Twelfth Night second lecture

January 9, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Arts & Humanities, Performing Arts, Comedy
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Twelfth Night second lecture

TN as festive comedy

Comedy and disorder • • • • • • • • •

Orsino’s disordered emotions. Viola’s desperate situation Toby’s opinion of Olivia’s mourning: 1, 3. Itself a disordered opinion? And he an example of disordered living? Aguecheek as wooer. Feste’s absence: I, 5. Anger of Olivia toward fool. Enmity of Feste and Malvolio, ll. 77ff.

More disorder • • • • • •

Olivia’s disordered love. Disordered merriment of II, 3. Reversal of night and morning. Noise, song, drink. Malvolio’s objection: 87ff. Maria’s disordered affection for Toby: l. 180.

Comedy as Courting • All Shakespeare’s comedies concern the in-between world leading up to marriage. • A psychic world of instability. • Love as profoundly disorienting. • Producing extravagant behavior. • Unsettled identity of lovers. • The necessity of disorder and exploration?

Twelfth Night and courting • • • •

Variety of wooers of Olivia Aguecheek as wooer of Olivia. Malvolio as wooer of Olivia: II, 5. Orsino as wooer of Olivia: Feste’s opinion of his mind: II, 4 73. • Orsino and men’s fancies: II, 4, 39. • But his opinion of the character of women’s love: II, 4, 94. • Olivia’s sense of her own “madness”: III, 4, 13.

Malvolio’s “madness” • His name. • He stands out against the festivity, merriment. • Maria: “Marry, sir, sometimes he is a kind of Puritan.” II. 3, 140. • Or not: 146ff. • Only “serious” character in play? • His dream of social climbing. • Malvolio the “shadow side” of Shakespeare’s own dream of advancement? (Greenblatt)

Rationality of Malvolio’s madness? • Contrast of his sobriety and appearance. • Yellow stockings, cross gartered

More cross-garteringg

Toby’s revenge? • • • • •

Malvolio’s transformation: III, 4, 6ff. Olivia’s concern for him: ll. 64-65. His soliloquy: 66ff Bear-baiting? “Go hang yourselves all! I am not of your element.” • Fabian: “If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction.” • “His very genius hath taken infection of the device.”

And Feste’s revenge • • • • • •

More bear-baiting: Feste as parson: IV, 2 Does it go too far? Toby’s wish to have it over: l. 69ff. Feste doubling of his role. Are they trying to drive Malvolio mad? But Malvolio seems to remain relentlessly sane. • Audience’s sympathies?

Malvolio’s structural role • • • •

Olivia’s attempt to correct the wrong: V, 1, 290ff. His almost tragic pathos: 338ff. He becomes the scapegoat of the comedy, the one who carries the weight rancor and ill humor. • Should he at this point accept his comic role and laugh? • But he rather bears the ill humor off the stage with a curse: “I’ll be revenged on the whole pack of you!” • To whom analogous in Merchant?

Feste as jester • Immediately in opposition to Malvolio. • And to Olivia? Why to Olivia? • Viola and the Fool: III, 1: “a sentence is but a cheverill glove to a good wit.” • Melancholy sense of what words become. • “I am indeed not her fool, but her corrupter of words.” • Viola on the “work” of the fool: 61ff.

Feste’s music • What to make of his songs? • They seem curiously “throw-away” in terms of their lyrics. • “Carpe diem” at II, 3; • Heavy-duty sadness and love at II, 4. • Imparting a kind of generalized melancholy? • Final song – what to make of it?

Disorder and violence • Psychic violence suffered by Antonio: V, 1, 76ff. • Orsino’s threatened violence, V, 1, 117ff. • And to Cesario: 129ff. • Cesario’s unintended violence to Olivia. • “His” rejection by Orsino: 164ff. • Actual violence to Aguecheek and Toby. • Final violence is the only threatened revenge of Malvolio

Recognition scene • Shakespearean comedy ends in marriage(s). • And so here: Viola/Cesario is interchangeable with Sebastian, Cesario/Viola acceptable to Orsino. • But the real conclusion is the revelation of the sister and brother, • which very slowly unfolds: V, 1, 226ff. • And in fact the brother-sister revelation allows “nature” to prevail (sorry, Antonio): “Nature to her bias drew in that.” • And allows the marriages.

Except Malvolio • His entry at this point and the revelation of the trickery against him. • Does it invite him to reconciliation? • Does his rejection of that cast a shadow over the conclusion? • Feste’s song seems to reject thematic closure. • Leaving us with both the satisfaction of a comic ending and a sense of openendedness?

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