Throughout the play the character of Feste displays a variety of comedic strategies to entertain the audience: his construction of dramatic irony and quick wit means he is able to exploit the comedic potential of even serious situations. The character’s dialogue can offer serious criticism at times within the comedy. Feste contributes vast amounts to the comedy of twelfth night as not only is he a comedic character but also an omniscient narrator and is able to use this to his benefits for when he seems to have the upper hand on characters which develops the comedy for the audience.
Feste is first introduced as an intriguing character which engages the audience from the beginning; when he is first introduced you aren’t informed of where he has been, it gives an element of mystery and secrecy for the audience about him already. He is able to show depth to his character since he has a poignant religious moment where he talks about Olivia’s brother “The more fool, Madonna, to mourn for your brother’s soul being in heaven. Take away the fool gentleman”, in this line he turns around Olivia’s joke on herself, as she calls Feste a fool but in fact is more serious and proves that Olivia is the fool for mourning her brother’s death when she knows he is in heaven. This moment however also has an element of comedy because he proves that Olivia is the fool not him, it upstages the social order as obviously Olivia is far above him on the social ranking of the play, so this would have been funny to the Shakespearean audience. He does this also with Sir Aguecheek as he is clearly shown as being quite dim throughout the play which is comedy on its own for example when Shakespeare uses made up nonsense words in Sir Aguecheek’s dialogue “Pigrogromitus, of the Vapians passing the equinoctial of Queubus” which represents his character well. However Feste develops the comedy of this by talking to him with such language and words that he knows the character will not understand this is funny to the audience as it is comedic to see Sir Aguecheek being made a mockery of “I did impeticos thy gratillity”. It is able to show that the social class of a person doesn’t mean that one is more intelligent than the other it is just the autocracy that you are born into more than anything; again referring to how not only is he in the play for comedic values but also to develop the story in its own and offer a deeper meaning.
Feste is often pointing out the fool in other people rather than himself, he does this again in Act 2 Scene 3 in pointing out the fool in Sir Aguecheek once again and also Sir Toby, “How now, my hearts? Did you ever see the picture of ‘We Three’?”. In this he is referring to the pub sign of Shakespeare’s favourite pub which had two fools on the sign suggesting that the third fool was the person looking at the sign, he is pointing out that Sir Toby and Sir Aguecheek are the fools on the sign.
Feste is repeatedly suspicious of Cesario’s character throughout Twelfth Night which creates dramatic irony for the audience as it suggests “he” is a woman but not fully even know the audience know this insinuation to be true. This can create the suspense element in comedy for the audience as they aren’t sure whether Feste will find out whether Viola is Cesario. Although Feste is often the ‘all-knowing’ character he is baffled by his meeting with Cesario compared to his meeting with Sebastian; the start of Act 4 scene 1 is an example of mistaken identity when he meets Sebastian “nor your name is not Master Cesario….Nothing that is so is so” as he thinks Sebastian is Cesario (Viola) this would be funny to the audience to see that a usually intelligent character has been deceived just as everyone else has especially as the audience knows exactly what is going on!
Feste’s songs in Twelfth Night are not always comedic as, they play a more serious role in the development…