One major character in Twelfth Night is Malvolio. He is the servant to the very wealthy Olivia. Malvolio also has a deep love for Olivio. He has a very serious temperament. When talking about Feste, the jester, Malvolio says: “I marvel your ladyship takes delight in such a barren rascal” (Shakespeare 36). What Malvolio is basically saying is that he cannot believe Olivia enjoys being around Feste, because he is annoying and not funny. This quote really shows Malvolio’s seriousness because he cannot stand humorous people. Malvolio also says: “I protest I take these wise men that crow so at these set kind of fools no better than the fools’ zanies” (Shakespeare 38). This also goes to show that he does not find jesters even slightly funny.
Malvolio is also very gullible. Maria hatches a plan to get back at Malvolio. She is assisted by Sir Andrew and Sir Toby Belch. Maria wrote a love letter that appeared to be from Olivia. Once Malvolio saw it on the ground, he took the bait and opened the letter. Malvolio believed the letter to be addressed to him. Once he realizes this, he says: “Daylight and champaign discovers not more. This is open” (Shakespeare 112). What Malvolio means by this is that the letter is very obvious that it is to him, written by Olivia. He completely accepts that this letter is legitimate and was dropped on accident. The fact that he believes this, considering that Olivia does not show a hint of romantic love to Malvolio proves his gullibility.
Malvolio is a key character. He sets the sub-plot in motion by accepting the validity of the fake love letter. Without him, Shakespeare would not have had as funny a comedy as he does. Malvolio is just another player in the awkward love polygon that Shakespeare created: what makes the play a comedy.