Twelfth Night

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Malvolio Character Analysis

The steward in charge of the servants at Olivia's house. A stuck-up killjoy, Malvolio annoys the other members of the household by constantly condescending to and scolding them. In revenge, Maria, Sir Toby, and others play a prank on Malvolio that adds comic relief to Twelfth Night, but also reveals Malvolio's ambition, arrogance, and self-love. The play provides a happy ending for all of the characters except Malvolio, reminding the audience that not all love is fulfilled.

Malvolio Quotes in Twelfth Night

The Twelfth Night quotes below are all either spoken by Malvolio or refer to Malvolio. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Desire and Love Theme Icon
).
Act 1, scene 5 Quotes
He is very well-favored and he speaks very shrewishly; one would think his mother's milk were scarce out of him. (149-151)
Related Characters: Malvolio (speaker), Viola (Cesario)
Act 2, scene 3 Quotes
Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale? (108-109)
Related Characters: Sir Toby (speaker), Malvolio
Act 2, scene 5 Quotes
Now is the woodcock near the gin. (78)
Related Characters: Fabian (speaker), Malvolio
I may command where I adore. (98)
Related Characters: Malvolio (speaker)
Be not afraid of greatness: Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em. (130)
Related Characters: Olivia (speaker), Malvolio (speaker)
Act 3, scene 4 Quotes
Why, this is very midsummer madness. (53)
Related Characters: Olivia (speaker), Malvolio
Go hang yourselves all! You are idle shallow things; I am not of your element. (113)
Related Characters: Malvolio (speaker), Maria, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Feste, Fabian
Act 5, scene 1 Quotes
Why have you suffered me to be imprisoned,
Kept in a dark house, visited by the priest,
And made the most notorious geck and gull
That e'er invention played on? Tell me why. (331-334)
Related Characters: Malvolio (speaker), Olivia
I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you. (384)
Related Characters: Malvolio (speaker), Maria, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Feste, Fabian
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Malvolio Character Timeline in Twelfth Night

The timeline below shows where the character Malvolio appears in Twelfth Night. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 5
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Melancholy Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Olivia enters, wearing mourning clothes and attended by her steward, Malvolio. Olivia first instructs her attendants to send Feste away, but he teases her into better... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Gender and Sexual Identity Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Malvolio returns and informs Olivia that the young man outside will not leave. Olivia asks what... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
...thy face, thy limbs" (1.5.269) —and describes them as a "blazon." Thinking fast, Olivia summons Malvolio and gives him a ring, which, she lies, Cesario left behind on Orsino's behalf. She... (full context)
Act 2, scene 2
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Malvolio catches up with Cesario. He gives Cesario the ring from Olivia and explains that Olivia... (full context)
Act 2, scene 3
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
...when Maria shows up. Maria warns them that if they aren't quiet, Olivia will have Malvolio throw them out of the house. Sir Toby responds that he is Olivia's relative and... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Melancholy Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Malvolio enters and berates the group for treating his "lady's house" like an "ale-house" (2.3.83-4). Sir... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Maria then says she has a great idea for a prank on Malvolio. She boasts that she can imitate Olivia's handwriting perfectly, and will drop in Malvolio's way... (full context)
Act 2, scene 5
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Malvolio enters, talking to himself. As it happens, he already believes that Olivia fancies him. Hiding... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Melancholy Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
...thinking up this prank. Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Maria then rush off to watch Malvolio make a fool of himself. (full context)
Act 3, scene 2
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Maria arrives, and tells Sir Toby and Fabian that Malvolio is doing everything instructed in Maria's letter, and making himself entirely ridiculous in the process.... (full context)
Act 3, scene 4
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Melancholy Theme Icon
Madness Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
...woo Cesario, who has agreed to come back yet again. She asks Maria to bring Malvolio to advise her, as his melancholy mood will better match her own. Maria replies that... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Madness Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Malvolio enters wearing yellow cross-gartered stockings, smiling idiotically. Olivia scolds him for this behavior. However, he... (full context)
Madness Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Maria enters with Sir Toby and Fabian. All three pretend to be worried about Malvolio. Maria implies to Malvolio that he is acting crazily and reminds him that Olivia wanted... (full context)
Act 4, scene 2
Madness Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Back at Olivia's house, Maria and Toby have locked Malvolio in a dark chamber to cure his "madness." Outside the chamber, Maria instructs Feste to... (full context)
Madness Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
"Sir Topas" goes to the door of Malvolio's cell. Malvolio tries desperately to enlist him as an ally; Sir Topas parries his every... (full context)
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Sir Toby, amused, mocks Malvolio's desperate cries. But he confides in Maria that they must find a way out of... (full context)
Madness Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Back in his clown personality, Feste returns to Malvolio's cell. Malvolio begs Feste to bring him a candle, pen, ink, and paper, so that... (full context)
Act 5, scene 1
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Madness Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
...detail—which reminds her that, distracted by her own "frenzy," (5.1.273), she has completely forgotten about Malvolio. At this moment, Feste enters, holding Malvolio's letter. The letter warns Olivia that Malvolio will... (full context)
Melancholy Theme Icon
Deception, Disguise, and Performance Theme Icon
Class, Masters, and Servants Theme Icon
Malvolio enters with Fabian. Fuming, he presents Olivia with Maria's trick letter. After a quick examination,... (full context)