Written in 1599 and first performed in 1602, "Twelfth Night?, like other Shakespearean comedies, presents us with a blend of realism and a fanciful atmosphere. The main plot deals with the love triangle between the countess Olivia, her suitor the Duke Orsino, and Viola, a shipwrecked young woman disguised as Cesario. Nevertheless, the plot is quite intricate. While the love triangle is formed, Olivia's drunken uncle sir Toby Belch, her lady-in-waiting Maria, and her would-be suitor sir Andrew Aguecheek, with the fool Feste, hatch a plot against Olivia's steward Malvolio, who interrupted their late-night carousing during the third scene of the second act. In the last scene of the second act, Maria leaves a love letter in which she imitates Olivia's style, and sir Toby, sir Andrew and their new recruit Fabian all hide to watch Malvolio take the bait.
[...] However, this scene arouses a certain amount of questions, when Malvolio is compared with the other characters. Indeed, Malvolio is not the only one who loves without being loved in return in the play (Viola encounters the same problem with Orsino, and Orsino with Lady Olivia) and his love is not the only one which is opposed by social barriers (Viola disguised as the servant Cesario is in love with the Duke Orsino).There is moreover the allusion in the text of sir Toby who says, speaking about Maria: could marry this wench for this device” (l.182): even if this affirmation is not taken seriously, the possibility of a wedding between the nobleman Sir Toby and the servant Maria is considered: so why Malvolio is the only one ridiculed? [...]
[...] While the main plot is based on romance, this scene is entirely based on jest- we may besides notice that the entire scene is written in prose , whereas the scenes in which Viola or Orsino are present are written in blank verse, in iambic pentameter. The ultimate goal for Maria is to present a pleasant scene, as she avows when she says she acts the name of jesting and the love of mockery” (l.18). The scene is based on all the conventional comical process. [...]
[...] The scene appears like a play within the play, a comedy within the comedy: Maria could be considered as the stage director: Indeed, she gives stage directions ye all 3 into the box-tree” (l.15),she is present in the beginning, absent during the scene, and she comes back to salute at the end, and she enquires about the success of her comedy “does it (l.95), as a stage director who asks the opinion of the audience. The audience is constituted by Andrew, Toby and Fabian: they comment on what they see, they congratulate the stage director Maria at the end: noble gull-catcher” (l.187). [...]
[...] Frye adds in Anatomy of Criticism, that “satire is parody of romance”: and this scene could be seen as a comical rewriting of the main plot Malvolio/Olivia being a parody of the main couple Orsino/Viola. Malvolio was hitherto a flat character but during this scene, Malvolio becomes a round character. E.M. Forster, in the Essential theory of fiction, defines a flat character as a character who could be summed up in one sentence: in the case of Malvolio, he could be defined as the killjoy. [...]
[...] Malvolio begins to appear slightly pathetic even if the scene remains comic. Malvolio is a very complex character and that is why, the comedy is bitterer: we don't really know if he is not in fact a mere scapegoat, if he has really deserved this humiliation. Once again, this bitterness will be more stressed in the end of the play- this scene remains really comical. It is only the settlement of the real humiliation: the scene is a kind of incipit: the characters announce that the trick will go on, when they affirm: will not give my part of this sport” (l.180), or you will then see the fruits of the sport” (l.197).They suggest that the worst is to come for Malvolio, but in a way it is even more embarrassing because Malvolio has already been humiliated so we wonder what will happen. [...]
using our reader.