Twelfth Night key quotes – Viola

What country, friends, is this? -Act 1 , Scene 2-first line; talking to Captain-common noun friends helps establish Viola as pragmatic
For saying so, there’s gold -Act 1, Scene 2-Captain just explained the sitch, also gave her valuable info on her brother-provides further information to audience (captain called her ‘lady’) that she has power; reflective of her role and nature
O that I had served that ladyAnd might not be delivered to the worldTill I had made mine own occasion mellowWhat my estate is! -Act 1, Scene 2-about Olivia, who she has learnt is in a similar situation to herself-suggestion that Viola is hiding her own identity because she doesn’t want to accept her brother’s death; can mourn via Olivia-that she immediately decides to ‘serve’ Olivia, even though she herself is a lady and could live with her as such, suggests a modesty not found in any other lord/lady (Orsino/Olivia); S playing with role subversion and mistaken identity
Conceal me what I am -Act 1 Scene 2-talking to Captain-imperative furthers idea of her as powerful-first mention of her disguising herself; disguise as a key motif-humour through the nature of her disguise as a eunuch
I’ll serve this duke -Act 1 Scene 2-announcing her plan-Samuel Johnson observed that “Voila is an excellent schemer, never at a loss; if she cannot serve the lady, she will serve the Duke.”
If she be so abandon’s to her sorrowAs it is spoke, she will never admit me -Act 1 , Scene 4-talking to Orisno, about Olivia-a possible comment on the loneliness of mourning; having never met Olivia, Viola is surely using her experience to empathise-‘it is spoke’ that her sorrow is hyperbolic and it could be said that Viola and Olivia’s sorrows cannot be related – twin love vs being protected love
Yet a barful strife!Who’er I woo, myself would be his wife -Act 1, Scene 4-said aside, after hearing Orsino gush about Olivia-first admission of attraction for Duke-mockery of ‘love at first sight’ – they’ve known each other for three days and she’s thinking about marrying him
I am not that I play -Act 1 Scene 5-to Olivia-‘play’ contributes to lexical field of theatrical jargon (speech, con, part, comedian)-dramatic irony
Lady, you are cruell’st she aliveIf you lead these graces to the graveAnd leave the world no copy -Act 1, Scene 5-to Olivia, ends section filled with poetic, feminine language; comic because Olivia assumes Cesario wants her babieess-gender confusion creates comedy; she is a woman playing a man speaking in feminine language to a woman who thinks she a man. also played by a man
Alas, our frailty is the cause, not we.For such as we are made of, such we be -Act 2 Scene 2-midway through a soliloquy after Malvolio has left-Viola is cause and effect (she is both the ‘proper-false’ and the ‘waxen hearts’), acting as both male and female.-comedy arises from the gender confusion again, but also could come from the suggestion of femininity being frail ?- women in this play are pragmatic (Viola), powerful (Olivia, Viola), deceitful (Viola, Maria), none of which frail
My state is desperate for my master’s love -Act 2, Scene 2-towards end of soliloquy after Malvolio’s exit – talking directly to audience; creating relationship with audience-unrequited love and love that isn’t allowed as a key motif throughout the play; Olivia/Cesario, Viola/Orsino, Orsino/Olivia, Antonio/Sebastian, Malvolio/Olivia, even Andrew/Olivia through master/servant or other roles etc-comedy through her desperation – she put herself in this mess and now is desperate to be out of it
O time! thou must untangle this, not I;It is too hard a knot for me t’untie -Act 2, Scene 2-end of soliloquy-acknowledging lack of power – in fitting with her role as woman, creates comic confusion through her role as a man. fate personified as a key motif-comic confusion rises through the lack of continuity in her character – costume=gender, but helplessness=feminine
Say that some lady, as perhaps there is,Hath for your love as great a pang of heartAs you have for Olivia -Act 2 Scene 4-to Orsino, who tbh is being a dick-embedded clause does three things; dramatic irony for audience, compliments Orisno, and reflects her desperation for his love-dramatic irony, audience laughing at her desperation
A blank, my lord. She never told her love,But let concealment, like a worm i’ the bud,Feed on her damask cheek -Act 2, Scene 4-to Orsino, about the supposed daughter her father had-the entire story is a thinly veiled allusion to Viola’s own predicament, but also has similarities to a story Cesare Gonzaga created, whose narrative depicts a young girl abstaining from loving a man she cannot have; the ending, which details the girl’s death, suggests Viola fears a similar fate. this allusion reveals Viola’s attitude to love and her intelligence.-clever wordplay with post-modifying descriptive adjective ‘blank’ which could refer to either the nature of the story she is telling (void due to tragic ending) or Cesario’s narrative, which is blank because it hasn’t yet been acted out – may well end tragically, no one knows-first mention of conceal being treacherous to women’s beauty-comedy through the hyperbole of the situation
I am all the daughters of my father’s house,And all the brothers too: and yet I know not -Act 2, Scene 4-answering Orsino’s (stupid) question “but did she die”-another riddling clue to Viola’s identity- subsequent clause as though it was an afterthought prompted by a melancholy reflection on Sebastian and his uncertain fate – is she all the brother’s or is there another?-comedy lies in uncertainty; comic confusion
Save thee, friend, and thy music! Dost thou live by the tabor? -Act 3, Scene 1-to Feste, presumably after he’s finished playing his tabor-use of common noun again as a vocative carries implication that although she’s not been there long, she’s created strong relations – reveals pragmatic nature-begins segment of witty repartee with prepositional phrase ‘live by the church’ – high humour
By my troth, I’ll tell thee, I am almost sick forone – [aside] though I would not have it grow on my chin. Is thy lady within? -Act 3, Scene 1-responding to Feste’s joke about her lack of facial hair-double entendree – to make her disguise more convincing, or a reflection of her desperation for Orsino-beard=man; physical attributes maketh the gender
This fellow is wise enough to play the fool … This is a practiceAs full of labor as a wise man’s art -Act 3 Scene 1-beginning and end of a short soliloquy after Feste has left and before Toby and Andrew enter-entirely in blank verse (iambic pentameter without rhyme)-praise for Feste unites her with Olivia – “There is no slander in an allow’d fool” (1,5)
That you do not think you are not what you are -Act 3 Scene 1-responding to Olivia’s “tell me what thou think’st of me”-‘you are forgetting yourself’ i.e by loving someone of a lower social status AND the same gender (not that Olivia knows this – or does she?)-comedy through dramatic irony, witty repartee, Shakespeare possibly making a humorous point that it is the lower classes that uphold ‘what is right’ and stand on higher moral ground than their masters
I am not what I am -Act 3 Scene 1-responding to Olivia suggesting she is of higher rank; follows a section of witty repartee-referencing both role and gender-comic confusion because although she’s talking about role and gender, Olivia will only interpret it as role, and see her as up for grabs, but the vital bit is the she won’t understand because of Viola’s disguise-dramatic irony, link to (1,5) I am not that I play – also said to Olivia
By innocence I swear, and by my youthI have one heart, one bosom and one truth,And that no woman has; nor never noneShall mistress be of it, save I alone -Act 3 Scene 1-response to Olivia’s blatant admission of love-commonplace in Early Modern English to use multiple negatives – would it still be confusing? probably-final two lines have 3 possible meanings: no woman is capable of such integrity, nobody will ever win her heart, or that she will never love a woman – doubtless that audiences and characters will understand different meanings
I am no fighter -Act 3 Scene 4-to Sir Toby, after finding out what Sir Andrew is like-simple sentence creates comic confusion and holds dramatic irony – she’s a WOMAN, but she could be playing on her status as a eunuch, who wouldn’t fight
I am no fighter … [aside] A little thing would make me tell them how much I lack of a man -Act 3 Scene 4- simple sentence creates comic confusion and holds dramatic irony – she’s a WOMAN, but she could be playing on her status as a eunuch, who wouldn’t fight-‘little thing’ was Elizabthan slang for the dong-point to be made about what opponents are willing to give up – Andy “I’ll give him my horse” a few lines previously
I do assure you, ’tis against my will -Act 3 Scene 4-further resistance to duel=SHE IS A WOMAN-comedy because she’s trying absolutely everything to get out of this, and in the end it is a man who saves her, believing her to be someone else
I hate ingratitude more in a manThan lying, vainness, babbling, drunkenness,Or any taint of vice whose strong corruptionInhabits our frail blood -Act 3 Scene 4-towards Antonio, when he begs [Sebastian] for the money he lent to him-the four vices she mentions have already been made apparent in the play – and she herself embodies a lying man!-‘our frail blood’ – admission of her womanhood (link to 2,2 “our frailty”) or insulting men by continuing pretence of her disguise
Methinks his words do from such passion flyThat he believes himself; so do not I,Prove true, imagination, O, prove true,That I, dear brother, be now ta’en for you! -Act 3, Scene 4-to herself, but not aside – Toby, Fabian, Andrew still on stage-rhyming couplets emphasise excitement that Seb is alive-ploce of ‘prove true’ furthers exctiement
I my brother knowYet living in my glass…For him I imitate -Act 3 Scene 4-to herself, but not aside – Toby, Fabian, Andrew still on stage-suggestion that her motive for disguising as a man and imitating her brother was to keep him alive; dealing with grief through reincarnation of the dead; link to 1,2 “oh had I but served that lady…”
My lord would speak; my duty hushes me -Act 5-responding to Olivia who hopes C will side with her-Cesario keeps within the restrictions of his role as eunuch – unusual for this play, utilised to create humour (opposing theme of role reversal); re-establishes decorum at end of play; criticising Olivia for her disregard of hierarchy
If spirits can assume both form and suit,You come to fright us. -Act 5-response to Sebstian’s appearance-link to Hamlet: “If it assume my noble father’s person” (1,2) and “It harrows me with fear and wonder” Horatio-‘us’ could suggest she identifies with those in Illyria rather than her home town Messaline – more identity confusion
Do not embrace me till each circumstance… do cohere and jumpThat I am Viola -Act 5-after realising that Seb may very well be her supposedly dead twin-her postponing of the celebration until she is in her “maiden weeds” implies that she is not Viola until she wears Viola’s clothes; she is Cesario in this attire – which contradicts her responses to both Orsino and Olivia-use of synonyms ‘cohere’ and ‘jump’ reveal how joyful she is, having before been able to converse in witty repartee with Feste