The Role of Feste

            Feste is a professional fool who belongs to Olivia, a rich Countess. Even though he belongs to Olivia, he also entertains Orsino, Duke of Illyria. Everyone in the play clearly respects him and they generally do not treat him as a fool. They talk to him seriously, ask him for advice and join him in pranks. His realistic speeches are comical and light-hearted, but most of the time he makes logical points. He entertains the other characters in the play with his songs and jokes. Under the pretence of making jokes, Feste evaluates the behavior of those around him. It is quite interesting to observe how the other characters react to him. Olivia and Orsino both let Feste instruct them. Though Orsino has no appreciation for Feste's opinions, he values the fool's ability to sing melancholy songs. On the other hand, Malvolio who is obsessed with him self and does not want to face the reality of his vanity is very uncomfortable around Feste. Malvolio is not amused and he insults the fool and brags that he is too smart to be amused by a fool. Most of Feste's jokes, which are based on wordplay, can be quite difficult to understand. Despite the fact that Feste is a fool, he is not at all stupid and probably understands the people around him more than they do themselves. Feste plays the part of a fool well though in truth he is actually very wise.

             "Well, God give them wisdom that have it; and those that are fools, let them use their talents.” (Act 1, Scene 5) .

             Feste gives Olivia the advice she seeks "The more fool, Madonna, to mourn for your brother's soul being in heaven.” (Act 1, Scene 5) .

             Feste has the skill to show people their own silliness. He can move freely and comfortably within one social rank to another. Olivia appreciates the fool's ability to amuse her and the ability to give her comfort about her deceased brother. His jokes can also be seen as a suggestion that Olivia's seven years of mourning are unnecessary and for her to get married while she is still young.

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