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Feste is a professional fool who belongs to Olivia, a rich Countess. He is very intelligent and witty. 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 Festes opinions, he values the fools 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 Festes 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.
Feste gives Olivia the advice she seeks The more fool, Madonna, to mourn for your brothers soul being in heaven. 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 fools 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 Olivias seven years of mourning are unnecessary and for her to get married while she is still young. Feste offers a lot of music in twelfth night but his songs are not meant to be funny. They contain a strong meaning that he is trying to get through to the other characters in the play and that there are many principles in his songs. The song he sings at the end of the play shows that in a very strong way. Moreover, it shows us that he has the very last word in the play. He also uses the music to add to our knowledge of the play. Festes songs have a romantic meaning in them. O mistress mine, where are you roaming? Feste sings songs about death and loss as well. Come away, come away, death. He also puts into perspective that life does not always go the way we plan and all the finer things in life must come to an end one way or another. In playing the role of Sir Topaz (the priest), he adds a lot of humour into the play and entertains the audience well and helps the action in the play take its course.
Feste provides laughter in the play, which also has a healing effect on the characters and he exposes a way in which the characters in the play fall victim to pride, conceit and self-deception. Feste is portrayed as a very wise and intelligent person who appears to be and act like a fool on the outside though a very prudent person on the inside who is considerate and loyal. He understands the people around him very well and knows the way they think and trys to help them in his own way. Finally, Feste is no more a fool other than his professional status than the people around him are and he is the only character who can restore a feeling of unity to twelfth night at its ending.
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