How is Maria from the Twelfth Night a stock character? In your answer, be sure to define stock character.
A stock character can be considered a stereotype, and in drama, a playwright employs stock characters to further the complications of the story. Stock characters are used especially often in Comedies, as it is the recognizably stereotypical human foibles that make for good comic characters and situations -- foibles like craftiness, dimwittedness, miserliness, and being crazy-in-love or a braggart.
Maria is an embodiment of the "crafty servant" stock character. This character was found in Comedies of ancient Rome, but more contemporaneously to Shakespeare, the Commedia dell' Arte of Italy. This comic and improvisational theatre form allowed both male and female performers onstage and might have been a very strong influence on Shakespeare's theatrical sensibilities. The comic servant from Commedia who can be associated with Maria is Colombina, the crafty servant of the female lead of a play, a servant who also often had a love interest.
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