Twelfth Night Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What function does Maria serve in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night?

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Maria serves the function of uniting the foolery in the play with the more sensible thoughts and actions. She also has a very important role in driving the plot forward.

Maria walks an interesting line between the play's bawdy characters, like Sirs Toby and Andrew, and the more rational characters, like Feste, and the line she walks serves to unite the two worlds. Since the play was written for an Epiphany, or Twelfth Night, celebration and spoofs the type of behavior characteristic of the holiday, Sirs Toby and Andrew are perfect examples of such bawdy, reckless, and lawless behavior you would find on that night. Sir Toby is a drunkard, while Sir Andrew is described as a wasteful, idiotic coward. More importantly, Maria is seen reprimanding their behavior . In the beginning of the third scene, she scolds Sir Toby for his drunken...

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seemachoudhary | Student

Sir toby is olivias uncle who lives with her but she disapproves her behaviour and jokes and is tired off his habit to find a match of his own choice for Oli via.maria is a witty waiying woman of Oliviawheras Sir andrew agucheek is friend of uncle tobyand.wants to woo Olivia at any cost.Feste is a clown,a jester whose sole purpose is to provide entertainment.

sarahchocoholic | Student

Sir Toby is Olivia’s uncle. Olivia lets Sir Toby live with her, but she does not approve of his rowdy behavior, practical jokes, heavy drinking, late-night carousing, or friends (specifically the idiotic Sir Andrew). Sir Toby also earns the ire of Malvolio. But Sir Toby has an ally, and eventually a mate, in Olivia’s sharp-witted waiting-gentlewoman, Maria. Together they bring about the triumph of chaotic spirit, which Sir Toby embodies, and the ruin of the controlling, self-righteous Malvolio.

Sir Andrew is a friend of Sir Toby’s. He attempts to court Olivia, but he doesn’t stand a chance. He thinks that he is witty, brave, young, and good at languages and dancing, but he is actually an idiot.

Maria is Olivia’s clever, daring young waiting-gentlewoman. Maria is remarkably similar to her antagonist, Malvolio, who harbors aspirations of rising in the world through marriage. But Maria succeeds where Malvolio fails—perhaps because she is a woman, but, more likely, because she is more in tune than Malvolio with the anarchic, topsy-turvy spirit that animates the play.

As the clown, or fool, of Olivia’s household, Feste moves between Olivia’s and Orsino’s homes. He earns his living by making pointed jokes, singing old songs, being generally witty, and offering good advice cloaked under a layer of foolishness. In spite of being a professional fool, Feste often seems the wisest character in the play.