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What are some puns that Feste uses in Twelfth Night?

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ejayy23 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 12, 2011 at 9:08 AM via web

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What are some puns that Feste uses in Twelfth Night?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 12, 2011 at 9:20 PM (Answer #1)

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Feste is a character that is famed for his use of puns in this excellent comedy. He, as befitting his role of fool, shows himself to be an excellent punner and displays a verbal dexterity that proves his supremacy in this area. Note how even from his first introduction in the play in Act I scene 5, he quickly evinces this ability. When Maria tells him he will be hanged for his absence, note how Feste replies:

Let her hang me. He that is well hanged in this world needs to fear no colours.

Here, colours is punned with an alternative meaning to this word, which is worldly deceptions, but it is also punned with collars, which refers to halters or nooses. This is something we see Feste engaging in throughout the play. Note how in Act III scene 1 when he is with Viola he willfully misinterprets her question, and when she asks Feste whether he "lives by" his musical talent, he responds by saying that he "lives by the church." Such verbal quickness is one of the reasons why Feste is such a memorable and funny character in this comedy.

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