Olivia is the daughter of a very rich and powerful man. She is very intelligent, witty and refined. The Duke Orsino is madly in love with Olivia but, unfortunately for Orsino, Olivia is mourning her dead brother and swears to herself that she well continue this mourning for seven years and will have no relation until that time is up. Malvolio, as stated above, is the steward to Olivia. It’s his job to make sure that everyone in the house of Olivia is fulfilling their required duty and, in Malvolio’s mind, to keep them from having fun!
All the employees who are under Malvolio’s keep all think that he is arrogant, conceited and patronising, some have gone as far as to say that he is a puritan “The devil the puritan that he is”. Malvolio thinks he is perfect in everyway and fails to see his own faults but takes delight in finding faults in others. He has a particular grudge against the family fool Feste. Feste was employed by Olivia’s father along time back and has been entertaining the family ever since.
He is known to take unexpected trips for long periods of time and this annoys Olivia to the utmost extreme. He has just returned from a long, but for him, an enjoyable trip. When he steps through the court gates he is greeted by a very frustrated Olivia accompanied by a rather malicious Malvolio, who is hoping that the fool will be ejected from the household. Olivia confronts Feste and commands his removal. Feste uses his wit and gets back int...
o Olivia’s good books.
Olivia asks Malvolio for his thoughts on the fool “I marvel your ladyship takes delight in such a barren rascal” “unless you laugh and minister occasion to him, he is gagged” Olivia thinks this to be a bit harsh and replies “O, you are sick of self-love, Malvolio, and taste with a distempered appetite” I think this response takes Malvolio by surprise and he is unsure how to reply to such a statement. This also annoys Malvolio, but he is more annoyed with himself than Olivia seeing as he has feelings for his employer and is always trying to be the best he can for her. He thinks he has a real chance with Olivia despite his age and her mourning.
When Viola (disguised as Cesario) arrives at the gates of Olivia’s house, Malvolio is sent to deal with him “Go you, Malvolio. If it be a suit from the count, I am sick, or not at home – what you will to dismiss it” When he returns Malvolio gives a report of the young man at the gate “Not yet old enough for a man, nor young enough for a boy”. From what Malvolio says about Cesario, there is the impression that he finds the messenger rude and stubborn due to his unwillingness to go until he has spoke with Olivia “he says he’ll stand at your door like a sheriff’s post, and be the supporter of a bench, but he’ll speak with you”
It seems that, although the messenger is allowed through, Malvolio is determined to
keep Cesario away from Olivia because he thinks that it is quite possible for the Lady Olivia to fall for this suit of the Count. Malvolio is slightly jealous of Feste due to the relationship he has with Olivia and he will jump at the first chance to get him removed from Olivia’s household. In the middle of the night Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Feste decide to have a little get together but, as usual, after a large consumption of alcohol they became very load and rowdy!
So much so that Maria comes down to see what all the noise is about “What caterwauling do you keep here! ” She’s tries very hard to keep them calm and to lower the noise level but to no avail. She knows that sooner or later there extremely audible manner will awaken the lady Olivia or Malvolio. After a while Malvolio heads for the source of the noise, already knowing what the creator of it is. He enters the room and says “My masters, are you mad? Or what have you?
Have you no wit, manners, nor honesty, but to gabble like tinkers at this time of night” Malvolio does not approve of this type of behaviour, especially at this hour and will do everything within his power to stop this ludicrous bunch which have, in his mind, turned his lady’s house into an ale house. He addresses Sir Toby in a threatening tone “Sir Toby, I must b round with you. ” It seems like he chooses the word round on purpose as in insult to Sir Toby’s physical appearance.
Malvolio goes on to say that Olivia has told him that if Sir Toby does not amend his drunken ways then she is willing to remove him from her estate. “She is very willing to bid you farewell” Sir Toby does not believe that his cousin would confide such a thing within a contemptuous steward such as Malvolio. Sir Toby’ reacts to this by taunting Malvolio (with Feste) by dancing round him and singing, but after a few verses Sir Toby stops abruptly and confronts Malvolio and says to him that he is no more than a steward and that he has no authority over the Knights.
Art thou any more than a steward? ” Sir Toby backs off and asks the servant Maria for a glass of wine, she starts towards the wine only to be interrupted by Malvolio who says that if Maria respected Olivia’s house and the Lady herself she would not encourage these knights into their drunken states “If you prized my lady’s favour at any thing more than contempt, you would not give means for this uncivil rule”
Maria decides she has had enough of Malvolio and his puritanical attitude. She comes up with a ploy that will publicly humiliate Malvolio. She will plant a forged letter in the path of Malvolio that will declare Olivia’s love for him and tell him how to act around her and other members of the household. Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Fabian (who also has a grudge against the steward) lay in wait for