Simple first assignment: study the scene from Twelfth Night assigned to you, summarize it in detail, and find one line or sentence that seems to state an important general idea in the play. These should be roughly a page or two long, and are due by the time class starts on Thursday 18 May.
In this scene, Viola is still masquerading as Cesario. She has been sent to the home of Lady Olivia and this is where she first meets the clown, Feste, outside in the garden. Their small talk quickly turns into verbal combat, as they joke and attempt to outdo one another. During this interchange, Feste makes a comment that may suggest he does not care for Cesario. However, I might be interpreting this incorrectly and the statement in lines 22-24 may be more good-natured. Anyway, this leads Viola/Cesario to ask whether Feste is Olivia’s fool. Feste remarks:
No, indeed, sir; the Lady Olivia has no folly: she
will keep no fool, sir, till she be married; and
fools are as like husbands as pilchards are
to herrings; the husband’s the bigger: I am indeed not
her fool, but her corrupter of words. (3.1.26-30)
It is important to highlight this statement because I feel that it does an excellent job of not only remaining within the attitude of the character but that his sentiments encapsulate one of the overall themes in the play. Set in the context of modern day, Twelfth Night would be considered a romantic comedy. Like the screwball comedies of the past, the characters are constantly finding themselves in outlandish situations, all for the sake of love. Feste’s remarks suggests that the men/husbands in this story are the biggest fools of all. By the end of the play, I would have to agree with his observation.
This is because almost every man introduced in the play engages in foolish behavior. For example, Orsino spends a majority of his time obsessing over Olivia. However, he falls for Viola after realizing his close acquaintance is actually a woman. Sebastian stumbles into marriage and goes along with the mistaken identity, despite knowing almost nothing about the woman he marries. Meanwhile, Sir Toby proves to be a drunken embarrassment the entire play and is revealed to be the secret husband of Maria. Lastly, Malvolio, while arguably this character does not marry, spends a majority of his time making a fool of himself in an attempt to become the husband of Olivia.
Returning to the garden scene, Feste leaves just as Sir Toby and Andrew arrive. They greet Cesario and as per their nature, the men act ridiculous around their new acquaintance. This exchange is awkward and just as they invite Cesario inside, Olivia and Maria enter the garden. Olivia sends everyone inside, except for Cesario. As they speak, Cesario begins by proclaiming to be a servant for her. The reasoning for this is because any servant of Count Orsino will also be a servant of Olivia’s as well. Cesario continues to adore her with flatter, on the behest of Orsino, but she stops it and asks for no more messages from him.Instead, Olivia reveals that she is in love with the Cesario. This is an uncomfortable situation and Cesario references the idea of the fool once again. Cesario continues by proclaiming that no woman will ever have “his” heart. This statement is cleverly crafted and allows Cesario to use the secret of her true sexuality as a means to dissuade Olivia without
lying. Afterwards, Cesario begins to leave but Olivia calls out one last time. She asks Cesario to come again and maybe she can be convinced to fall in love with Orsino in the future.
In Act three scene two it is revealed that Sir Andrew witnessed Olivia and Viola conversing in the garden and is extremely irate. Furious that Olivia has decided to bestow her affections upon Orsinos young courtier, he announces his decision to leave as he sees that he has no chance winning Olivia’s heart. He announces his intentions to Sir Toby and Fabian who both immediately insist that he stay. Fabian and Sir Toby claim that Olivia had realized he was standing there the whole time and decided to flirt with Cesario in order to make Andrew jealous.
Fabian further claims that Andrew showed have confronted the youth then and there in a display of “valor”. This would have proved his affections to Olivia. Sir Andrew at first dismisses this as nonsense, but his desire to marry Olivia outweighs his reason, and he is convinced to prove himself by challenging Cesario to a duel in order to win her hand. Sir Toby of course does not truly care whether Olivia cares for Andrew or Cesario. He simply wants to continue enjoying Sir Andrews’s wealth.
Then Maria appears and begs Fabian and Toby to come and see Malvolio, who is acting like an utter fool. Malvolio is walking around in yellow stockings, cross-gartered and constantly smiling like a madman. This is due to a letter Maria forged from Lady Olivia and sent to Malvolio as a way to make a fool out of him and reveal his true desires towards Olivia. The letter stated that if he wished to marry Olivia he must do all of these absurd things. Maria, Toby, and Fabian all exit to have a laugh at Malvolio and the scene ends.A line that seems to capture the irony of this play is spoken incidentally by Toby. He states “there is no love-broker in the world can more prevail in man's commendation with woman than report of valor”. I find this highly ironic especially coming from Sir Toby, considering he himself lacks valor. In fact most of the characters in this play act without valor and yet they almost all find love and happiness in the end. Orsino acts like a ridiculous moping fool for the majority of the play by pining after a woman who does not love him, and somehow Viola manages to fall for him. Likewise, the tricks Maria plays on Malvolio are a bit cruel, while her husband Sir Toby acts ridiculous and greedy for the majority of the play. Yet they take part in the happiness by the end of the play. The irony this displays only further shows the shallowness of most of these characters actions and emotions which perhaps was Shakespeare’s intention.
This scene is a brief one, between Sebastian and Antonio, and it is only the second time that the audience sees these characters. When the audience last saw them, Sebastian had left Antonio alone, intent on carrying on without him. It must be assumed that in the interim, Antonio followed Sebastian and made his plea to stay, as (3.3) begins with Sebastian acquiescing to Antonio’s desire to join him. Antonio explains that he felt a strong urge to follow Sebastian, not only because he wanted to be with him, but also because he feared for his safety in unfamiliar territory. Sebastian thanks him for his concern and companionship, and invites Antonio to explore the city. Antonio replies that it can wait until tomorrow; for now, he is concerned about finding lodging. Sebastian insists that he is not tired, however, and points out that there is a good deal of time until nightfall. He entreats Antonio to see the city with him, but Antonio explains that he cannot—he once inflicted considerable damage on one of Orsino’s ships, and he would be in grave danger if he were spotted. Sebastian asks whether he killed many of Orsino’s men, but Antonio says that he did not, and that the occasion was not particularly bloody. He explains that in the conflict, most of his city returned what they had stolen—except him. He does not elaborate further on what the conflict was or what it was that he stole, but he says that he will pay dearly if he is found in this place. Sebastian advises Antonio to be stealthy in his movements so as not to be caught. Antonio offers Sebastian some money and tells him that the best place to stay is a place called the Elephant, in the south suburbs. While Sebastian is out satisfying his curiosity about the sights of the city, Antonio will make arrangements for them there. Antonio tells Sebastian to take his purse in case he happens upon something he’d like to buy while he is out exploring the city. Sebastian agrees to take Antonio’s purse, and the pair agree to meet at the Elephant after an hour.In lines 4-5 of this scene, Antonio says “My desire, more sharp than filed steel, did spur me forth.” Love or desire spurring someone on to pursue another is a recurring motif in Twelfth Night. Orsino pursues Olivia, Viola pursues Orsino, and Olivia pursues Viola (disguised as Cesario). What is remarkable about Antonio’s pursuit of Sebastian, however, is that it appears to be born out of genuine love and care for him. Orsino carelessly disregards Olivia’s grief, Viola pursues Orsino without ever having met him, and Olivia decides that she loves Cesario after only a brief encounter, but Antonio demonstrates real care for Sebastian. Beyond the generous gesture of giving Sebastian his purse, Antonio has accompanied Sebastian into Illyria at great personal risk to himself because he is afraid for Sebastian’s safety.
The scene starts off with an exchange between Olivia and Maria. Olivia is asking for Malvolio, and Maria is saying that he is coming but he is behaving rather strangely. When Malvolio enters it is very clear that something is wrong with him. Olivia is rather confused at first and seems to be mad that Malvolio is not acting sad and mourning her brothers death. Instead he says that he is not blue and starts kissing his hand. Malvolio then states the quote “Some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” After he continues to babble. Olivia seems off put and rather angry that Malvolio is rambling about yellow stockings and rather they are criss crossed or not. Olivia states that this is “midsummer madness” meaning she thinks he is basically insane.
A servant then enters stating that Orsino’s messenger is here, and Olivia says that she will see him. She then orders Maria to take care of Malvolio and they bother exit the room to go get Toby. Malvolio responds to Olivia, even though she has left the room, with a rather long passage speaking about how Maria is going to take care of him, and how he is not some poor fellow that Maria needs to take car of. He thinks everything is going perfectly well. Clearly at this point we know that he has completely lost it. But he thinks in all this that Olivia is actually in love with him, and that is why he is acting crazy.
After his rant about how he is perfectly fine, Maria reenters the room with Toby and Fabian. Toby states that he doesn't care what has taken over Malvolio he wants to speak with him. Malvolio tells them to all go away. Maria then claims again that the devil is in him and that someone needs to handle it. Then Fabian tells them to gather a sample of “his water” or urine, and take it to the wise woman who is basically a witch doctor. Malvolio goes on a rant how the devil is not in him, but he wont speak of the devil or say anything about religion. This obviously is a sign to Fabian and Toby that he is in fact of the devil. Toby then decides they should tie him up and throw him in a dark room.
Sir Andrew then enters in the midst of all this with a letter for Orsino’s messenger, Cesario to a fight and telling him that he is a liar and deserves to die. Toby then tells Sir Andrew to become a guard for him. As soon as he sees Andrew he is to draw his sword, scream cuss words, and this will make him more brave. Of course the reader, or rather us thinks he will look like an idiot.
Cesario comes back with Olivia. Olivia then gives Cesario a locket that has her picture it it. She then states that anything Cesario asks she will give. Cesario since he(she) is a messenger for Orsino states that he(she) wants nothing but Olivia to love Orsino. Olivia then tells him to come back tomorrow. Olivia then leaves and Toby starts talking to Cesario about the fight that Andrew would like to have with him. Cesario is rather confused on why he wants to fight him, and say that he will not fight.
Toby then does to find Andrew to talk with him. He tells Andrew that Cesario is a monster and will completely destroy him in fight. Therefore convincing Sir Andrew to not fight him. In all this Toby is really just doing Cesario a favor. Meanwhile Fabian is with Cesario and they are discussing how Cesario does not want to fight but Fabian is insisting that he will have to. In all this commotion Antonio enters and tells both to lower their swords, he shall fight instead of Cesario, because he thinks it is his lover Sebastian.Suddenly officers are entering. They recognized Antonio is wanted in Illyria and arrest him. As he is being arrested he asks Cesario who he still thinks is Sebastian for his purse back. Of course Cesario is confused and says he has no idea what he is talking about. Antonio thinks Cesario is lying and is heartbroken that his lover is betraying him. In all this the officers think Antonio has lost his mind and take him away. Of course this gives Cesario hope that his (her) brother is still alive and we see him (her) take off, leaving Andrew and Toby left. Sir Andrew and Toby are very confused by the whole thing, and think that Cesario abandoned his friend in all
Act four, scene one of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” begins with Feste the fool and Sebastian, Viola’s twin brother, entering and speaking with each other. Sebastian tells Feste to leave him be, however, the fool does not do so but rather says, “Nothing that is so is so (1959),” to which Sebastian responds, “Vent thy folly elsewhere (1960)!” Feste finally exits after Sebastian has given him some money. Sirs Andrew and Toby enter with Fabian who all helped plot to have Sir Andrew duel with Cesario. They believe Sebastian is Cesario as they are twins. Sebastian has never met them before and is very confused and claims they are mad. Toby tries to provoke a fight, but before a swordfight breaks out, Olivia enters where she angrily tells Toby what an “ungracious wretch (1997)” he is. Olivia then proceeds to console Sebastian, who she believes is Cesario, and begs him to come into the house with her.
Though Sebastian brushes off Feste for saying “nothing that is so is so” as madness, this line is very perceptive as to what is really occurring in the plot. Though there is only one character who is not who they really are with the help of a disguise, Cesario, much confusion is caused. So many lies are tangled together to create only a semblance of truth. Orsino’s love for Olivia is very fickle, however, time after time he sends messengers to her to proclaim his love and passion for her. In sending Cesario as a messenger, though he (Cesario/Viola) attempts to relay the message, Olivia finds herself in love with Cesario. Meanwhile, Maria, Sirs Toby and Andrew have falsified a letter to make Malvolio believe Olivia is in love with him and the sorts of things he must do to show he knows and loves her too. When Sebastian and Antonio enter, they are living under the impression that Viola is dead. When Sebastian encounters Olivia and those that live with her, they believe he is Cesario.
All the characters are living in a web of untruths or misbeliefs to make Feste’s observation that “nothing that is so is so” very insightful. Feste himself is not what he seems to be. Though he is a fool by trade, he is very wise and more understanding than any of the other characters.