It is believed that some Shakespearean scholars put forward that the character Malvolio was inspired by a puritan landowner Sir Thomas Posthumous Hoby, who was involved in a famous court case against many of his Yorkshire neighbours in the early 1600s. Hoby sued his neighbours when they came uninvited to his house, drank, played cards, mocked his religion, and threatened to rape his wife. Hoby ended up winning damages in the case. This incident would have influenced the scene where Malvolio interrupts Sir Toby’s late-night revelling.
Malvolio can be considered an adversary of festive enjoyment and community.
Given that the Puritans were adamantly opposed to the theatres, constanly trying to close them; it is not surprising that there were some devastating parodies of the Puritan mentality on the stage. Shakespeare’s art tends to the ironical rather than the satirical; but there is at least one caricature in his plays aimed at Puritans: Malvolio in Twelfth Night.
He is the source and instrument used to create the best humour in the play.
Through Malvolio, Shakespeare intended to show that individuals need to have a balanced sense of self-awareness, to recognize their flaws, and to try to correct such flaws -- something Malvolio fails to do. Shakespeare uses the character Malvolio to portray the need for a well-balanced self-awareness.
The character Malvolio (meaning literally “I mean ill will) is immediately affected by the implications of his name. His personage is implied directly to be one of negative and somewhat disagreeable nature, which is continued and supported throughout the play, leading to his downfall and mockery which both initially seem to be thoroughly deserved, due to his numerous defects of personality.
The first evidence of Malvolio’s undesirable disposition comes with his own first appearance in the play during which he makes a point of insulting the wit and intelligence of Feste “I marvel your ladyship takes delight in such a barren...