A pun is a play on words which reveals a clever and often humorous double meaning for a word or the sound of a word. Puns are widely used in literature but in the twenty-first century they are sometimes cliche and so they do not always achieve their desired result. In order to benefit from a pun, the response needs to be spontaneous; otherwise the joke is often lost when the implied meaning is not shared.
Shakespeare uses puns generously in his works and in Twelfth Night, Feste the Fool or clown is an intelligent and astute man, a keen observer and well-placed to recognize weakness in others. In Act I, scene v he quips "Better a witty fool than a foolish wit" (33) having just bantered with Maria over the benefits of being hanged and therefore avoiding "a bad marriage" (18). He says "I am resolved on two points" (21) and Maria shares this pun when she comments on the "points" used to hold up his trousers.
When Olivia instructs "Take the fool away" (35), Feste immediately...
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