13 February 2013
In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the reader is introduced to a character named Sir Toby who seems to only drink and sing as well as causing problems to or with other characters. Though this seems like a minor role, Sir Toby helps drive the plot by helping the love triangle between Olivia, Orsino and Viola move forward.
From reading Twelfth Night, one learns that Sir Toby is a very merry person who enjoys drinking and singing, as well as being free-spirited. This is one of the major reasons why I chose Sir Toby because he is a man who takes the time to stop and smell the flowers and enjoy life. The other characters in the novel are more focused on trying to win over their true love. Though Sir Toby enjoys life to its fullest, he is an alcoholic. It is to the point that Sir Toby makes ridiculous arguments to stay up drinking, “To be up after midnight, and to go to bed then, is early; so that to go to bed after midnight is to go to bed betimes,”(Shakespeare 74). From this one can see that Sir Toby would rather stay up late drinking wine instead of getting some sleep, “Come, come; I’ll go burn some sack; ‘tis too late to go to bed now. Come, knight; come knight,” (Shakespeare 88).
Though Sir Toby is an alcoholic, he does have a relation to other characters and plays an important role in the novel. Sir Toby is the uncle of Olivia, who is part of the main love triangle. He is visiting her in order to comfort her because she is in mourning due to her brother’s recent death. This is the second reason why I chose Sir Toby because while his niece is very depressed and saddened by her brother’s death, Sir Toby is drinking, laughing, and overall acting the opposite way than Olivia is. Thus, Sir Toby makes the story more interesting because he provides a counterpart to the main plot since Olivia is in mourning, Orsino is depressed Olivia does not love him, and Viola is upset Orsino does not love her. Actually, while the three main characters are upset and sad, Sir Toby is laughing, singing, and partying, “But shall we make the welkin dance indeed? Shall we rouse the night-owl in a catch that will draw three souls out of one weaver?” (Shakespeare 78). As one can see, Sir Toby wishes to sing a catch, which is a certain type of song, so loud, that it will raise the roof and wake owls, which is the exact opposite that Olivia would want to do.
Lastly, Sir Toby plays a role in moving the main plot forward. Not only is Sir Toby related to Olivia, but he is also friends with Sir Andrew and Maria. This sort of friendship helped create the plot to make Malvolio, a servant to Olivia, look like a fool, “He shall think, by the letters that thou wilt drop, that they come from my niece, and she’s in love with him,” (Shakespeare 86). As shown, Sir Toby is participating in a practical joke that involves making Malvolio believe Olivia is in love with him, even though she is mourning and she denies being in the presence of men. Without Sir Toby taking part in the joke toward Malvolio, the plot would not go on in the same direction.