Twelfth Night by Shakespeare SUMMARY

Act 1 Scene 1 Hanging out in his court in Illyria, the moody Duke Orsino listens to the live band & talks about love. At first, he says he can’t get enough of music because it really puts him in the mood for lovin’. Then, Orsino tells the musicians to go – he doesn’t want to hear it anymore. When Curio asks the Duke if he wants to go hunting for hart (deer) instead of lounging around, Orsino says that the thought of killing deer reminds him of the time he first laid eyes on Olivia.
Valentine enters the room with bad news – he wasn’t able to deliver Orsino’s love note to Olivia because, when he showed up at the Countess’s place, her handmaid told him to go away.Olivia’s also sent the Duke a little message – she’s sad about her dead brother, so she’s decided to mourn for the next 7 years. When Orsino hears this, he says he admires Olivia’s devotion to her family & thinks that, if she’s this devoted to her dead brother, then she’s really going to be a great lover when Cupid’s arrow makes her fall for a living man. Orsino announces he wants to loll around on “sweet beds of flowers” while he thinks about love.
Act 1, Scene 2 The scene opens after a terrible ship wreck. Viola, a few sailors, and a (sea) captain arrive on shore & Viola asks where they are. The captain says they’re in Illyria. Viola is sad that she’s in Illyria & says her brother is probably in heaven, but she’s holding onto hope that he is alive. The captain tries to comfort Viola & says that, after the ship sank, he saw her brother tie himself to the mast, which had somehow managed to stay afloat.
The captain’s description of Sebastian clinging to the ship’s mast also reveals to the audience what went down at sea. Apparently, when the ship split in 2 & the passengers & crew went into the water, Viola, avoided drowning by hanging on to the side of a life boat.Viola gives him some gold for cheering her up. The captain, who grew up 3 hours away from Illyria, tells Viola about the country & about its local people. The beloved Duke Orsino is a bachelor who’s been trying to hook up with the Countess Olivia, but Olivia’s not into him. Her dad died about a year ago & then her brother died shortly after, so she’s sworn off the company of men while she grieves. Viola responds to the gossip by wishing she could disguise her identity & social class for a while by working as Olivia’s servant – at least until she gets her bearings & figures out what to do next.
The captain explains why that’s just not going to happen: Olivia isn’t seeing any visitors, not even the Duke. Viola tells the captain that he seems like a trusty fellow, so she’s going to pay him money to dress her up like a boy & not tell anyone about it. Since she’s got such a great singing voice, she wants the captain to introduce her to the Duke as a eunuch. The idea is that parading around as a eunuch will guard Viola from suspicion that she’s a woman, while allowing her singing talents to earn her some props in the Duke’s court.(as early as 400 A.D. – choir boys were frequently castrated before they hit puberty to preserve their extraordinary singing voices. The captain agrees to keep his lips zipped while Viola dresses up like a boy & plays “I’m a singing eunuch” at Orsino’s court. (eunuch = young boy)
Act 1, Scene 3 Back at Olivia’s place, Sir Toby Belch (who has been drinking all night) complains that his niece, Olivia, needs to stop – she’s mourned for her dead brother long enough. Maria warns him to come home at a more reasonable hour, because Olivia’s does not like him staying out late.Toby says that’s just too bad – he’s going to have fun. Maria now starts in on Toby’s guest & drinking buddy, Sir Andrew Aguecheek. When Toby brags that Aguecheek’s has money–Maria scoffs that he’ll go through his cash within the year because he drinks too much.
Toby defends Aguecheek speaks & says he speaks 3 or 4 languages & plays a musical instrument. Maria’s points out that Aguecheek’s a drunk & likes to pick fights that he can’t win. She says he’s a coward & will get himself killed. Toby says Aguecheek’s always drunk – because he’s always drinking toasts to Olivia’s good health. Toby, (still drunk), then brags that he’ll beat any man that refuses to drink a toast to Olivia. Sir Andrew Aguecheek shows up & says hello to Toby and introduces himself to Maria, who proceeds to rag on him. Toby gives Aguecheek a hard time for letting a woman do that. The 2 banter each other. Sir Andrew Aguecheek says he’s a good time withToby, but it’s time to go, since Olivia’s not interested in marrying him.
Toby says, there’s no way Olivia will get with Duke Orsino, so Aguecheek should hang in there a bit longer. Aguecheek says he might as well stick around for another month or so. They talk more smack and drink some more
Act 1 Act 4 Back at Duke Orsino’s place, Valentine praises “Cesario” (Viola in disguise) for making a name for “himself” in such a short time in the Duke’s service. Viola (as “Cesario”), who has clearly spent a lot of time with Orsino in the past 3 days, asks Valentine if the Duke has mood swings.
Orsino enters looking for “Cesario” – he wants his boy to go over to Olivia’s place to talk her up for him. Orsino says that “Cesario” is the man for the job since “he” already knows how Orsino feels about Olivia and that “he” shouldn’t let Olivia’s servants try to shoo “him” away. “Cesario” is skeptical since it sounds like Olivia is really upset about her dead brother. Orsino tells “Cesario” to do whatever it takes to get the job done, even if he has to cause a big scene at Olivia’s house. “Cesario” agrees but asks what “he” is to do if “he” actually makes it inside Olivia’s.Duke Orsino seems to think that Olivia will be so moved by “Cesario’s” youth & girlish beauty that she’ll want to hook up with the Duke.
Orsino then describes “Cesario’s” luscious ruby red lips & high pitched voice, all of which he believes will get Olivia in the mood for some lovin’.Viola (as “Cesario) agrees to do this but then she drops a bombshell on the audience: it’s going to be brutal for her to be Orsino’s wingman because she (Viola) is falling for the Duke. The situation stinks because she (Viola) wants to be the Duke’s wife, but now she has to try to convince Olivia to marry the Duke.
Act 1 Scene 5 At Olivia’s place–Maria & Feste the Clown goof around & talk trash. Feste makes a dirty joke about how “well hung” he is when Maria tells him that Olivia will literally hang him because he hasn’t shown up to work in such a long time. Olivia enters & orders her servants to “Take the fool away.” Feste responds by saying something like “Hey – didn’t you hear Olivia say take the fool away? Take her away already.”
Olivia is amused, but pretends she’s not, so Feste will have to convince her that he should be allowed to stay & make her laugh. Then Feste makes a crack about why Olivia really is a fool – she’s wasting her time mourning for a dead brother who’s in a better place (heaven), while she mopes. Malvolio enters the room and asks Olivia why she lets Feste hang around. Malvolio claims that Feste isn’t really that funny. Olivia tells Malvolio to beat it – he’s a jerk if he doesn’t see how great Feste is. Maria enters with news that there’s someone at the gate who wants to talk to Olivia. He’s not taking “no” for an answer & Maria doesn’t know what to do.
Olivia tells Malvolio to go to the gate & say she’s sick/busy. She’s not in the mood to talk.Feste makes a joke about how brainless Sir Toby Belch is, as Olivia’s uncle enters the room. Olivia then takes Toby to task for being a drunk & spending all his time partying. She also asks him about who’s at the gate. Malvolio reenters the room & confirms that there’s a kid at the gate who says he’s not going anywhere until he sees Olivia. Olivia asks what the messenger is like & Malvolio says that he doesn’t seem old enough to be a man or young enough to be a boy. The kid also speaks like a “shrew.” Olivia lets the kid inside, but not before she covers her face with her black veil.
“Cesario” enters the room & asks which one of the lovely ladies is Olivia – “he’s” got to deliver a message from the Duke. Olivia’s not interested in the Duke, but the kid is intriguing so she talks. “Cesario” says “he’s” got this whole message memorized, so let “him” deliver it. “Cesario” insists that “he” needs to speak to Olivia alone so he can deliver his private message. “Cesario” tries to deliver the memorized speech again, but Olivia cuts “him” off & mocks the Duke’s love letter.”Cesario” asks to see Olivia’s face & she removes her veil. “Cesario” says that Olivia is gorgeous – she should get married & have kids with Orsino.
Olivia says that the Duke knows she’s not into him. He’s nice, rich, & handsome, but he must take “no” for an answer. “Cesario” says that doesn’t make any sense. Then Olivia asks “Cesario” what he would do if he loved her (Olivia) & “Cesario” says “he” would stand at Olivia’s gate & sing love poetry until Olivia took pity on “him.” Olivia is totally smitten when she hears this & she asks “Cesario” about his parentage, to which “Cesario” replies that “he” is well-born. Olivia tells “Cesario” to go back to Orsino & tell him to quit bothering her. Then Cesario should come back & tell Olivia what the Duke says. Olivia tries to give “Cesario” a few coins for his trouble, but “Cesario” tells her to keep her money.
When “Cesario” leaves, Olivia says “Cesario” is a total dream-boat. Malvolio enters the room & Olivia lies & says that “Cesario” gave her a ring from the Duke. She says she doesn’t want it so Malvolio should run after “Cesario” & return the trinket. Olivia has forgotten about her quest to mourn for her dead brother. She tells us that “fate” has brought “Cesario” to her, so she’ll let whatever happens happen.
Act 2 Scene 1 On a sea coast (near Illyria) Antonio the sea captain asks Sebastian why he’s leaving. Antonio also wants to know why he can’t go with Sebastian. (We are in mid-conversation. Apparently, Sebastian’s trying to get out of town & needs to untangle himself from a very clingy Antonio. At first, it’s not clear who these guys are and why they must part, but, as the dialogue unfolds, it reveals everything to the audience.)
Based on the scene–it sounds like a break up. The cryptic Sebastian says that he can’t do it, and where he’s going isn’t important anyway. But, Antonio’s such a great guy that he’ll reveal his true identity. His name is “Sebastian,” not “Roderigo,” & he’s really sad because he thinks his twin sister is dead. He also says that he would be dead too if Antonio hadn’t scooped him up out of the ocean 2 hours after his ship sank & his sister drowned. Antonio says that’s just awful & Sebastian replies that he doesn’t want to stress out Antonio with his problems. Antonio begs Sebastian to let him be his servant, but Sebastian brushes him off & tells Antonio to forget he ever existed.
Then Antonio says he doesn’t want to cry like his mother always does, so he needs to be on his way to Duke Orsino’s court. (Note: At this point, we know more than Sebastian does. It’s obvious that he’s Viola’s lost twin brother, but neither of them knows the other is alive. This means that Sebastian has no idea his twin sister is parading around as a boy at Duke Orsino’s court.
Act 2 Scene 2 On a street outside Olivia’s place, Malvolio catches up with Viola (“Cesario”) & asks “him” if he was just at Olivia’s place talking about the Duke. Malvolio is snobby & haughty when he whines about having to run after “Cesario” to give him back the Duke’s ring – Olivia doesn’t want it. Then Malvolio says to “Cesario” that Olivia wants nothing to do with Duke Orsino. She doesn’t want you back at her house unless you return to say that the Duke took his ring back.
Viola (“Cesario”) goes along with this in front of Malvolio & says something like: “I’m not taking back the ring – Olivia took it from me so it’s hers.” Malvolio says to take the ring back. Viola (“Cesario”) wonders what Olivia is doing since she never gave Olivia a ring from the Duke. Viola (“Cesario”) realizes that Olivia has a crush on “Cesario” & she remembers how Olivia seemed distracted & stuttered a lot when they spoke. Then Viola (“Cesario”) goes into a monologue about how she really feels sorry for poor Olivia, because women are weak & “frail.” No wonder Olivia’s been duped by Viola’s disguise. What will happen now that Olivia’s in love with Viola/”Cesario,” whose in love with Orsino, whose in love with Olivia?
Act 2 Scene 3 Toby Belch & Andrew Aguecheek have just returned to Olivia’s place from another all-night party. Toby says that, since it’s after midnight & they’re awake, they’re just like a couple of healthy people who like to wake up early. Aguecheek says he doesn’t know about that, but Toby insists that he & Aguecheek are not only awake at an “early” morning hour, but they also go to bed after midnight, which means they also go to bed “early.”
Sir Andrew says that all he & Toby ever do is eat & drink, so Toby calls for another round of booze. Feste arrives & they greet each other. Aguecheek gives Feste props for the great performance he delivered that night. Feste’s got a great set of pipes and the crowd enjoyed themselves on dance floor. Toby & Aguecheek give Feste more coins & demand a love song, which Feste obliges. The trio continue to fool around, singing & talking trash when Maria enters & tells them to quiet down before Olivia kicks them out. Maria’s chiding doesn’t do any good, so Malvolio runs in to lecture them. Toby threatens that Olivia’s going to throw them out.
Toby, Maria, Feste, & Aguecheek make fun of Malvolio for being a steward (head servant). Toby & his group continue to party. Malvolio yells at Maria & accuses her of tolerating & egging on the rowdy men. Maria tells him to “go shake [his] ears” which is another way of saying “get lost.” When Malvolio leaves, Maria asks the group to take it easy tonight since Olivia’s odd ever since she talked with “Cesario” (Viola in disguise). Maria knows Olivia’s worked up over the visit, but it’s not clear if she knows that Olivia has a crush on “Cesario.” Maria promises to plan an elaborate prank to punish Malvolio for acting like a “kind of Puritan” (a member of a Protestant sect that had beef with the Catholic Church and had a reputation for disapproving of all forms of fun).
Aguecheek says he’d beat Malvolio “like a dog” if he really was a Puritan. Maria says Malvolio has a secret social ambition. Maria’s going to forge a love letter & drop it where Malvolio will find it. When he reads the note, he’ll be convinced that Olivia is in love with him. Toby & Aguecheek can’t wait to mess with Malvolio. When Maria goes to bed, Toby brags that Maria wants to be Mrs. Toby Belch. Toby then tells Aguecheek he’d better send home for some more money since he’s almost out. Aguecheek whines that Olivia will never love him & worries that he’s spending all his money for no good reason. Then he & Toby agree that it’s way too late to go to bed now. They might as well stay up & drink some more beer.
Act 2 Scene 4 Back at Orsino’s court, the Duke orders his band to play a song he heard the night before. Curio says sorry, but Feste’s not here to sing it. He must be over at Olivia’s house because he used to work for Olivia’s dad when he was alive. Duke Orsino tells Curio to find Feste. Orsino turns to “Cesario” and gives “him” some friendly advice, man-to-man, about love. Orsino says if “Cesario” ever falls in love, he should think of the Duke, a “true” lover.
Orsino suspects that “Cesario” (Viola) is in love & “Cesario” admits that yes, “he” is in love with someone who looks like the Duke and is about the same age. Orsino assumes that “Cesario’s” in love with an older woman, so he tells “Cesario” it’s not a good idea for men to marry older women. “Cesario” should marry a sweet young thing because women age fast, which makes them less attractive to their husbands. Women are also not as attractive after they’re no longer virgins. Viola’s response tells us that she worries about aging and becoming less attractive to a potential husband. Feste enters & sings a song for the Duke about a man who is “slain” by a “cruel maid.” Orsino gives Feste some money for his trouble & says it’s late – he wants to go to bed. Feste makes a crack about how moody the Duke’s behavior is before telling “Cesario” that Olivia’s looking for “him.”
Orsino brags that no woman can resist his romantic ways. He says that no woman is capable of being so in love as the Duke “Cesario” disagrees and says that women are just as capable of love as men. “He” tells the story of his “father’s daughter” who once loved a man & says that, if “he” were a woman, he’d love the Duke just as much. (Note: “Cesario”/Viola is being cryptic. The audience knows that Viola is her “father’s daughter” & that she does, in fact, love the Duke.)When Orsino asks what happened to the woman, “Cesario” says she pined away in misery while her unrequited love ate away at her insides, like worms. When Orsino asks if “Cesario’s” sister died, “Cesario” cryptically replies that “he” is the only daughter & the only son in “his” father’s house.
(Note: It’s likely that Orsino thinks “Cesario’s” sister is dead. It’s also possible that Orsino suspects “Cesario” is a woman in disguise. Most directors stage the scene with an ignorant Orsino. But, we’ve also seen productions where it seems that Orsino knows “Cesario” is not really a boy. The play can go either way.Orsino gives “Cesario” a jewel to give to Olivia as a token of his love.
Act 2 Scene 5 In Olivia’s garden, Toby & Aguecheek are with Fabian, who worries that he’ll get in trouble again if he helps them trick Malvolio, who got him in trouble earlier for holding a bear-baiting contest at Olivia’s place. (Bear-baiting was a popular Elizabethan blood sport, where bears were tied up to a stake & forced to fight unleashed dogs.) Toby Belch says they’ll make Malvolio pay for this. Maria enters and tells the men to hide behind a tree because Malvolio is coming.
Then she throws the forged letter on the ground for Malvolio to find. Malvolio enters the garden talking to himself. 1st he says he thinks Maria wants him & then he fantasizes about being married to Olivia, which would make him a Count who could boss around Sir Toby & his crew. Toby & Aguecheek can hardly contain their laughter & their anger at Malvolio’s audacity. The fantasy continues as Malvolio daydreams about fondling some expensive jewels & lecturing Toby for his drunkenness. Malvolio finds the letter & thinks right away that it’s written in Olivia’s handwriting. He thinks the letter is meant for him because it spells out M-A-O-I, all letters that appear in the name Malvolio. The letter instructs Malvolio to pick fights with Toby & group, wear yellow stockings with cross-garters, & smile at everything, even when Olivia’s in a sad mood.
Malvolio runs off to change his clothes. Toby is psyched – Maria’s plot is so clever that he’s tempted to marry her. Maria enters & gloats about her evil genius plan. Malvolio is sure to make a fool of himself while annoying Olivia to no end.
Act 3 Scene 1 In Olivia’s garden, “Cesario” & Feste are talking. Feste claims that he is not a fool, but a “corrupter of words.” “Cesario” gives him some spare change & when Feste implies “Cesario” should give him some more money to fetch Olivia, “Cesario” obliges. “Cesario” tells us how brilliant Feste is & notes that being a Fool takes a lot of talent & an ability to read people. Feste is a “wise” guy.
Sir Toby & Sir Andrew enter the garden to say hello to “Cesario” before Olivia enters. Alone in the garden, Olivia holds “Cesario’s” hand & flirts. “Cesario” tries to brush off Olivia, but she confesses her lust for “Cesario.” “Cesario” says that he feels sorry for Olivia. Then Olivia says fine, I won’t force you, but some day, when you’re older & have gone through puberty, some girl is going to be very lucky to have you. Olivia asks “Cesario” to tell her what “he” thinks of her. “Cesario” gets cryptic & says stuff like “I am not what I am.” Olivia throws herself at “Cesario” & begs “him” to love her.”Cesario” says “his” heart belongs to “no woman” & never will. The audience gets it but Olivia doesn’t.When it’s time for “Cesario” to go, Olivia says feel free to come back.
Act 3 Scene 2 Back at Olivia’s, Sir Andrew Aguecheek tells Fabian & Sir Toby Belch that he’s leaving – Olivia’s never going to marry him so he should just go home. Olivia seems to be after Duke Orsino’s serving boy, “Cesario.”Fabian tells Aguecheek that Olivia’s just pretending to be into “Cesario” because she wants to make him jealous.
Toby says Aguecheek should pick a sword fight with “Cesario” if he wants Olivia to respect him. Toby tells Aguecheek to write a nasty note to “Cesario” so he can deliver the challenge to the “boy.” Aguecheek runs off to write the letter & Fabian and Toby laugh at what a chump he is. Toby says he’s been using Sir Andrew Aguecheek to fund his partying. Toby says he’s not going to deliver the letter because it wouldn’t do any good – “Cesario” & Aguecheek-neither one of them likes to fight. He’s got a better plan. Maria enters & tells them to come quick: Malvolio’s wearing yellow stockings & smiling like a fool (just like the forged letter instructed him to do). Olivia’s going to think he’s gone crazy. They run off to watch what happens.
Act 3 Scene 3 Meanwhile, Sebastian has arrived in Illyria & stands in a street chatting with Antonio, who, apparently, has insisted on following his beloved Sebastian. Antonio says his desire drove him to follow Sebastian to Illyria, even though he’s afraid of the dangers that he might face. Antonio reveals that he’s not really supposed to be in Illyria since he’s kind of a pirate & helped steal some money from Duke Orsino.
He also doesn’t have enough money to pay off the authorities if he’s caught in Illyria. Sebastian asks if Antonio killed a bunch of men & Antonio says no, but the skirmish cost the Duke a lot of money. Then Antonio gives Sebastian a little money & tells him to buy himself something nice, Sebastian takes the money and says he’s going to shop for about an hour and then he’ll meet Antonio back at the Inn (the Elephant).
Act 3 Scene 4 In her garden, Olivia frets about whether or not “Cesario” will come back for a visit. She asks Maria where Malvolio is.Maria tells Olivia that Malvolio’s on his way, but he’s acting like he’s possessed by demons. When Malvolio enters in a ridiculous get-up (yellow stockings with cross-garters) and a silly grin on his face, Olivia asks what is wrong with him. She wants to know why he’s smiling like an idiot when she’s in such a sad mood.
Malvolio continues to act like a fool – slobbering on Olivia’s hand, talking nonsense, & insulting Maria. When Malvolio quotes lines from the forged letter, Olivia has no idea what he’s talking about & thinks he’s lost his mind. Malvolio asks Olivia if she remembers telling him to wear yellow stockings and cross-garters. When a servant enters & announces that “Cesario” has arrived, Olivia tells Maria to fetch Toby & his group to look after Malvolio so she can rush off to greet “Cesario.” Malvolio’s says that he thinks Olivia is into him – he can’t wait to carry out the instructions of the letter by being rude to Sir Toby. Sir Toby & Fabian enter & pretend to think Malvolio’s possessed & needs an exorcism.Malvolio tells them to get lost, but Maria believes he’s been taken over by the devil. Malvolio is confused by the crew’s behavior, especially when Fabian suggests they get a urine sample & make Malvolio say his prayers. Malvolio tells them to get lost & runs away, leaving the crew to comment about how delicious their prank is.
They decide to chase after Malvolio & lock him up in a dark room that will make Malvolio go crazy. Sir Andrew Aguecheek enters with the letter he has written to challenge “Cesario” to a duel. Toby reads the insulting letter aloud & assures Aguecheek that he’ll deliver the note to “Cesario.” Aguecheek should go hide in the orchard. When “Cesario” shows up, Aguecheek should jump out from behind a tree, draw his sword, & say something scary to “Cesario.” Aguecheek runs off to the orchard & Toby tells Fabian & Maria that he’s not going to deliver Aguecheek’s letter. Toby’s going to deliver a verbal message to “Cesario.” Since both “Cesario” & Aguecheek are wimps, they’ll both be scared at the thought of fighting each other. Olivia & “Cesario” enter, but Toby & crew run off to work out the details of their plan before confronting “Cesario.”This gives Olivia a chance to be alone with the luscious “boy.” Olivia says she knows “Cesario” isn’t into her, but she just can’t help herself. She accuses “Cesario” of having a “heart of stone.”
“Cesario” replies that Duke Orsino feels just as sad as Olivia does – unrequited love is bad for everyone & Orsino is still wants Olivia. Olivia begs “Cesario” to wear her miniature & to come back to Olivia’s place tomorrow so Olivia can try to seduce “him” again. After Olivia leaves, Toby Belch & Fabian enter again & tell “Cesario” that someone’s in the garden waiting to beat him. “Cesario’s” terrified & insists that “he” isn’t a fighter. Too bad, says Toby, whip out your sword! “Cesario” asks Fabian for help. Fabian lies & says he’ll try to help smooth things over.Meanwhile, Sir Toby goes into the orchard & tells Aguecheek that “Cesario” is crazy & can’t wait to fight him. Aguecheek is terrified & tries to back out but Toby tells him it’s too late – he better get ready to fight because “Cesario” is ready to go.Sir Andrew tells Toby to tell “Cesario” that Sir Andrew will give him his horse if “Cesario” doesn’t beat him up.
OK, says, Toby, who runs over to “Cesario” & says Sir Andrew’s ready to beat him. Toby forces “Cesario” & Aguecheek together and the 2 draw their swords.Just then, Antonio enters & thinks that “Cesario” is his boy, Sebastian. (Viola looks a lot like her twin brother & apparently the two look identical now that Viola is disguised as “Cesario.”)Antonio’s scared for his boy “Sebastian” & tries to break up the fight. He & Toby trade insults and draw their swords.”Cesario” & Aguecheek put their swords away & Aguecheek promises “Cesario” his horse. The cops show up to arrest Antonio, who has been recognized as one of the pirates who stole from the Duke.Since Antonio thinks that “Cesario” is Sebastian, he asks “him” to return the money he gave him earlier so he can buy his way out of jail. “Cesario” has no idea what Antonio’s talking about but, being a nice person, “Cesario” gives him some money anyway.Antonio is hurt because he thinks Sebastian has hung him out to dry. He can’t believe Sebastian would screw him over like this, after everything Antonio’s done for him. He goes off about how he saved Sebastian from drowning, has been a devoted & loving friend, & then calls Sebastian (who is actually “Cesario”) a devil.
The cops don’t care about this drama & they haul Antonio off.Meanwhile, it finally occurs to Viola (disguised as “Cesario”) that Antonio has mistaken her for her twin brother, Sebastian, since the siblings look so much alike. This gives Viola some hope that Sebastian is still alive & didn’t drown at sea after all. For some reason, Viola keeps this info to herself. After “Cesario” runs off stage, Toby, Fabian, & the cowardly Aguecheek hang back and talk trash about what a wimp “Cesario” has turned out to be. Aguecheek pretends like he wasn’t shaking in his boots two minutes ago and says he ought to run after “Cesario” & beat him.Toby Belch eggs on Aguecheek and they run off after “Cesario.
Act 4 Scene 1 Outside of Olivia’s house, Feste has stumbled across Sebastian (Viola’s un-dead brother) & has mistaken him for “Cesario” (Viola’s disguise). Feste says to Sebastian that Olivia’s looking for him but Sebastian tells him to beat it – he’s not in the mood for Feste’s screwing around. Sebastian has no idea who “Cesario” person is.Feste’s pretty insistent, so Sebastian gives him some money to go away & threatens him if he doesn’t leave. Feste responds with a rude comment.
Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Sir Toby Belch, & Fabian show up looking for “Cesario.” Aguecheek & Toby try to punk Sebastian (they think he’s “Cesario”) & Aguecheek gives Sebastian a little slap. Feste runs inside Olivia’s house to report. Sebastian is about to go off on Toby & Andrew when Olivia runs outside & breaks up the fight. Olivia tells her uncle Toby to get out of her sight & apologizes to Sebastian, who she thinks is her “Cesario.” Sebastian wonders if he’s dreaming or has lost his mind, but he clearly thinks Olivia is beautiful because he says that if he is dreaming, he doesn’t want to wake up. Olivia wants him & Sebastian is all over that & the two run off together.
Act 4 Scene 2 Inside Olivia’s house, Maria makes Feste wear a disguise & pretend he’s a clergyman named Sir Topas, who has come to visit Malvolio. (Malvolio is now locked up like a prisoner in a dark room in Olivia’s house. Remember, Olivia told Maria, Toby, & crew to take care of him when it seemed that Malvolio had gone mad. Maria & Toby are pretending to believe that Malvolio is “possessed” and needs an exorcism.)
Feste makes a crack about how he’s not the first fraud to wear a clergyman’s outfit. Then he approaches Malvolio & pretends to be “Sir Topas.” “Sir Topas” says that he’s come to visit “Malvolio the lunatic.” Malvolio begs “Sir Topas” to fetch Olivia so the whole mess can be straightened out. “Sir Topas” says Malvolio’s been possessed by a sex-crazed devil & proceeds with the mock exorcism. Malvolio cries out & complains about the darkness of the room while “Sir Topas” leaves. Maria comments that Feste could have pulled off the prank without the physical costume since the whole joke depends more on Feste’s ability to disguise his voice, not his looks.Toby tells Feste to go back to Malvolio & play himself and Sir Topas. Feste obliges. Feste returns to Malvolio & sings one of his catchy little songs. Malvolio recognizes Feste’s voice & begs the Fool to fetch him a pen, paper, & a light so he can write a letter that will exonerate him.Feste treats Malvolio like a madman & Malvolio tries to explain that Toby & crew have locked him up & sent an exorcist in order to make him go crazy.
Feste uses his “Sir Topas” voice & advises Malvolio to get some sleep. Then Feste pretends to have a conversation with Sir Topas about Malvolio’s condition. Malvolio begs Feste for pen & paper again & claims he is as sane as anybody else in Illyria. Feste asks him if he’s faking the whole thing & finally promises to fetch some paper and a pen. Feste skips off singing while Malvolio remains locked up.
Act 4 Scene 3 In Olivia’s garden, Sebastian can’t believe his good fortune – Olivia, who he has just met, is into him & recently gave him a pearl as a token of her love. (Sebastian doesn’t know that Olivia thinks he’s “Cesario.”) Sebastian wonders aloud where Antonio is – he sure wishes he could find his trusty pal because Antonio might be able to tell him if the rich, gorgeous Olivia is a dream or reality. Sebastian says that if he isn’t crazy, it’s possible Olivia is.
Olivia enters the garden with a priest in tow. She still thinks Sebastian is “Cesario,” who now appears to be in love with her. She tells Sebastian they should get hitched quickly before her man changes his mind. She wants him before he runs off with some other woman.Sebastian thinks this is a terrific idea & says he’ll go along with whatever Olivia says.
Act 5 Scene 1 In front of Olivia’s house, Fabian & Feste argue about a letter that Feste won’t show Fabian. Duke Orsino, “Cesario,” Curio, & some Lords show up looking for Olivia. Feste makes some clever comments & jokes and Orsino gives him some money for being so entertaining. Feste then convinces Orsino to give him some more gold.
Orsino tells Feste to get Olivia & the clown runs off. Antonio & the cops walk by & Orsino recognizes Antonio as a sea captain that once caused him & his fleet of ships a lot of grief.”Cesario” says Antonio’s the guy who stood up for “him” when Aguecheek & Toby tried to beat “him” up, but Orsino doesn’t care. He can’t believe Antonio has the nerve to show his face in Illyria when he’s a wanted man. Antonio says he’s not a pirate, even though he’s Orsino’s enemy. Then he points at “Cesario” (who he thinks is Sebastian) & whines about the way Sebastian treated him. Antonio says that he saved Sebastian’s life, has been a loving & devoted companion, & has followed Sebastian to Illyria, where he saved his life again. Sebastian has betrayed him by pretending not to know him & by refusing to give him back the money he needs to buy his way out of jail.
“Cesario” is dumbfounded.Orsino says Antonio’s story isn’t possible because “Cesario” has been in Illyria for 3 months, not 1 day, so Antonio is lying. Olivia & her attendants come outside & Duke Orsino tries to make moves, but Olivia does not want it. She yells at “Cesario” for neglecting her so soon after their marriage. (Olivia has married Sebastian off-stage but she thinks she married “Cesario.”) When Orsino hears that his trusty page “Cesario” married the woman of his dreams, he’s furious. He yells at Olivia & “Cesario” before he runs off.”Cesario” goes running after Orsino & swears “his” love & allegiance to him, which upsets Olivia, who thinks that “Cesario” has married her & then run off to be with Orsino. Olivia commands “Cesario” to stay, but “Cesario” doesn’t know what she’s talking about because “he” never married her. (Sebastian did.)
The priest enters & says that he just married Olivia to “Cesario.” (The priest thinks “Cesario” is Sebastian, too.) Orsino says he never wants to see “Cesario” again. To make matters worse, Aguecheek runs out & says that “Cesario” just beat him up. He beat up Toby, too. (The audience knows that it was Sebastian, not “Cesario.”)”Cesario” denies everything, but Toby runs out and corroborates Aguecheek’s story. Both men are bleeding &, when Toby asks if anyone has seen the local doctor, Feste informs him that the doctor has been drunk since 8 o’clock in the morning – he’s not going to come. This infuriates Toby, who announces that he hates all drunks before yelling at Aguecheek & running off to drink more beer.Sebastian comes in & says he’s sorry to Olivia for beating up her uncle Toby. Everyone is shocked & amazed that there seems to be 2 “Cesario’s” standing on stage.
Sebastian recognizes Antonio (who is still in handcuffs) & is overjoyed to see his bosom friend. Antonio is amazed. He asks Sebastian if he’s split himself in 2. Sebastian notices “Cesario” standing nearby & says he can’t believe there’s a guy out there who looks just like him. He wants to know who “Cesario’s” parents are and where “Cesario” comes from. Viola is cryptic & says her father’s name is Sebastian. That’s her brother’s name too, but he’s drowned & dead. Sebastian still hasn’t figured it out. He says that if “Cesario” were a woman, he would look just like his long lost sister Viola, who is dead.Viola then says her father had a mole on his face & Sebastian says his father had that too. When Viola announces that her dad died on her 13th birthday, Sebastian finally understands that “Cesario” is in fact his sister, Viola.
Viola says “I’m Viola dressed as a boy. I’d put my girl clothes back on now but I left them with the sea captain who fished me out of the ocean so I’ll have to stay in these clothes.”Sebastian looks at Olivia and says it’s lucky for her that she married him instead of “Cesario.” Otherwise, Olivia would be married to a woman. Orsino tells Olivia not to worry about it, because Sebastian comes from noble blood, which means Olivia hasn’t just married a servant boy (“Cesario”) after all. Orsino turns to Viola, & calls her “boy” (even though he knows she’s a girl) & reminds Viola of all the times “Cesario” told him “he” loved him. Viola confirms that yes, she is totally in love with Orsino.Orsino grabs her hand and says he wants to see her in her “woman’s weeds” (her dress).
Viola says she can’t do it because the sea captain’s got her clothes & Malvolio is holding the sea captain prisoner. Olivia calls for Malvolio & Feste gives her the letter Malvolio wrote while imprisoned in the dark room.Feste says Malvolio’s possessed by the devil, but, when he reads the letter aloud to Olivia, Olivia knows something’s up. Orsino turns to Viola & says she doesn’t have to be his servant anymore – she gets to be his wife now. Fabian brings out Malvolio, who says that he did everything in Olivia’s letter so she shouldn’t have locked him in prison for doing what she asked. Olivia figures out that Maria forged the letter & that Toby and company having been playing a mean joke on Malvolio. She promises Malvolio that she’ll fix things, but Malvolio runs off & swears he’ll get revenge.
Olivia says that poor Malvolio really got the raw end of the deal, but nobody really seems to care about Malvolio’s feelings. Duke Orsino says that Viola will “be” Cesario until she changes out of her boy’s clothes. But, when she puts her dress back on, she’ll be his woman. Feste sings a song and everybody lives happily ever after (except for Malvolio).