Event Title

“Better a witty fool than a foolish wit”: Feste in Twelfth Night and Erasmus’s The Praise of Folly

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Matthew Fike

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

English

Location

DiGiorgio Campus Center, Room 220

Start Date

22-4-2016 2:00 PM

End Date

22-4-2016 2:15 PM

Description

William Shakespeare was definitely familiar with Erasmus’s philosophy, and several of Shakespeare’s fools have been successfully compared to Folly. No previous study, however, links Folly and Feste. This paper argues that Shakespeare uses Feste to convey Folly’s sense that foolishness can lead to wholeness through the acknowledgement of emotion. The balance between reason and emotion is similar to C. G. Jung’s individuation, the process of bringing unconscious content to conscious awareness. Malvolio, the play’s joyless Puritan, fails to achieve either folly or individuation because he represses his emotions, which synonymous with progress toward psychological well-being. Lacking folly, as Malvolio does, one can be neither truly wise nor fully human.

Course Assignment

Shakespeare, ENGL 305, Dr. Matthew Fike

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Apr 22nd, 2:00 PM Apr 22nd, 2:15 PM

“Better a witty fool than a foolish wit”: Feste in Twelfth Night and Erasmus’s The Praise of Folly

DiGiorgio Campus Center, Room 220

William Shakespeare was definitely familiar with Erasmus’s philosophy, and several of Shakespeare’s fools have been successfully compared to Folly. No previous study, however, links Folly and Feste. This paper argues that Shakespeare uses Feste to convey Folly’s sense that foolishness can lead to wholeness through the acknowledgement of emotion. The balance between reason and emotion is similar to C. G. Jung’s individuation, the process of bringing unconscious content to conscious awareness. Malvolio, the play’s joyless Puritan, fails to achieve either folly or individuation because he represses his emotions, which synonymous with progress toward psychological well-being. Lacking folly, as Malvolio does, one can be neither truly wise nor fully human.