Act ii scene v of “Twelfth Night” is the scene in which Maria, Toby, Andrew and Fabian drop the letter that Malvolio thinks is from Olivia to him and therefore he will be humiliated in front of her. Shakespeare makes this scene dramatic in various ways.
Prior to Act ii scene v the audience already dislike Malvolio. Malvolio feels able to speak down to Sir Toby who is socially superior because he is full of his own self-importance:
“My masters are you mad? Or what are you? Have you no wit, manners, nor honesty, but to gabble like tinkers at this time of night?”Order now
This makes the audience dislike Malvolio because he thinks that he is better that the others and because he is a puritan he thinks that no one else should have any fun. Toby reminds him of his position:
“Art any more than a steward”
This reminds Malvolio that he has spoken out of turn and this makes the audience dislike him more. Toby also criticises Malvolio’s puritanical views:
” Dost thou think because thou art virtuous there shall be no more cakes and ale?” The audience, now having been informed of Malvolio’s puritanical views, would feel that Malvolio just does not want others to have fun when he cannot.
Also in this scene Malvolio threatens Maria:
“Mistress Mary, if you priz’d my lady’s favour at any more that contempt, you would not give means for this uncivil rule; she shall know of it by this hand” This makes the audience dislike Malvolio more because he is threatening Maria.
Next the plan is hatched for revenge on Malvolio.
“If I do not gull him into a nayword, and make him a common recreation, do not think I have wit enough to lie straight in my bed” When Maria says this the audience feel pleased as they know that Malvolio is going to be humiliated.
At the end 2:3 the audience dislike Malvolio intensely and are looking forward to seeing him humiliated in the coming scenes.
At the beginning of Act ii scene v the audience discovers more about Malvolio’s character. Malvolio is dreaming about being married to Olivia.
“Having been there 3 months married to her, sitting in my state”
This shows that although in front of people Malvolio calls himself a puritan, on his own he is very lustful and shows no sign of Puritanism. The audience discovers that Malvolio is also very power hungry.
“Toby approaches; courtesies there to me”
This makes Toby very angry as Malvolio is talking about how he would treat Toby and this makes the audience dislike him more because they realise that he would abuse his power over Toby. Malvolio is also very vain for example when Maria says
” He has been yonder I’ the sun practising behaviour to his own shadow”
This reveals to the audience that although Malvolio comes across as a man who does not like to show his opinion of himself he is- when on his own- admiring himself.
The stage arrangement in Act ii scene v also adds to the drama. Malvolio is standing at the front of the stage and Toby, Andrew and Fabian are hiding behind a tree at the side of the stage. Toby is furious as Malvolio is talking about how he would treat Toby and Olivia. This makes the audience tense, as they are worried that as Toby is shouting Malvolio will hear him and the plan will be found out. An example of this is when Fabian says:
“Nay patience, or we break the sinews of our plot.” The audience is anxious because Malvolio is close by and Toby is shouting because he is so angry that Malvolio is talking about leaving Olivia in a day bed and summoning Toby and the audience do not want Malvolio to here him as they want him to be humiliated. Therefore the stage arrangement also adds to the drama because it makes the audience tense.
Dramatic irony also contributes to the drama of Act ii scene v the audience already knows about the plot from a previous scene but Malvolio does not. Malvolio thinks that the letter is from Olivia and this creates excitement, as the audience knows that Malvolio is about to be humiliated.
Therefore when Malvolio is reading the letter about the wonderful things that are going to happen the audience enjoy watching him because they know that he is going to be destroyed and it makes them feel more involved.
Shakespeare’s use of language is important to the drama because of his use of imagery to remind the audience that everything is not a Malvolio thinks it is.
Shakespeare uses hunting imagery:
“For her comes the trout that must be caught with tickling” This imagery is comparing Malvolio to an animal which is being hunted.
Shakespeare also uses sporting imagery. For example when Fabian says:
“If I lose a scruple of this sport, let me be boil’d to death with melancholy” It is clear that to Andrew, Toby and Fabian this is only a game and this reminds the audience that Malvolio is only a play thing. Malvolio thinks he is going to be elevated but the language used by Shakespeare shows the audience that in fact he is not going to be elevated. Therefore the language used in this scene makes it particularly dramatic because the audience are constantly reminded that Malvolio is the one who is going to be humiliated, not Toby.
At the end of the scene Maria’s final speech makes this scene particularly dramatic because she whets the audiences appetite for what is going to happen. She is talking to Toby and Andrew but the audience also feels included and feels that they are involved in the plan. Maria then predicts what will happen. “He will come to her in yellow stockings, and ’tis a colour she abhors, and cross-garter’d, a fashion she detests: and he will smile upon her, which will now be so unsuitable to her disposition, being addicted to melancholy.” This excites the reader and they cannot wait for the next, as they know that Malvolio is going to be humiliated. Maria then invites the audience to watch the rest of the play.
“If you will see it follow me” This makes the audience feel involved and want to see the rest of the play. Therefore, Maria’s final speech makes this scene particularly dramatic because it includes the audience and invites them to be part of their secret plan.
Therefore it is clear that Shakespeare makes this scene dramatic by giving the audience further details of Malvolio’s character, the stage arrangement, the use of dramatic irony, the use of language and Maria’s final speech.