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The roles of Malvolio and Sir Toby in Twelfth Night In Twelfth Night the contrasting roles of Malvolio and Sir Toby Belch help the play develop to the fullest possible extent In one respect the two characters work as purely comedic players bringing joy to the audience in the form of drunkenness and pranks But beyond the lighter surface of the play lies a deeper meaning Toby and Malvolio have very different views of life The divergent appearance of these two figures gives the viewer of the play a standard by which to judge the other characters and in so doing makes the play easier to follow Malvolio embodies the complex side of an average person while Sir Toby represents the simple easily amused side of humanity Malvolios role in this respect is more difficult to comprehend he deceives himself into thinking that Olivia is in love with him thereby contributing to his own misery These aspects of Shakespeares Twelfth Night contribute to the realistic portrayal of each character while at the same time bringing out the plays comedic overtones Malvolio brings a powerful presence to the play when he is forced to play the fool He who at one point defined the word puritan now finds himself in a new role that of a cross-gartered lover In this way he shows himself to be a hypocrite he lowers himself to the level of Toby when he becomes a player himself Maurice Charney describes the role of Malvolio quite well saying The most obvious effect of this structure is to focus attention upon Malvolio and to make him a central figure at every stageCharney 160 He tries to step into an entirely different realm one of mastership over servantry He is socially inferior to Olivia causing his hopes to be looked at as mere presumptions What Malvolio fails to see is that his marriage to Olivia should be dismissed as nothing more than a dream
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