Why does Twelfth Night end on a sour note?


Twelfth Night

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Twelfth Night end on a somewhat sour note. The final epilogue to the play is a song by the mean clown Feste who relates his life as a wastrel, unable to find a wife and reduced to sleeping with drunken tosspots. In Feste's final ditty, life is depicted as grim, "for the rain it raineth every day" (V, i., l.392). Along with the "problem of Malvolio" (see FAQ #3), there are some other disturbing aspects to Twelfth Night. There are, for example, numerous references to madness and insanity, and we are given a look at the treatment afforded to "lunatics" by society when Malvolio is locked up. Twelfth Night is a comedy, but it anticipates Shakespeare's problem plays and appears to demonstrate the limits of a comic conception of life through its insertion of discordance.

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