Twelfth Night: Caste (Love and social structure (Marrying into wealth was…
Twelfth Night: Caste
Act 1 Scene 5
Olivia: "Take the fool away"
Feste: "Do you not hear, fellows? Take away the lady."
• Feste rejects Olivia's order, acting against social structure where he would be below a lady.
• Feste convinces Olivia not to chase him out of the house
Connection to Arcadia
• Scene with Septimus convincing Lady Croom not to chase him out after she sends off Mr and Mrs Chater and Captain Brice
• Both scenes have a lady ordering an individual in their household to leave, and this person convincing them otherwise
• Feste fools Olivia, while Septimus flatters Lady Croom for her to soften
• Feste proves Olivia a fool, yet Malvolio still treats him with contempt.
• This symbolises Malvolio's subordinance to Olivia leading to his devout support even when she is clearly proved a fool.
Act 1 Scene 3
Maria to Sir Toby:
"That quaffing and drinking will undo you" (1:3:11)
Mocking Sir Andrew from Sir Toby and Maria
- In the renaissance the caste it was nearly impossible to go up the social ladder but easy to downgrade.
- Indicates that foolishness can damage the caste.
"Hath all the good gifts of nature"(1:3:23)
"He's a fool, he's a great quarrel; and that he hath the gift of a coward"
- It is ironic to say that Sir Andrew has nature's gifts as he is seen as a coward.
- This shows us that in the higher levels of caste people were showing off and generally were arrogant and egoistic.
Act 2 Scene 3
Malvolio to everyone partying:
"Is there no respect of place, persons nor time in you?" (2:3:79)
- Malvolio shows here that he as a steward tries to show a higher status than Sir Toby and Sir Andrew. This happens because Malvolio as a steward has little impact and power. In this situation he gets a change to show his status. This tells us about his egoism and power hunger.
"I'll write thee a challenge, or I'll deliver thy indignation to him by word of mouth" (2:3:110-111)
- This behavior from Sir Toby that nobody takes Malvolio seriously and this foreshadows the future events of fooling him.
"He shall think by letters that thou wilt drop that they came from my niece, and that she's in love with him" (2:3:139-140)
- Sir Toby wants to bring revenge upon Malvolio by fooling him and making him feel his status is higher because it would say in the letter that Olivia "loves him".
Overview: In twelfth night caste is important here as it shows the audience how they characters will behave. Usually people who have higher status are patronizing but those who belong in lower status, they try to make them selves seem higher and try to fool others which is visible by the audience.
Malvolio is a character of a singular complexity. He is ernest, repressed, arrogant and he is socially uncertain. He tries to make himself of a high status by speaking provocatively to characters of high status which is comical as he is fully of arrogance and as he lives in his own created delusional world. This can be seen in his parodied love to Olivia as he stuck in his belief and self-love and affection that allows him to think that what he wants is above anything.
Source: Stevie Davies commentary on Twelfth Night
The title 'Twelfth Night' is a reference to the archaic celebration after Christmas of the Feast of Fools. Normal behaviour would be suspended, and in the midst of celebration authority would be upturned and even a 'Lord of Misrule'- a servant now the master of the household for the celebratory period- chosen. The subtitle, too, refers to a rebellion against structure and freedom. 'Or What You Will' highlights the play as fantastical and not necessarily adhering to standards, which can include class structure.