In Shakespeare’s play, the twelfth night, one may see Feste as intelligent rather than being foolish. Shakespeare has made it clear to his audience that Feste is much more cunning then the other characters. Feste has always seemed to be the character who see’s much more than everyone else. In the movie, the twelfth night, it seems much more obvious that Feste knows Cesario’s not what he appears to be, however there are several hints in the book that may lead many to believe the same.
In Act III scene one, the conversation between Viola/Cesario and Feste have made many believe that Feste may have been intelligent enough to have discovered her true nature before everyone else. The idea that Feste may be aware of Cesario’s true identity seems much more apparent in the movie than it may in the book. For example, the scene where Feste is singing to Orsino and Viola. It may be hard to pick up on anything irregular in this scene in the book, however in the movie Viola nearly kisses Orsino and only the clown saw this.
This nevertheless should have een more apparent in the book because it is very essential for understanding Act III scene one of the book. In line 38 of Act III scene one (in the book) , Viola tells the Feste she had seen him at the count Orsino’s. Feste then says foolery is everywhere and it is as much with your master (Orsino) as with my mistress (Olivia). He ends his speech by saying, “I think I saw your wisdom there. “(Act III scene one, lines 39- 42). Viola feels threatened by this and she makes it quite clear, she tells him she will not sit around and be the butt of his jokes (Act III scene one, lines .
She would have every reason to feel threatened because, like mentioned above, in the movie Feste clearly saw Viola nearly kissing Orsino during his song. Thus, Viola might have interpreted what Feste had just said (Act III scene one line 42) as in he saw her foolishness there. Having felt threatened by Feste, Viola then goes to hand him a coin, (which could be taken as a bribe for his silence). Yet this could not have made her feel much better since Feste says something that could be taken as either an insult or it could be taken as proof that he knows who she really s.
Feste says; for your next commodity of hair, grow yourself a beard. ( Act III scene one, lines 45- 46). Viola responds to this with what would be considered dramatic irony to the audience, although some may dispute because Feste may also be aware of her identity. She says that she really wants a beard but she would not have one grow on her chin, then she says “Is thy lady within? “(Act III scene one, lines 47-49). Feste then seems to continue with her bribe, he says, would not a pair of these (coins) help? Viola gives him the coins. Yet, Feste continues for ore.
He refers to Lord Pandarus, who was a character in another of Shakespear’s plays who came between a disastrous love affair. This seems to push Viola into giving Feste but yet another coin. However all that has been said so far in this scene is nothing compared to Feste’s last speech. In his last speech, it seems that the tables have turned. Feste realizes that Viola knows he has to much wit for a clown. He seems somewhat threatened by her and he seems to say that he can explain when Viola came, who she is and how she is not what she appears to be. lines 55- 60).
When Feste leaves Viola says that he has shown he’s intelligent yet he should watch whom he tries to play around with because wise men are sometimes too wise for their own good. Therefore, Act III scene one has played an important role in revealing Feste’s acknowledgment of Viola’s true identity. This scene shows a great conversation between the two characters and the threats they bestow on each other. To conclude, Feste may just be a stock character but he plays an important part in this play wether or not he is aware of Viola/Cesario’s true identity.
Shakespeare may have felt that Feste could be used as more than just a comical character. He may have felt it would add flavour to the play if he added a little sub-sub-plot for those who appreciate the additional complexity and for those who have the ability to perceive it . The play allows the audience to question wether or not Feste was aware of Viola’s true identity. Is it possible that this is yet another clever attempt by Shakespeare to improve his plays, or is it just some confusion that has been elaborated over the years with the editing of the play?