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Shakespeare’s use of the name ‘Topas’ is important, as the semi-precious stone topas was renowned for its ability to cure madness.Members of Shakespeare’s audience may have known this, and would find it humorous related to the fact that Malvolio was said to be mad.Feste disguises himself in order to fool Malvolio, using the comical elements of literal disguise.
Feste, despite the act that he puts on, is obviously not a fool.
Others who are not what they appear to be include Olivia who is not as sincere in her mourning as she would seem, and Sir Toby and Sir Andrew who are certainly not as staid and responsible as their elevated rank might indicate.
It is too hard a knot for me t’untie” Here Shakespeare’s rhyming couplet concludes a particular thought, and indeed the scene.
The metaphor, comparing deception to a knot, is very effective as a knot contains different strands which, having become entangled and intertwined; will be very hard to undo. Sir Toby lies to Sir Andrew at various points in the play.
If it is true then the entire friendship of these two characters is based on a deception.
This is a serious issue, which contrasts with the comic theme of the play.As might be expected, the deceptions fall into different types of deception, and also many different levels.These can be described as levels of importance- some involving whole plots and some only a few minor events- and levels of how obvious each deception is. This can be divided into literal disguise, in the form of characters altering their appearance, and the faï¿½ade which characters present to the world in order to seem different to how they really are.Many characters in the play disguise their true emotions, personality and ‘identity’ without physically wearing a disguise. He is perceived to be a ‘fool’, which is actually his occupation.Nonetheless throughout the play he shows his intelligence in the comments he makes and his insights.There are also hints given that Sir Toby only wants Sir Andrew around for his money; he says, “I have been dear to him, lad, some two thousand strong or so”.This is one of the deepest levels of deception in the play.One example of this deception of Sir Andrew is found when Sir Toby and Fabian amuse themselves by carrying lies between Sir Andrew and ‘Cesario’ at the occasion of their ‘duel’: Sir Toby: “Fabian can scarce hold him yonder”…Sir Andrew: “Let him let the matter slip and I’ll give him my horse”…Shakespeare clearly intends this comical aspect with Feste as; living up to the role of ‘licensed fool’, all that he says is designed to be amusing: Malvolio: “…good Sir Topas, go to my lady-” Feste: “Out, hyperbolical fiend…talkest thou of nothing but ladies?” Feste is completely aware of what Malvolio means at this point and throughout the scene, but Shakespeare chooses for him to deliberately misunderstand, resulting in a wonderful comedic situation for the audience.