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In the comic subplot, several characters conspire to make Olivia's pompous steward, Malvolio, believe that Olivia has fallen for him. This involves Olivia's uncle, Sir Toby Belch; another would-be suitor, a silly squire named Sir Andrew Aguecheek; her servants Maria and Fabian; and her fool, Feste. Sir Toby and Sir Andrew engage themselves in drinking and revelry, thus disturbing the peace of Olivia's house until late into the night, prompting Malvolio to chastise them. Sir Toby famously retorts, "Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?" (Act II, Scene III) Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Maria are provoked to plan revenge on Malvolio. They convince Malvolio that Olivia is secretly in love with him by planting a love letter, written by Maria in Olivia's hand. It asks Malvolio to wear yellow stockings cross-gartered, to be rude to the rest of the servants, and to smile constantly in the presence of Olivia. Malvolio finds the letter and reacts in surprised delight. He starts acting out the contents of the letter to show Olivia his positive response. Olivia is shocked by the changes in Malvolio and leaves him to the contrivances of his tormentors. Pretending that Malvolio is insane, they lock him up in a dark chamber. Feste visits him to mock his insanity, both disguised as a priest and as himself.
Meanwhile, Sebastian (who had been rescued by a sea captain, Antonio) arrives on the scene, which adds confusion of mistaken identity. Mistaking Sebastian for 'Cesario', Olivia asks him to marry her, and they are secretly married in a church. Finally, when 'Cesario' and Sebastian appear in the presence of both Olivia and Orsino, there is more wonder and confusion at their similarity. At this point Viola reveals she is a female and that Sebastian is her twin brother. The play ends in a declaration of marriage between Duke Orsino and Viola, and it is learned that Sir Toby has married Maria. Malvolio swears revenge on his tormentors but Orsino sends Fabian to console him.
SCENE I. An apartment in the DUKE'S palace.
Enter DUKE, CURIO, and other Lords; Musicians attending
DUKE. If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall:
0, it came o'er my ear like the sweet sound,
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour!
Enough; no more:
'T is not so sweet now as it was before.
O spirit of love, how quick and fresh art thou!
That, notwithstanding thy capacity
Receiveth as the sea, nought enters there,
Of what validity and pitch soe'er,
But falls into abatement and low price,
Even in a minute! so full of shapes is fancy,
That it alone is high fantastical.
CUR. Will you go hunt, my lord?
DUKE. What, Curio?
CUR. The hart.
DUKE. Why, so I do, the noblest that I have:
O, when mine eyes did see Olivia first,
Methought she purged the air of pestilence!
That instant was I turn'd into a hart;
And my desires, like fell and cruel hounds,
E'er since pursue me.
How now! what news from her?
VAL. So please my lord, I might not be admitted;
But from her handmaid do return this answer:
The element itself, till seven years' heat,
Shall not behold her face at ample view;
But, like a cloistress, she will veiled walk
And water once a day her chamber round
With eye-offending brine: all this to season
A brother's dead love, which she would keep fresh
And lasting in her sad remembrance.
DUKE. O, she that hath a heart of that fine frame
To pay this debt of love but to a brother,
How will she love, when the rich golden shaft
Hath kill'd the flock of all affections else
That live in her; when liver, brain and heart,
These sovereign thrones, are all supplied, and fill'd
Her sweet perfections with one self king!
Away before me to sweet beds of flowers:
Love-thoughts lie rich when canopied with bowers.
SCENE II. The sea-coast.
Enter VIOLA, a Captain, and Sailors
VIO. What country, friends, is this?
CAP. This is Illyria, lady.
VIO. And what should I do in Illyria?
My brother he is in Elysium.
Perchance he is not drown'd: what think you, sailors?
CAP. It is perchance that you yourself were saved.
VIO. O my poor brother! and so perchance may he be.
CAP. True, madam: and, to comfort you with chance,
Assure yourself, after our ship did split,
When you and those poor number saved with you
Hung on our driving boat, I saw your brother,
Most provident in peril, bind himself,
Courage and hope both teaching him the practice,
To a strong mast that lived upon the sea;
Where, like Arion on the dolphin's back,
I saw him hold acquaintance with the waves
So long as I could see.
VIO. For saying so, there's gold:
Mine own escape unfoldeth to my hope,
Whereto thy speech serves for authority,
The like of him. Know'st thou this country?
CAP. Ay, madam, well; for I was bred and born
Not three hours' travel from this very place.
VIO. Who governs here?
CAP. A noble Duke, in nature as in name.
VIO. What is his name?
VIO. Orsino! I have heard my father name him:
He was a bachelor then.
CAP. And so is now, or was so very late;
For but a month ago I went from hence,
And then 't was fresh in murmur,—as, you know,
What great ones do the less will prattle of,—
That he did seek the love of fair Olivia.
VIO. What's she?
CAP. A virtuous maid, the daughter of a count
That died some twelvemonth since; then leaving her
In the protection of his son, her brother,
Who shortly also died: for whose dear love,
They say, she hath abjured the company
And sight of men.
VIO. O that I served that lady,
And might not be delivered to the world,
Till I had made mine own occasion mellow,
What my estate is!
CAP. That were hard to compass;
Because she will admit no kind of suit,
No, not the Duke's.
VIO. There is a fair behaviour in thee, captain;
And though that nature with a beauteous wall
Doth oft close in pollution, yet of thee
I will believe thou hast a mind that suits
With this thy fair and outward character.
I prithee, and I'll pay thee bounteously,
Conceal me what I am, and be my aid
For such disguise as haply shall become
The form of my intent. I'll serve this Duke:
Thou shalt present me as an eunuch to him:
It may be worth thy pains; for I can sing,
And speak to him in many sorts of music,
That will allow me very worth his service.
What else may hap to time I will commit;
Only shape thou thy silence to my wit.
CAP. Be you his eunuch, and your mute I'll be:
When my tongue blabs, then let mine eyes not see.
VIO. I thank thee: lead me on.
SCENE III. OLIVIA'S house.
Enter SIR TOBY BELCH and MARIA
SIR To. What a plague means my niece, to take the death of her brother thus? I am sure care's an enemy to life.
MAR. By my troth, Sir Toby, you must come in earlier o' nights: your cousin, my lady, takes great exceptions to your ill hours.
SIR To. Why, let her except, before excepted.
MAR. Ay, but you must confine yourself within the modest limits of order.
SIR TO. Confine! I'll confine myself no finer than I am: these clothes are good enough to drink in; and so be these boots too: an they be not, let them hang themselves in their own straps.
MAP. That quaffing and drinking will undoe you: I heard my lady talk of it yesterday; and of a foolish knight that you brought in one night here to be her wooer.
SIR To. Who, Sir Andrew Aguecheek?
MAR. Ay, he.
SIR To. he's as tall a man as any's in Illyria.
MAR. What's that to the purpose?
SIR To. Why, he has three thousand ducats a year.
MAR. Ay, but he'll have but a year in all these ducats: he's very fool and a prodigal.
SIR To. Fie, that you'll say so! he plays o' the viol-de-gamboys, and speaks three or four languages word for word without book, and hath all the good gifts of nature.
MAR. He hath indeed, almost natural: for besides that he's a fool, he's a great quarreller; and but that he hath the gift of a coward to allay the gust he hath in quarrelling, 't is thought among the prudent he would quickly have the gift of a grave.
SIR To. By this hand, they are scoundrels and substractors that say so of him. Who are they?
MAR. They that add, moreover, he's drunk nightly in your company.
SIR To. With drinking healths to my niece: I'll drink to her as long as there is a passage in my throat and drink in Illyria: he's a coward and a coystrill that will not drink to my niece till his brains turn o' the toe like a parish-top. What, wench! Castiliano vulgo; for here comes Sir Andrew Agueface.
Enter SIR ANDREW AGUECIIEEK
SIR AND. Sir Toby Belch! how now, Sir Toby Belch!
SIR TO. Sweet Sir Andrew!
SIR AND. Bless you, fair shrew.
MAR. And you too, sir.
SIR TO. Accost, Sir Andrew, accost.
SIR AND. What that?
SIR TO. My niece's chambermaid.
SIR AND. Good Mistress Accost, I desire better acquaintance.
MAR. My name is Mary, sir.
SIR AND. Good Mistress Mary Accost,—
SIR TO. You mistake, knight: "accost" is front her, board her, woo her, assail her.
SIR AND. By my troth, I would not undertake her in this company. Is that the meaning of "accost"?
MAR. Fare you well, gentlemen.
SIR To. An thou let part so, Sir Andrew, would thou mightst never draw sword again.
SIR AND. An you part so, mistress, I would I might never draw sword again. Fair lady, do you think you have fools in hand?
MAR. Sir, I have not you by the hand.
SIR AND. Marry, but you shall have; and here's my hand.
MAR. Now, sir, "thought is free": I pray you, bring your hand to the buttery-bar and let it drink.
SIR AND. Wherefore, sweet-heart? what's your metaphor?
MAR. It dry, sir.
SIR AND. Why, I think so: I am not such an ass but I can keep my hand dry. But what's your jest?
MAR. A dry jest, sir.
SIR AND. Are you full of them?
MAR. Ay, sir, I have them at my fingers' ends: marry, now I let go your hand, I am barren. [Exit.]
SIR To. O knight, thou lackest a cup of canary: when did I see thee so put down?
SIR AND. Never in your life, I think; unless you see canary put me down. Methinks sometimes I have no more wit than a Christian or an ordinary man has: but I am a great eater of beef and I believe that does harm to my wit.
SIR TO. No question.
SIR AND. An I thought that, I 'Id forswear it. I'll ride home to-morrow, Sir Toby.
SIR To. Pourquoi, my dear knight?
SIR AND. What is "pourquoi"? do or not do? I would I had bestowed that time in the tongues that I have in fencing, dancing and bear-baiting: O, had I but followed the arts!
SIR To. Then had'st thou had an excellent head of hair.
SIR AND. Why, would that have mended my hair?
SIR To. Past question; for thou seest it will not curl by nature.
SIR AND. But it becomes me well enough, does 't not?
SIR To. Excellent; it hangs like flax on a distaff; and I hope to see a housewife take thee between her legs and spin it off.
SIR AND. Faith, I'll home to-morrow, Sir Toby: your niece will not be seen; or if she be, it 's four to one she'll none of me: the count himself here hard by woos her.
SIR TO. She'll none o' the count: she'll not match above her degree, neither in estate, years, nor wit; I have heard her swear't. Tut, there's life in 't, man.
SIR AND. I'll stay a month longer. I am a fellow o' the strangest mind i' the world; I delight in masques and revels sometimes altogether.
SIR To. Art thou good at these kickshawses, knight?
SIR AND. As any man in Illyria, whatsoever he be, under the degree of my betters; and yet I will not compare with an old man.
SIR To. What is thy excellence in a galliard, knight?
SIR AND. Faith, I can cut a caper.
SIR TO. And I can cut the mutton to 't.
SIR AND. And I think I have the back-trick simply as strong as any man in Illyria.
SIR TO. Wherefore are these things hid? wherefore have these gifts a curtain before 'em? are they like to take dust, like Mistress Mall's picture? why dost thou not go to church in a galliard and come home in a coranto? My very walk should be a jig; I would not so much as make water but in a sink-a-pace. What dost thou mean? Is it a world to hide virtues in? I did think, by the excellent constitution of thy leg, it was formed under the star of a galliard.
SIR AND. Ay, 't is strong, and it does indifferent well in a flame-coloured stock. Shall we set about some revels?
SIR To. What shall we do else? were we not born under Taurus?
SIR AND. Taurus! That's sides and heart.
SIR TO. No, sir; it is less and thighs. Let me see thee caper: ha! thigh-er: ha, ha! excellent!
SCENE IV. The DUKE'S palace.
Enter VALENTINE, and VIOLA in man's attire
VAL. If the Duke continue these favours towards you, Cesario, you are like to be much advanced: he hath known you but three days, and already you are no stranger.
VIO. You either fear his humour or my negligence, that you call in question the continuance of his love: is he constant, sir, in his favours?
VAL. No, believe me.
VIO. I thank you. Here comes the count.
Enter DUKE, CURIO, and Attendants
DUKE. Who saw Cesario, ho?
VIO. On your attendance, my lord; here.
DUKE. Stand you a while aloof. Cesario,
Thou know'st no less but all; I have unclasp'd
To thee the book even of my secret soul:
Therefore, good youth, address thy gait unto her;
Be not denied access, stand at her doors,
And tell them, there thy fixed foot shall grow
Till thou have audience.
VIO. Sure, my noble lord,
If she be so abandon'd to her sorrow
As it is spoke, she never will admit me.
DUKE. Be clamorous and leap all civil bounds
Rather than make unprofited return.
VIO. Say I do speak with her, my lord, what then?
DUKE. O, then unfold the passion of my love,
Surprise her with discourse of my dear faith:
It shall become thee well to act my woes;
She will attend it better in thy youth
Than in a nuncio's of more grave aspect.
VIO. I think not so, my lord.
DUKE. Dear lad, believe it;
For they shall yet belie thy happy years,
That say thou art a man: Diana's lip
Is not more smooth and rubious; thy small pipe
Is as the maiden's organ, shrill and sound;
And all is semblative a woman's part.
I know thy constellation is right apt
For this affair. Some four or five attend him;
All, if you will; for I myself am best
When least in company. Prosper well in this,
And thou shalt live as freely as thy lord,
To call his fortunes thine.
VIO. I'll do my best
To woo your lady: [Aside] yet, a barful strife!
Whoe'er I woo, myself would be his wife.
SCENE V. OLIVIA'S house.
Enter MARIA and Clown
MAR. Nay, either tell me where thou hast been, or I will not open my lips so wide as a bristle may enter in way of thy excuse: my lady will hang thee for thy absence.
CLO. Let her hang me: he that is well hanged in this world needs to fear no colours.
MAR. Make that good.
CLO. He shall see none to fear.
MAR. A good lenten answer: I can tell thee where that saying was born, of "I fear no colours."
CLO. Where, good Mistress Mary?
MAR. In the wars; and that may you be bold to say in your foolery.
CLO. Well, God give them wisdom that have it; and those that are fools, let them use their talents.
MAR. Yet you will be hanged for being so long absent; or, to be turned away, is not that as good as a hanging to you?
CLO. Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage; and, for turning away, let summer bear it out.
MAR. You are resolute, then?
CLO. Not so, neither; but I am resolved on two points.
MAR. That if one break, the other will hold; or, if both break, your gaskins fall.
CLO. Apt, in good faith; very apt. Well, go thy way; if Sir Toby would leave drinking, thou wert as witty a piece of Eve's flesh as any in Illyria.
MAR. Peace, you rogue, no more o' that. Here comes my lady: make your excuse wisely, you were best.
CLO. Wit, an 't be thy will, put me into good tooling! Those wits, that think they have thee, do very oft prove fools; and I, that am sure I lack thee, may pass for a wise man: for what says Quinapalus? "Better a witty fool than a foolish wit."
Enter LADY OLIVIA with MALVOLIO
God bless thee, lady!
OLI. Take the fool away.
CLO. Do you not hear, fellows? Take away the lady.
OLI. Go to, you 're a dry fool; I'll no more of you: besides, you grow dishonest.
CLO. Two faults, madonna, that drink and good counsel will amend: for give the dry fool drink, then is the fool not dry: bid the dishonest man mend himself; if he mend, he is no longer dishonest; if he cannot, let the botcher mend him. Any thing that's mended is but patched: virtue that transgresses is but patched with sin; and sin that amends is but patched with virtue. If that this simple syllogism will serve, so; if it will not, what remedy? As there is no true cuckold but calamity, so beauty's a flower. The lady bade take away the fool; therefore, I say again, take her away.
OLI. Sir, I bade them take away you.
CLO. Misprision in the highest degree! Lady, cucullus non facit monachum; that's as much to say as I wear not motley in my brain. Good madonna, give me leave to prove you a fool.
OLI. Can you do it?
CLO. Dexteriously, good madonna.
OLI. Make your proof.
CLO. I must catechize you for it, madonna: good my mouse of virtue, answer me.
OLI. Well, sir, for want of other idleness, I'll bide your proof.
CLO. Good madonna, why mournest thou?
OLI. Good fool, for my brother's death.
CLO. I think his soul is in hell, madonna.
OLI. I know his soul is in heaven, fool.
CLO. The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your brother's soul being in heaven. Take away the fool, gentlemen.
OLI. What think you of this fool, Malvolio? doth he not mend? MAL. Yes, and shall do till the pangs of death shake him: infirmity, that decays the wise, doth ever make the better fool.
Excerpted from Twelfth Night; or, What You Will by WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, CANDACE WARD. Copyright © 1996 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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Posted September 15, 2011
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