Character Analysis: Sir Toby From "Twelfth Night"

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Twelfth Night, a comedy by William Shakespeare, is well known for its remarkable use of dramatic irony. This play takes place in a town named Illyria and it gets its name from the Epiphany feast in the Christmas season. The play features a variety of characters, a winding plot, as well as an extremely tangled love triangle. One of Twelfth Night’s most infuriating characters is Sir Toby Belch. He is a middle-aged knight who is portrayed as a coarse, drunken man. Sir Toby, at times, is a very carefree character, but most of the time he is simply irresponsible and malicious. Sir Toby is very carefree and serves as a contrast to the lovelorn melancholy around him. Other characters in the play are living a disheartening and gloomy life, but Toby counter-balances the depressing scenes in the play by embodying the holiday spirit. He is always ready for a party, and he likes to have a good laugh. Toby does not like to take life too seriously, and he makes light of anything too grim. This attitude is shown when he first comes into the play, drunk, saying “What a plague means my niece to take the death of her brother thus? I’m sure care’s an enemy to life.” (1.3.1-2) Toby cannot understand why his kinsman, Olivia, is taking her brother’s death so seriously, and says that he believes grief is unhealthy. At times, Toby is a cheerful character who always is ready to have fun and make light of a situation. Although the high spirit of Sir Toby is occasionally a relief, he can sometimes seem overly careless. Sir Toby’s irresponsible nature frequently extends beyond being simply care-free. He spends his time drinking and partying, when he really cannot afford this type of luxurious lifestyle. Toby does not even make an attempt to make any money; he keeps his foolish friend, Andrew, around to pay for his drinking. He relies on Olivia for a home, but then he doesn’t make an effort
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