Is the Treatment of Malvolio by the Other Characters of Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare Fair or Unfair?
In Twelfth Night, Shakespeare has created an interesting plotline involving Olivia's servant Malvolio and the other members of Olivia's household. This plotline involves the members of Olivia's household playing a trick on Malvolio due to his treatment of them earlier in the play. It has long been debated whether Malvolio's treatment was justified by his earlier behaviour or the actions of the members of Olivia's household are malicious and cruel. This question forces audiences of Twelfth Night to balance Malvolio's crimes with their sympathy for him. In order to achieve a satisfying result, Malvolio's behaviour and treatment must be considered.
Malvolio is the steward of Olivia’s house and is in control of everything that goes on with the servants. He is always looking to make things perfect, and things that are unorthodox, like Sir Toby and Sir Andrew, have to be rid of. ‘”If you can separate yourself and your misdemeanours, you are welcome to the house. If not, and it would please you to take leave of her, she is very willing to bid you farewell.”’ Even though Malvolio says that Olivia would want them to leave if they carried on being loud and rude, I think that he is just saying that because he wants them to leave. The first evidence of Malvolio’s adverse behaviour is his first appearance in the play during which he insults the wit of Feste. “’I marvel your ladyship takes delight in such a barren rascal”’. By doing this he shows himself to be a person who tries to humiliate people whom he believes are lower than himself.
Malvolio is interpreted as a Puritan and the other characters should certainly not discriminate against him due to his religion, “The devil a puritan that he is”. He denies himself indulgences and pleasure whilst at the same time begrudging these things of others. He makes a point of taking the moral high ground over Maria, Feste...