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What is going on in Act 1, Scene V of Twelfth Night between Olivia and Feste?It sort of...

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rosegold | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 24, 2010 at 12:29 AM via web

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What is going on in Act 1, Scene V of Twelfth Night between Olivia and Feste?

It sort of seems like he's almost mocking her or giving her an objective view of herself. I'm having trouble understanding what their conversation is about and what it means. I'm writing a paper on the general characterization of Feste and his function in the play. I'd appreciate help with this section so I can have a better understanding of him overall.

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted March 26, 2010 at 9:16 AM (Answer #1)

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Feste is mocking Olivia, yes.  He has a penchant for sarcasm, although few are aware of it.  Although at times it appears he is speaking nonsense, he is, in fact, making wise observations about the situations he observes.  He is really the wisest, most aware character in the play!

In Scene V, he calls Olivia a fool.  He ends up making a comment about how long she has been in mourning for the death of her brother, which would seem rather heartless, but she has spent entirely too much time being a recluse and the clown knows this.  When Olivia enters the room in this scene:

The Clown is equally offhand with Olivia when she enters. He responds to her with insult, ironically calling her a “fool.” Although she tries to get rid of him, the Clown prevails on her to prove that she is the fool. To that end, he questions her about her mourning her brother’s death.

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