Romance and comedy are both very important parts of what makes the play, Twelfth Night, entertaining and fun to watch. This story from William Shakespeare is classified as a Romantic Comedy play. Comedy should entertain a general audience; a romantic comedy is classified as a play that deals with love in a light yet humorous way. It is usually a dramatic work that is light, and often set in a satirical tone (a literary work in which sarcasm is used to entertain). Twelfth Night is believed to have been written around 1601“1602 as twelfth night’s entertainment for the close of the Christmas season. The play is centered on twins Viola and Sebastian, who are separated in a shipwreck. William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor who was widely regarded as both the greatest writer in the English language. The audience at a comedy is likely to feel slightly superior, and distant from the comic figures. In the Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare uses different literary devices along with romance and comedy to present to his audience different types of humor through a specific character named Sir Toby Belch. Sir Toby Belch, who is a funny drunkard, is not the smartest person and he also causes trouble throughout the play.
Sir Toby Belch is a character in Shakespeare’s, Twelfth Night. At the beginning of the play, Sir Toby is said the be the Lord of the Misrule, who was appointed to manage the Christmas festivities held at court during this time of celebration. Sir Toby Belch is fair lady Olivia’s uncle in this romantic comedy play. Sir Toby is funny yet embarrassing when he is drunk. Sir Toby Belch lives with his niece Olivia. Olivia is a beautiful Illyria lady, and she does not approve of his heavy drinking problem. Sir Toby partakes in this behavior along with his friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Sir Andrew is the type of character who thinks highly of himself, but he is not the smartest character. Some might even say he is dumb. Sir Toby takes advantage of Sir Andrew Aguecheek using constant flattery and making Sir Andrew believe that he can win Olivia’s hand in marriage. Olivia is sad throughout the play because she lost her brother. But because of her wealth and her beauty she is loved by several men, all of which want to marry her. Thought-out the play different men would try and get Olivia to marry them, and Orsino ends up proposing to Olivia. The fighting over Olivia can also contribute to the romantic comedy of the play. Sir Toby knows that Sir Andrew is a fool and a coward, but he continues to be his friend because they can be dumb together which makes the comedy in the play even better. Sir Toby states Never trust me, then. And by all means stir on the young to an answer. I think oxen and wainropes cannot hale them together. For Andrew, if he were opened and you find so much blood in his liver as will clog the foot of a flea, I’ll eat the rest of the anatomy (Act 3, Scene 2, lines 53-57). This states that Sir Toby thinks that Sir Andrew is not the smartest person, and he uses his comedy to show how much he thinks this is true. This also shows how he uses his humor to connect with the audience and keep them interested as the play goes on. The humor of Sir Toby and Sir Andrew continues through-out the play.
I hate a drunken rogue (Act 5, Scene 1, lines 198). These are ironic words coming from Sir Toby Belch, who provides most of the humor in Twelfth Night and is best described as a drunk. We are first introduced to Sir Toby in Act 1, scene 3 when Maria is chiding him for disturbing Olivia’s household with his nightly drinking, late hours, and the poor company he keeps. Maria is Olivia’s gentlewoman. While Maria is trying to keep Sir Toby from being stubborn like he is Sir Toby states, Confine? I’ll confine myself no finer than I am. These clothes are good enough to drink in, and so be these boots too- an’ they be not, let them hang themselves in their own straps! (Act 1, Scene 3, lines 9-12). In this quotation Sir Toby uses puns and a metaphor saying that the boots should hang themselves with their straps giving the word hang a double meaning. This is humorous as he is using many forms of phrasing that the audience in Shakespearean times would have found hilarious. This may not necessarily be funny in the current 21st century, but this is still funny today, just maybe not as funny as it was then. The audience has a lot to do with how funny the play was. Many people would not go to see a play like the Twelfth Night today just because it is not what people are interested in. The atmosphere also contributes to the play and how the audience reacts to the play. During the 17th century plays are in outdoor theaters called globe theaters.
Sir Toby has many flaws that one might could say shine brightly throughout the play. He is also very unpredictable, which is shown when he marries Maria even though she is Olivia’s gentlewoman and is below Sir Toby’s noble class. The noble classes during this period are very important. Noble classes are different classifications from rich, middle, and poor. Most of the time, people do not marry outside of their noble classes, but in the play Sir Toby marries Maria. It is also funny to the audience that Sir Toby marries a gentlewoman. A gentlewoman is a woman who is good to her family, smart, and has good manners. This is humorous to the audience because Sir Toby is the complete opposite in the fact that he has terrible manners and is not that smart. Sir Toby and Maria are married by the end of the play. Sir Toby marries Maria to make Malvolio jealous which makes Malvolio mad because he thought that Maria loved him. Sir Toby can be summed up by this line, Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ales (Act 2, Scene 3, lines 114-115). This line shows that Sir Toby plans to live his life the way he chooses to, and he basically is saying that no one can stop him or try to make him live any other way. This is just the type of person that Sir Toby is through the play. Throughout the entire play Sir Toby does not let people tell him what to do. This is mostly because he thinks that he is smart and as it has been stated before he is not that smart, he is mostly a drunk.
Twelfth Night is a romantic comedy play wrote by William Shakespeare around 1601“1602 as entertainment for the close of the Christmas season. This wonderful play by Shakespeare is a romantic comedy which is a play that deals with love in a light yet humorous way. Shakespeare has written many different plays, but this one is more humorous than any of the others. There are several characters in this play that are humorous, but Sir Toby Belch sticks out the most. Sir Toby’s personality is like a comedian by the way he keeps the audience laughing as the play goes on. He is also good at the creation of problems with his unique yet strange personality. Sir Toby is the most enjoyable character in the entire play. It might be argued that Sir Toby has a very irresponsible and nature, which may come across as an unattractive aspect of his character throughout the play. In the Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare uses different ways of humor to make up this romantic comedy play. Much of the humor in Twelfth Night comes from Sir Toby Belch, Sir Toby Belch is a funny drunk who mostly causes problems and keep the play humorous.
Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, edited by Stephen Greenblatt et al, ed. 9, vol. B, W.W. Norton & Company, 2012, pp. 1189-1250.
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