"The Truth About Foolishness" in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
William Shakespeare used a unique device to explain how foolishness is an unavoidable part of everyday life. He employed many specific examples of foolishness in his comedy play titled Twelfth Night. Each of the characters he created were all foolish in one way or another. Not only do the characters entertain the audience, but also educate the audience as they portray mankind avoiding obvious truth.
Shakespeare takes a humorous approach to expose the ways we fall prey to pride, vanity and self-deception. As the story unfolds, the characters discover their faults before they can do any real harm to themselves or anyone else. Fortunately, only embarrassment or humiliation are the result. Combinations of comedy, personality and irony are all qualities each character reveals to exhibit the many types of fools we can all be.
The most common type of fool in society is usually the simpleton, or a "natural" fool. Sir Andrew Aguecheek is an excellent example. Although Sir Andrew is funny, it is not intentional. His faults include a lack of wit, a tendency to be easily amused, and the opportunity to be manipulated by others to be accepted. His foolishness is revealed innocently, as he considers himself a gentleman.
His attempts to flirt with Maria by showing how clever he is fail when Sir Toby advises him to accost, in other words, to woo her. Sir Andrew thinks "accost" is her name as he addresses her, "Good Mistress Mary Accost-" (I, III, 54). After his embarrassing introduction to Maria, Sir Andrew tries to salvage his dignity by laughing at himself as he says, "Methinks sometimes I have no more wit than a Christian or an ordinary man has. But I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit" (I, III, 83-86). It is clear that Sir Andrew is easily taken advantage of at his expense.
Another way foolishness is exposed, is through love. For...
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