My masters, are you mad?
~ Malvolio's most famous line.

Malvolio is the main antagonist of the early 1600s play Twelfth Night, written by William Shakespeare. He is the vain, pompous and arrogant servant of the Countess Olivia, who he is infatued with.

In the 1997 film, he was portrayed by the late Nigel Hawthorne, who also played Campion in Waterhip Down, and Raymond Cocteau in Demolition Man. In the 2013 Globe perforamnce, Malvolio was portrayed by Stephen Fry, who also portrayed Lord Piggot-Dunceby in The Missing Link, General Melchett in Blackadder Goes Forth, Reaver in Fable, Arthur Wellesley in Blackadder and Master of Laketown in The Hobbit trilogy.


Malvolio wears yellow stockings per the request of Maria in the latter half of the play in the hopes of pleasing Olivia. He dresses againt the sumptuary laws, dressing in finery rather than in servant's clothing.


Malvolio is arrogant, entitled and patronising. He is described by Olivia to be "sick of self-love", highlighitng his egoism. Furthermore, Malvolio applies himself to the answer of the riddle Maria gives, posing as Olivia, on who Olvia's "beloved" is. Malvolio assumes it to be himself, thus showing his egoism once more. Malvolio shows emotion and remorse once he is released from prison, and swears vengence on the Revellers (Maria, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, Feste and Fabian). In a transgression from Shakespeare's usual style, Maria makes a direct topical comment of the era, and described Malvolio like a "puritan". Malvolio hates enjoyment, and condemns Maria, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Feste for being too loud one evening.


Following a drunken evening of music and general bawdiness from Sir Toby Belch, Sir Andrew Augecheek, Maria and Feste, Malvolio interrupts and hushes them for enjoying themself. He threatens them. Maria and the rest (labelled as the Revellers), decide to play a prank on Malvolio in traditional twelfth night style. Maria fabricates a letter in Olivia's handwriting which she leaves for Malvolio to find. The letter reveals Olivia is in love with someone, but it is not stated who. The letter ends with the ambiguous acronym "M.O.A.I". It takes little time for Malvolio to apply himself to this riddle in the hopes that Olivia is in love with him. The letter requests the beloved to wear yellow stockings (Olivia's most detested colour), to patronise the rest of the servants and continue smiling when in the presence of Olivia. Malvolio begins these requests, shocking Olivia. Olivia believes Malvolio to be mad, and leaves him to the care of the Revellers, who lock him in prison. Feste visits Malvolio in prison. As Malvolio is unable to see Feste, he changes his voice to pretend to be one Sir Topas, a curate, as well as Feste himself. Malvolio is eventually brought out of prison following the revelation of Viola and Sebastian's identity. Malvolio swears revenge on the revellers for the trickery.


Sad, lady! I could be sad: this does make some obstruction in the blood, this cross-gartering, but what of that?
~ Malvolio trying to flirt with Olivia whilst ridiculously clad.
To be Count Malvolio!
~ Malvolio thirsting for power.
Never was a man thus wronged.
~ Malvolio pitying himself.
I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you.
~ Malvolio's last line as he vows revenge.



Count Malvolio

Malvolio's Villain Song in the 'Twelfth Night' musical

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