How is Feste characterized in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night?

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As the play's court jester, Feste is characterized as both a witty and wise person. One of Feste's functions is to illustrate the merry, festive themes of Twelfth Night that are associated with the play's title. The play's title refers to the holiday celebrated on the twelfth day after Christmas known as Epiphany. Hence, Feste's name is a derivative of the word festival and his jokes and witticisms are characteristic of the holiday.

However, more importantly, Feste also functions as the play's wise observer, and as a wise observer, he also illustrates the theme of foolish human nature. Literary critics have noted that because Feste does not get involved in any of the play's conflicts, he is able to remain the play's objective observer (eNotes, "Feste the Clown (Character Analysis"). One of the things he observes is the foolishness of the other characters. For example, he notes that Olivia is foolish for wasting her youth and beauty by prolonging her mourning over her brother, especially when she...

(The entire section contains 600 words.)

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