar yet different forms of the carnivalesque. During carnival, laughter is prominent; people are laughing together, they are laughing at each other, and they are being laughed at. The laughter of carnival is both malicious and happy and everyone is included in it. Feste and Truffaldino show the different aspects of carnival laughter through their portrayals of the fool. Feste plays the role of the artificial fool and because of this people laugh with him at his wit and humor. As an artificial fool, Feste is a bit removed from the action of the play. He is in contact with almost every character but he is not what drives the main plot. By being detached, Feste is able to observe what is going on more and laugh with the audience. Feste further proves he is an artificial fool with his trick against Malvolio. The trick was though out carefully and done out of revenge so that people would laugh at Malvolio and with Feste. Truffaldino plays the role of the natural fool. Because he is a natural fool, people laugh at him, not with him. When he tricks his two masters, the tricks are not well thought out and are done only to cover up previous tricks. His messes and blunders cause the audience to laugh at him but he is too wrapped up in the action of the play to even notice. By playing the artificial fool, Feste is able to display the dimension of carnival laughter where he laughs with others. Turffaldino displays the dimension of carnival laughter where he is laughed at by playing the natural fool.

Although both characters are defined as fools, they fall into different categories of the fool. Feste is an artificial fool. He plays the...

Cited: Goldoni, Carlo. The Servant of Two Masters. Trans. Edward J. Dent. The Servant of Two
Masters: and Other Italian Classics. Ed. Eric Bentley. New York: Applause Theatre
Book, 1986. 79-169. Print.
Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night. Ed. Burton Raffel. New Haven and London: Yale UP,
2007. Print.
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