Characterization in Twelfth Night is done in such a way that characters are either low-life or high-life in society. Most of the minor characters are low-life.
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Sir Toby & Sir Andrew
Sir Toby and Sir Andrew, despite their titles, are not high-ranking characters. Both of them make the play a festive comedy because their sole aim is to take part in “masques and revels”, talk with women and “drink nightly.”
Both characters are hopeless when it comes to their self-knowledge. They don’t even know whether they are competent or not because of the way they challenge those who exceed in terms of capacity.
Maria says about one of them that “besides that, he’s a fool, he’s a great quarreller; and but that he hath the gift of a coward to allay the gust he hath in quarreling, ’tis thought among the prudent he would quickly have the gift of a grave.”
Sir Toby’s wit and bravery are comparatively greater than Sir Andrew. Both of them represent the rejection against discipline imposed by the authority when they take revenge against Malvolio.
The character of Feste is more complex than it looks. Although he is an opportunist his wisdom is acknowledged by those who meet him. He earns his living by making others laugh and he takes this opportunity to comment on others freely because they cannot be criticized otherwise due to their social rank.
He is not a clown outright; he is an employed fool who has a sharp intelligence to analyze others around him. Malvolio as a puritan considers him “a barren rascal.” Feste is also a singer.
Many times, in the play, Feste’s song offers us a background against which the actions of the play look like a parody. Feste has great psychological depth. Throughout the play, he remains detached and professional and that is his wisdom.
Maria’s position in the play is as a maid to Olivia but she is much more than that, she is a gentlewoman. She is pretty because other minor characters comment on her beauty.
She has a strong self-belief which we come to know when she says regarding the revenge against Malvolio that “let me alone with him. I do not make him a common recreation, do not think I have wit enough to lie straight in my bed.” In the end, she marries Sir Toby. Those with whom she works trust her and are affectionate towards her.
Antonio is introduced in the play along with Sebastian. His affection and dedication for Sebastian may tell us about Sebastian as a person but we also come to know Antonio’s selfless loveliness as a human being.
He has cases against him as a pirate as he is considered as an enemy by Orsino the duke. Yet he chooses to remain beside Sebastian in the town Illyria because it is new and dangerous for him. He proves loyalty until the end. He fights on his behalf and it proves the integrity of his character.