Act 2 Scene 5 of ‘Twelfth Night’ by William Shakespeare is the scene in which Maria, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Fabian lay the foundation of their revenge by leaving a letter for Malvolio supposedly written by Olivia saying that she loves him. The scene is made dramatic in various ways.
First of all, prior to Act 2 Scene 5, the audience already dislike Malvolio. This is because he feels he can talk down to Sir Toby who is socially his superior: “my masters are you mad? Or what are you? Have you no wit, manners, nor honesty, but to gable like tinkers at this time of night?” This makes the audience dislike Malvolio because he thinks he has more right to have control over Sir Toby. We know that Sir Toby does not like Malvolio speaking down to him because he gets angry and reminds Malvolio of his position: “out o’ tune Sir, ye lie, art any more than a steward?” This adds to the drama of Act 2 Scene 5 because by the end of the previous scene the audience are already looking forward to seeing Toby, Andrew, Fabian and Maria get revenge on Malvolio.Order now
Another point is, in Act 2 scene 5, the audience discover more about Malvolio’s character when he is in the garden talking to himself. He is revealing his true character because he thinks he is alone. We discover that in reality he is quite vein and thinks he has more importance that he does: “he has been yonder I’ the sun practising behaviour to his own shadow.” He jumps to conclusions when he finds the letter and automatically assumes it is for him: “M, Malvolio; M why, that begins my name!” Then he says: “To be count Malvolio” already putting himself into a higher position. This makes the audience think he is arrogant and they cannot wait to see him humiliated.
In addition, the stage arrangement also adds to the drama and suspense of this scene. Malvolio is at the front of the stage, thinking he is alone, but secretly Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Fabian are hiding behind a bush in the garden. This adds to the tension because the audience know the other characters are there and can hear everything. Malvolio starts to pretend to order Toby around: “you must amend your drunkenness.” This makes Sir Toby angry and he starts to speak out loud: “shall this fellow live?” This builds suspense as the audience wonder if he is going to blow his cover and spoil the plot. As he gets more angry he speaks louder and louder and the audience get more and more tense as they wonder what will happen. This keeps them interested and involved.
Further more, dramatic Irony also contributes to the drama of Act 2 Scene 5 because the audience know that Malvolio is being tricked and therefore feel they are part of the plot to humiliate him. They enjoy watching this happen because they dislike him and so enjoy watching him build up false hope when really none of what he believes is true. They are looking forward to seeing what is going to happen because they know he is going to make a fool of himself and therefore they feel more involved because they know something Malvolio does not.
Moreover, Shakespeare’s language plays an important part in the play because it reminds us of the theme of the scene. Malvolio begins to use ‘Thou’ when referring to Olivia, making him seem more important and of higher authority as he already feels equal to her. The audience don’t like this because they already know he is full of self importance and arrogant. They react by becoming more eager for him to be humiliated. Shakespeare also uses hunting imagery and insults and to remind the audience that Malvolio is going to be caught: “Here comes the trout, that must be caught with tickling.” This suggests that Malvolio is being compared to an animal and is being hunted down. Therefore, it reminds the audience that Malvolio is not as important as he thinks and he is just a source of entertainment to Toby, Andrew and Fabian.
Finally, Maria’s final speech at the end of the scene adds to the drama because it sums up the whole scene and reminds us of what is going to happen next. “He will come to her in yellow stockings, and ’tis a colour she abhors.” She is talking to Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, Fabian and the audience. This involves the audience in the plot once again and leaves them in suspense waiting for the revenge on Malvolio. She says: “if you will see it follow me.” She is inviting the audience to watch the rest of the play and involving them in the plot. Sir Toby then ends the scene by saying: “To the gates of tartar, thou most excellent devil of wit.” He is urging the play on and filling the audience with excitement and anticipation.
Therefore, in conclusion, it is clear that Shakespeare has successfully made this a dramatic scene. His use of stage directions, dramatic irony, language and imagery has created a build up of tension by revealing Malvolio’s true character, involving the audience in the plot and making them look forward in anticipation to the rest of the play.