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Word Count: 1,200
Malvolio initially seems to be a minor character and the trick played on him seems little more than an amusing subplot to the Viola-Orsino-Olivia love triangle But he becomes more interesting as the play develops into one of the most complex characters in Twelfth Night When we first meet Malvolio he seems to be a simple type--a puritan a stiff and proper servant who likes to spoil other peoples fun It is this dour fun-despising side that earns him the hate of the loopy Sir Toby and the clever Maria who together create a trick to play on him But they do so by playing on a side of Malvolio that might have otherwise remained disguised--his self-regard and his ideas above his station which extend to marrying Olivia and becoming as he puts it Count Malvolio II v 30 Malvolio works as a steward in the household of the countess Olivia a powerful unmarried woman in Illyria Olivia finds that Malvolio is useful in protecting her from unwanted suitors and for enforcing discipline among the hangers-on who cavort around her property At the same time Olivia recognises his serious flaws when she witnesses him arguing with the plays fool Feste she gives a direct analysis of his character You are sick of self-love Malvolio and taste with a distempered appetite To be generous guiltless and of free disposition is to take those things for bird-bolts that you deem cannon bullets Iv85-88 Playwrights in Elizabethan times often had a Puritan as one of their characters just for an easy laugh Making fun of Puritans in the theatre at that time was a kind of cheap sport since the Puritans were unpopular with the audience as well as among those who supported the theatre The Puritans on the stage were usually minor parts and were mainly stereotypes of the pompous slow-witted do-gooder Strangely Shakespeare seems to have had comparatively little interest in ridiculing Puritans and
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