Twelfth Night: Madness

Well, madness is
a big theme in the play because lots of people
are being accused of being mad. I think Shakespeare was quite curious
about what constitutes “mad” or “madness”. So, at the heart of it, Malvolia… In our version, she’s Malvolia because Malvolio, in our version,
has become a woman. And in this version, she receives a letter which makes her think
that her female boss is in love with her. “I may command where I adore…” Why! She may command me. I serve her. She is my lady. Why, this is evident. She dresses in a way
that the letter stipulates, only to discover that the letter is a con
written by somebody else. The other characters decide
to make her mad, so they imprison her in a dark room
and interrogate her. I think that people in the play
think that Malvolia is mad because she’s behaving in a way
that they’ve never experienced before. So it’s a kind of…shock tactic,
on their part, to explain her behaviour, but it’s also an element of manipulation. It’s all about chaos
and madness. It’s like a big whirligig of time
and it’s like a full circle. At the beginning, you’ve got a storm
and two people losing each other, a very tragic story, and then you get
the more comedic characters coming on. Then a lot of mis-identity and chaos and making love to the wrong people
and foolery and huge practical jokes,
right back to the end, to the wind and the rain
and everyone back out into the real world.Methinks his words do from
such passion fly that he believes himself.
So do not I.He doesn’t know it’s mistaken
identity, he doesn’t think, “Maybe she’s confused me for someone
else.” He jumps straight to madness. I think it’s because of everything
that’s come before. I think, had it not been for the shipwreck and the fight and all that stuff,
he’d be more in a clearer state of mind. He’d be like,
“Oh, she must think I’m someone else.”Go with me to my houseand hear thou there how many fruitless
pranks this…ruffian has botched up
that thou thereby mayst smile at this.Thou shall not choose but go. Do not deny.Because of everything
that’s happened before — which is the beauty of Shakespeare —
everything that’s happened before, that’s what’s led him
to the whole kind of “madness” thing. It’s the same thing in Othello —
everything happens perfectly for Othello to kind of go crazy
in the time that he does, and if anything was different,
it would be a different story.

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