'The Truth About Foolishness' in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

Essay by JafroCollege, UndergraduateA+, February 1997

download word file, 4 pages 4.2

Downloaded 136 times

'The Truth About Foolishness' in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

William Shakespeare used a unique device to explain how foolishness is an unavoidable part of

everyday life. He employed many specific examples of foolishness in his comedy play titled

Twelfth Night. Each of the characters he created were all foolish in one way or another. Not

only do the characters entertain the audience, but also educate the audience as they portray

mankind avoiding obvious truth.

Shakespeare takes a humorous approach to expose the ways we fall prey to pride, vanity

and self-deception. As the story unfolds, the characters discover their faults before they can do

any real harm to themselves or anyone else. Fortunately, only embarrassment or humiliation are

the result. Combinations of comedy, personality and irony are all qualities each character reveals

to exhibit the many types of fools we can all be.

The most common type of fool in society is usually the simpleton, or a 'natural' fool.


Andrew Aguecheek is an excellent example. Although Sir Andrew is funny, it is not intentional.

His faults include a lack of wit, a tendency to be easily amused, and the opportunity to be

manipulated by others to be accepted. His foolishness is revealed innocently, as he considers

himself a gentleman.

His attempts to flirt with Maria by showing how clever he is fail when Sir Toby advises him to

accost, in other words, to woo her. Sir Andrew thinks 'accost' is her name as he addresses her,

'Good Mistress Mary Accost-' (I, III, 54). After his embarrassing introduction to Maria, Sir

Andrew tries to salvage his dignity by laughing at himself as he says, 'Methinks sometimes I have

no more wit than a Christian or an ordinary man has. But I am a great eater of beef, and I...