What is the role of Feste in Twelfth Night?

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Many of Shakespeare's plays have a fool or jester as a character.  This play is one of them and Feste is the character who playst that role.

Feste's role seems to have two parts.  First, he is a clown -- one who keeps things funny.  You can see from his name that part of his job is to do this.  His name is connected to "festival" and shows that he is supposed to cause there to be fun and celebration.

But he is also supposed to play a role as a wise man, and some say he is the wisest person in the play.  His jokes often have a real point to them and they help people to see things more clearly.

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What is Feste's purpose in the play Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare?

One role of Feste's is as a stock character. Stock characters were types of characters that Shakespeare used repeatedly throughout his plays, such as parents, clever servants, and of course the clown or the fool. But Feste has a much more significant role than just being the play's fool. For one thing, Twelfth Night was written in honor of the Epiphany celebration held on the twelfth day of December, which marked the arrival of The Magi, or the Three Wise men, who came bearing gifts for baby Jesus. Epiphany was a very wild and festive celebration that involved heavy drinking, revelry, masquerades, and general bawdy foolishness. Feste, whose name contains the root word of festival, embodies the festivities of an Epiphany celebration, particularly, his jokes and singing embody the Epiphany celebration. He sings throughout the play, plus in Act 2, Scene 3, joins in on the loud drinking party both Sirs Toby and Andrew are having by singing them a song, plus joining in on their round-songs.

But Feste is even far more than just an embodiment of festivities. While he participates in the play's merrymaking to some extent, he also remains an observant outsider. In fact, his most important role is as commentator on the other characters' foolish behavior and about the nature of life in general. Feste's role as commentator also more importantly identifies one of the play's most central themes concerning the foolishness of human nature. We see Feste comment on the foolishness of human nature when he calls Olivia's obsessive mourning over her brother foolish. We also see Feste comment on Duke Orsino's obsessive love for Olivia and very keenly observe the truth about Orsino, that he is actually rather fickle and his love for Olivia is insincere. Finally, at the end of the play, we see Feste comment on the hardships of life and how foolishness is linked to those hardships, as we see in his lines:

When that I was and a little tiny boy,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day. (V.i.401-04)

Hence, we see that Feste's most central role and purpose is to illustrate the theme of mankind's foolishness.

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In Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, how is Feste significant in the main plot?

In Shakespeare's Twelfth Night , Feste...

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is the fool in Countess Olivia's household. He has served the house for years, entertaining Olivia's father until his death, but Olivia criticizes him over his frequent absence; however, he continues to spend the play entering and exiting the action seemingly at random. His primary job is to entertain, and he does so with songs, dances, wordplay, and mockery of the people around him. Feste's role as a character is primarily pointing out the flaws and absurdities in the behavior of the other characters in the play. For example, he mocks Olivia for her self-indulgent mourning, and points out the excessive moodiness of Duke Orsino's behavior. Feste's presence in the play seems almost omniscient, as he seems to know more about the characters than the audience does and appears in the midst of important actions or conversations frequently. His role in the play is to inform the audience about the characters, make moral judgements about their behavior, and mock the absurdity of their actions. He exists outside of the society presented in the play, which puts him in the position of judging and mocking the inner workings of that society.

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What is Feste's function in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night?

Feste has a couple of different roles in the play. One role is represented by his name, which can be seen as a derivative for the word festival. Shakespeare wrote the play Twelfth Night for an Epiphany celebration, and the entire play is essentially a festival. The holiday known as Epiphany fell on the twelfth day after Christmas and marked the arrival of the Three Wise Men who came bearing gifts to baby Jesus. While one might expect an Epiphany celebration to be similar to the rest of Christmas festivities, in Elizabethan times, the holiday was known to be "absolutely secular and even quite bawdy"; it was also a "time of masques, revels, defiance of authority, and general foolishness," all of which are details mirrored in the actions and themes in the play ("Shakespeare's Twelfth Night"). Hence, as a court jester, one of Feste's roles is to represent the merriment and foolery characteristic of the holiday.However, he also serves an even greater function. Even though through his fooling he participates in the play's festivities, he actually also remains outside of the play's society with the purpose of serving as a moral judge (eNotes, Twelfth Night Essays: "Feste and Fabian: Plots and Complots"). One element that characterizes him as standing outside of the play's society is that we learn in the very beginning of the fifth scene that he is an itinerant court jester, meaning that he does not really belong to one household but rather travels about from household to household within a certain court. We know he is an itinerant fool because when we first meet him, Maria scolds him for his absence, saying, "My lady will hang thee for thy absence" (I.v.3). In addition, we also learn that he not only associates with Olivia's house but often goes to Duke Orsino's house as well, showing us that he does not really belong to one specific household as a servant, and since he does not belong to a specific household, it shows us that he is also not a part of the play's society, but rather remains outside of it.Remaining outside of the play's society is central to his characterization because it also puts him in a position to be the play's moral judge. We also see him playing the role of moral judge in this very first scene in which we meet him when we see him assert that Olivia is the true fool rather than himself. When Olivia commands, "Take the fool away!," Feste turns the tables and declares that Olivia should be taken away because she is the real fool for allowing herself to mourn so excessively over a brother's soul who is in heaven, as we see in his lines, "The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your brother's soul being in heaven. Take away the fool, gentleman" (I.v.33, 64-65). Feste also very wisely notes the insincerity of Duke Orsino's proclaimed love for Olivia and calls him fickle by asserting that his mind is a "very opal," meaning a gemstone that changes color easily (II.iv.80).

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