Notes on Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Notes on Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

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Act I
"'Get you to your lord. I cannot love him. Let him send no more, Unless, perchance, you come to me again.'"-- Olivia (Shakespeare 25)
Olivia shows interest in Cesario. This stirs up more dramatic irony as the audience knows that Cesario is actually Viola in disguise. Her interest in Cesario makes it more difficult for Orsino to woo her and for Viola to eventually reveal herself. What was before a simple plot of a man trying to win over the girl, is now a complex story of a love triangle.
"'If it be a suit from the Count, I am sick, or not at home. What you will to dismiss it.'" --Olivia (Shakespeare 19)
Olivia's mood has worsened due to the grief from her brother's death. Though she allows her servants to interact with her, she refuses any other company. Confirming her sorrow, her dismissive attitude implies that though she was once social, she is too affected by her brother's death to socialize.
"'Let him approach.'" --Olivia (Shakespeare 21)
Though she was too distraught to agree to socialize initially, her mind has changed almost instantly when she hears that her visitor is a young man. Her quick change of mind foreshadows her never steadfast judgment. Later after Viola reveals herself as Olivia's crush Cesario, Olivia wastes no time switching her affection to Sebastian.
Act II
"'She is drowned already, sir.'"--Sebastian (Shakespeare 28)
At this point in the novel, Sebastian believes that his twin sister has drowned. His obliviousness to her disguise and actions ultimately leads to a more confusing climax when he finds his way into Viola's plan. Sebastian's belief that Viola is dead leads to dramatic irony and more drama for viewers.
"'Fortune forbid my outside have not charmed her [....] She loves me sure.'"--Viola (Shakespeare 29)
Viola has just figured out that Olivia likes her (as Cesario) and realizes this will cause alot of complications as her job is to woo Olivia for Orsino and because she is not a man. This causes Viola to distance herself from Olivia. She realizes that revealing herself to Olivia will ruin her plan of getting close to Orsino.
"'How dost thou like this tune?'[....] 'even when they are to perfection grow.'" --Orsino & Viola as Cesario (Shakespeare 39-40)
Viola hints that she has feelings for Orsino. This simulates more drama and complications because she is still disguised as Cesario, Orsino likes Olivia, and Olivia likes her (as Cesario). This builds up the rising action as each love interest becomes tangled with each other, the plot complicates.

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"'My father had a daughter loved a man' [....] 'Say My love can give no place, bide no denay.'" --Orsino & Viola as Cesario (Shakespeare 42-43)
Viola gets Orsino interested in her when she (Cesario) talks herself up. This comes as a challenge because Orsino was so devoted to liking Olivia. Though she was initally focused on becoming Orsino's right-hand man, she has mixed business with pleasure and has tried to get Orsino for herself. This "do anything for love" attitude contrasts against her apparent manly disguise.
Act III
"'Nothing that can be can come [...] he is to be thanked.'" --Malvolio (Shakespeare 66)
In the beginning of the play, Malvolio was seen as an uptight servant. After Maria's forged epistle for Malvolio from Olivia, Malvolio shows emotion as he thanks fate for Olivia's said love for him. He no longer seems uptight and wishes to woo Olivia at the manipulation and amusement of Maria and Toby.
"'God comfort thee. Why dost thou smile so, and kiss thy hand so oft?'" --Olivia (Shakespeare 64)
After Toby and Maria convince Malvolio that Olivia is secretly in love with him, Malvolio starts to become more romantic with Olivia, believing that she loves him back. Though Olivia is out of the loop, her confusion with Malvolio's affection makes Malvolio believe she is trying to conceal her feelings for him. Malvolio believes their love has been confirmed with Olivia's confused facade.
"'Dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparation, for thy assailant is quick, skillful, and deadly.'" --Toby (Shakespeare 71)
Olivia's love for Cesario has caused a chain of events stimulating Andrew's fury. As he had tried to court Olivia multiple times, he is frustrated when he sees that she doesn't have feelings for him and likes Cesario who has been around only lately. Unlike Cesario who tries to mediate the situation, Andrew has become enraged and furious, as men tend to resort to anger.
"'I am almost sick for one, though I would not have it grow on my chin.'" --Viola (as Cesario) (Shakespeare 53)
Viola slips up again and mentions that she'd like a beard to complete her disguise. Though the clown believes it to be the wish of a hairless man, Viola has hinted to her true identity again. Her stereotypical feminine characteristics of being obsessed with her appearance is shown here. Though the clown doesn't realize it, her ruse is revealed through her femininity.
Act IV
"'Go to, go to, thou art a foolish fellow. Let me clear of thee.'" --Sebastian (Shakespeare 79)
As Sebastian enters the world of lies Viola has built up, he ruins her plans as Cesario when he is spotted as Cesario. With no comprehension that Viola is in fact alive and is pretending to be a man, Sebastian presents conflict. His interference has confused others and caused a detour with Viola's plan.
"'Now, sir, have I met you again? There' for you!'" "'Why, there's for thee, and there, and there!'" --Andrew & Sebastian (Shakespeare 80)
Sebastian has walked in on Viola's plan and has gotten caught in the middle of it. He confuses everyone with his physical similarity to Cesario. Sebastian interferes with her plan as he fights with Andrew, making everyone believe Cesario has fought with Andrew.
"'I'll follow this good man and go with you And having sworn truth, ever will be true.'" --Sebastian (Shakespeare 88)
Sebastian's true character as a romantic is shown here. Though he has only known Olivia from a glance, he has agreed to marry her. This presents an odd contrast of Sebastian's femininity with Viola's masculinity. The contrast is notable due to the fact that Sebastian and Viola are twins, mirror twins perhaps.
"'After him I love More than I love these eyes, [....] Punish my life for tainting of my love!'" --Viola as Cesario (Shakespeare 94)
Here, Viola slips up with her disguise and confesses her love for Orsino in front of Olivia and still in her manly disguise. This presents the climax of the novel when Viola has revealed too much to cover up her ruse. Olivia realizes something is wrong especially since her alleged husband is confessing that he love another man. Viola at this point has to explain everything.



Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night. Newly Revised Edition ed. New York City: Signet Classic, 1998. Print.

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