Sirs Aguecnheek And Belch Essay, Research Paper
Observations & Lessons learned, by an alcoholic, through characters, Shakespeare introduced in his Twelfth Night: Sir Andrew Aguecheek, conspirator, or innocent bystander? Sir Toby Belch, is he a cunning freeloader, or a drunken clown? Moreover, who, metaphorically speaking, will drown in the end?
N.B., Olivia questions Feste the fool [actually a professional witty fool]: ?What?s a drunken man like, fool?? Feste replies: ?Like a drowned man, a fool, and a madman. One drink too many makes him foolish; the second makes him mad [crazy]; and the third drowns him? She and Feste were discussing her cousin, Sir Toby ?wondering if he should require detoxification?(1.5.95-97) following a display of drunkenness in her chambers.
One reading Twelfth Night for the first time might believe the clowns Feste and Fabian are at the heart of humor: not so, they are actually bystanders, or assistants to who I feel are the antagonists, Sir Toby and the chambermaid Maria; yet, Sir Toby and his cohort Sir Andrew are at the core of humor throughout the play. Sir Andrew however, is by no means an antagonist; besides, he is simply too dim-witted to antagonize anyone, and to his credit somewhat admits his flaws (2.3.79-80). He is like a child, or pawn; always subservient to Sir Toby, who takes full advantage of his childlike qualities. In Fabian?s words ?He?s your dear little puppet, Sir Toby? (3.2.46). Following this line a perplexing issue arises; Sir Toby?s reply to Fabian ?I?ve been dear to him, about two thousand pounds? (3.2.47). Implying that he has given, or loaned Sir Andrew money, yet throughout the text one is led to believe that Sir Toby is cleverly sponging from Sir Andrew, e.g. Toby to Andrew ?Thou hadst need send for more money?Send for more money knight,? (2.1.176-81) Is the cunning Sir Toby lying to Fabian?
Sir Toby has been the focus of this writer?s attention during the introduction to Shakespeare?s work. One will learn from his character that Sir Toby?s chicanery and eccentric behavior are brought about by his addiction to alcohol.
Epigram by: Thomas Love PeacockO? not drunk is he who from the floor, can rise alone, and still drink more.
But drunk is he, who prostrate lies, without the power to drink or rise.
Feste, and Maria allude to Sir Toby?s addiction in the following statements, ?If Sir Toby would quit drinking you?d [Maria] be as witty a young wench as any in Illyria? (1.5.23-25). Rarely is he without a bottle, or the chambermaid Maria who caters to his whims with matrimony in mind. Then Maria says to Sir Toby, ?You must come home earlier at night?confine yourself to what?s reasonable proper? this tippling and drinking will be the ruin of you? (1.3. 5-15). (These comments will prove to be prophetic as the play continues.)
The best example of Sir Toby?s chicanery is his and Maria?s gulling of Malvolio. After Malvolio?s foolish display (3.4.15-57) in front of Olivia, and her leaving to greet Viola/Sebastian, the conspirators could have called their prank off. Instead, Toby chose to continue by telling Maria and Fabian the following: ?Come we?ll have him in a dark room and bound?We may carry it thus for our pleasure and his penance till our very pastime, tired out of breath, prompt us to have mercy on him? (3.4.134-37). Earlier in the same scene, Olivia says to Maria: ?Where?s Malvolio? He is sad and civil, [but he] suits well for a servant with my fortunes? (3.4.5-6). Olivia, speaking again states: ?I would not have him miscarry for half my dowry? (3.4.61-62). It is perfectly clear that Olivia values Malvolio?s contribution to her estate, and anyone trying to destroy him will likely suffer her wrath. Sir Toby was clearly at the heart of this chicanery.
The chaos continues when being spurned by Olivia, Sir Andrew throws a temper tantrum, and threatens to leave. Sir Toby however, ignoring the fact that Andrew is a coward, e.g., ?if you opened him and found enough blood to clog the foot of a flea, I?ll eat the rest of him? (3.2.50-55), convinces him a duel is in order; valor will win the hand of Olivia. He is then sent off to write a challenge addressed to Viola/Cesario who he believes, and rightly so, has captured Olivia?s heart. In the mean time, while Andrew is off composing his note filled with ?Pepper and vinegar? (3.4.137), the pranksters are watching Malvolio become the paragon of asses. The zenith of their practical joke is reached when, due to his convoluted madness, Malvolio is locked away in darkness to be pestered at will (mentioned earlier) by conspirators: Sir Toby, Maria, Feste, and Fabian.
Sir Andrew returns with his note and the conspirators gather round to review it, Fabian stating: ?more [fodder] for merrymaking? (3.4.134). As Sir Andrew is sent to the garden Sir Toby destroys the note, telling Fabian ?Now I won?t deliver this letter, [?] the behavior of the young gentleman suggests that he can look after himself [?] this letter, being a masterpiece of ignorance, will generate no terror in the youth. [?] He?ll know it comes from a blockhead? (3.4.168-174).
Sir Toby heads off Viola/Cesario and delivers Sir Andrews challenge in person; whereupon, Viola insists she has not brought harm to anyone, unless by some oversight. Sir Toby warns Viola to be prepared, this knight is known for his prowess, and escorts her to the garden; where Sir Andrew is waiting in trepidation at the thought of a duel. In fact, Sir Andrew offers his horse ?gray Capilet? (3.4.278) to call the duel off; however, Sir Toby will have none of that, for it would spoil the merrymaking.
The duel eventually concludes with no harm done to the participants; doubtless, Sir Andrews?s cowardice is revealed, which does not seem to faze him, one way, or the other. Following the duel, Sir Toby slips away from the garden along with Maria. Their destination is the coal shed to taunt the hapless Malvolio; however, after witnessing Feste?s brilliant display of cruelty ? pretending to be the curate, they realize that their prank has been carried a bit too far. The tables begin to turn against Sir Toby, and Maria, when they return to meet the real Sebastian. The furious Sebastian (who has already encountered Sir Andrew) swiftly throws Sir Toby to the ground; Sir Toby handed a sword as he gets to his feet begins trading blows with Sebastian. Olivia witnesses the brawl and quickly breaks it up telling Sir Toby that, ?he belongs in a cave, and that she will no longer tolerate his misbehavior?(4.2.46-48). Toby then shuffles off with his tail between his legs to lick his wounds and plan his departure with Maria, knowing he has worn out his welcome.
Following their return, Sir Toby?s true character is revealed to all by the nasty scene of him berating Sir Andrew in the evilest of terms calling poor Andrew,
?an ass head, a thin- faced knave, a coxcomb [simpleton], and gull [someone easily deceived]?(5.1.203-4). This particular outburst even Sir Andrew has no trouble comprehending. He and all in attendance, indeed realize Sir Toby is no friend, and that Sir Andrew has been taken for a (natural fool). This scene is where Olivia is touchingly sweet to poor Sir Andrew; those who witness his humiliation feel a deep sadness for him.
Sir Andrew drew my attention early on; there is no question that he was a simple man lacking the courage to harm a fly. I must admit however, my view is skewed by the fact that I not only read the text; I also watched the film. In the film, there was a particularly poignant moment where Sir Andrew responded to Sir Toby, ??I, I was adored once too? (2.4.181). Elizabeth Brunner, in her essay titled: Sir Andrew in Our Bosom: Memories of Adoration, mentions the same scene so eloquently, ?these words trigger fears that our own prime has [?] faded, that love-worthy self lingers decades back, and that our accomplishments fail to meet our once foreseen promise.? 
In the context of my thesis, and the use of character analysis to base it upon, my conclusion is, (metaphorically of course) Sir Toby ? drowns himself. For all his puffed up swaggering, it became apparent that he was a shallow, weak man, using lies, and wine, as a crutch to approach life. Sir Andrew on the other hand, simply happened to be in the vicinity when the plot against Malvolio was hatched. He was also clearly set up to woo Olivia by Sir Toby, possibly, in the hopes that he (Sir Toby) could manipulate her estate.
Lessons learned: I have probably learned more about reading and writing in the past few weeks than I have my entire life. I never dreamed I could be so challenged by a sixteenth century poet and playwright. I have learned that in a play one must constantly reassess what characters are doing, and saying; also, their expressions, body language, when they come in, when they leave, are they being honest. For example, Sir Toby telling Maria that Sir Andrew knew four languages by heart, yet it became clear he did not have a clue what ?accost? meant (1.2.46-56), or the Catholic term ?incardinate? (5.1.180). One must pay careful attention to Shakespeare?s work, for their powers of judgment are challenged by every turn of phrase. Some of his messages are subtle between the line metaphors; yet, some are clear ? like a dagger to the heart. This writer is particularly enthralled by the way he can describe: the characters actions, put words in their mouths, give them a unique personality, and at the same time express their flaws, and deepest feelings, or should I say, give them ? a heart and soul ? with so few words.
Shakespeare?s ingenious use of dramatic irony?, and his way of enlightening human nature has brought our world a brilliant, topsy-turvy, romantic comedy, although at times a dark one, with his Twelfth Night: I might add, my introduction to Shakespeare was clearly enhanced by having the ability to view the film. By attaching faces and voices to the characters, this experience has been a true delight. Thanks, Professor!
Closing CommentUnbeknownst to most people, those brought down (drowned) by alcohol, do not take a dim view, nor are they intemperate, of those who have the ability to control alcohol. Nor does their sense of humor diminish with sobriety; to the contrary, their senses have recovered, and they relate with accuracy events being played out before them; why, because many have, as they say, been there ? done that. In fact, recovering people are a suspicious lot, they question; why not, indulge in the pleasure of drinking alcohol; provided of course, it is done with moderation, and no harm is done to others?
If they could ? they would…
Works Cited and Definition1.) http://.members.tripod.com/~ElizBrunner/scholar/twelfthnightandrew.html2.) Irony
i?ro?ny [rənee] (plural i?ro?nies) noun
1.humor based on opposites: a type of humor based on using words to suggest the opposite of their literal meaning
2.something humorous based on contradiction: something said or written that uses sardonic humor
3.incongruity: incongruity between what actually happens and what might be expected to happen, especially when this disparity seems absurd or laughable
4.incongruous thing: something that happens that is incongruous with what might be expected to happen, especially when this seems absurd or laughable
5.See dramatic irony
6.See Socratic irony
[Early 16th century. Via Latin ironia, from Greek eirōneia, ?pretended ignorance,? formed from eirōn, ?dissembler,? of uncertain origin: perhaps formed from eirein, ?to say.?]
Encarta? World English Dictionary ? & (P) 1999,2000 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.