Twelfth Night

Baiting Malvolio

One of the central plotlines of the play is the baiting of Malvolio. Sir Toby Belch, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Maria and other members of the household enact a revenge plot on the puritanical and humourless Malvolio, their shared enemy.

Answer the following questions before undertaking a creative writing task:

  1. Why do the other characters take revenge on Malvolio? What are their reasons?
  2. What is Malvolio’s ‘weakness’ (or ‘weaknesses’) that they take advantage of?
  3. What are the stages of their revenge plan and how does it play out?
  4. How do you feel as an audience member watching the revenge plot play out against Malvolio?

Creative writing task

Twelfth Night is set in a world before modern technology and social media. If the story was set in present day, how might the characters ‘bait’ Malvolio using modern technologies? Brainstorm their revenge plan, and how it might play out.

Write a story or scene in which you adapt the story of the revenge plot against Malvolio for the present day. Make sure your plot mirrors the same story as Twelfth Night. If you write a scene, youy could rehearse and perform it for your class.

Extension task – Following the creative writing task, as a class consider – did the baiting seem more cruel in Shakespeare’s original play, or in the present-day scenario? Why?