Twelfth Night

allusion a brief and indirect reference to a person, place, thing or idea of historical, cultural, literary or political significance.
chiasmus a rhetorical device in which two or more clauses are balanced against each other by the reversal of their structures in order to produce an artistic effect.
metaphor an implicit, implied or hidden comparison between two things that are unrelated but share some common characteristics.
metonymy a figure of speech that replaces the name of a thing with the name of something else with which it is closely associated.
oxymoron a figure of speech in which two opposite ideas are joined to create an effect.
paradox a statement that appears to be self-contradictory or silly but may include a latent truth.
personification a figure of speech in which a thing, an idea or an animal is given human attributes.
ploce the repetition of a word or phrase to gain special emphasis or to indicate an extension of meaning
pun a play on words in which a humorous effect is produced by using a word that suggests two or more meanings or by exploiting similar sounding words having different meanings.
Simile a figure of speech that makes a comparison, showing similarities between two different things using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’.
synecdoche a literary device in which a part of something represents the whole or it may use a whole to represent a part.
verbal irony occurs when a speaker speaks something contradictory to what he intends to.
If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die. Metaphor
How easy is it for the proper-false In women’s waxen hearts to leave their forms! Oxymoron
Like Arion on the dolphin’s back, I saw him hold acquaintance with the waves So long as I could see. Simile, Allusion
She never told her love, But let concealment, like a worm i’ the bud, Feed on her damask cheek: she pined in thought; And with a green and yellow melancholy She sat like patience on a monument, Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed? Imagery
For they shall yet belie thy happy years, That say thou art a man: Diana’s lip Is not more smooth and rubious… Irony
Why should I not, had I the heart to do it, Like to the Egyptian thief at point of death, Kill what I love? Simile
But indeed words are very rascals since bonds disgraced them…. words are grown so false, I am loath to prove reason with them. Chiasmus
A murderous guilt shows not itself more soon Than love that would seem hid: love’s night is noon. Paradox
Come hither, boy: if ever thou shalt love, In the sweet pangs of it remember me… Oxymoron
in Act II, scene iii of Twelfth Night, when Sir Toby calls the diminutive Maria “Penthesilea.” Allusion
MARIA: Ay, but you must confine yourself withinthe modest limits of order. SIR TOBY: 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. Ploce
VIOLA: Nay, that’s certain; they that dally nicely with words may quickly make them wanton. CLOWN: I would, therefore, my sister had had no name, sir. VIOLA: Why, man? CLOWN: Why, sir, her name’s a word; and to dally with that word might make my sister wanton. Synecdoche
…thy small pipe Is as the maiden’s organ, shrill and sound… Simile
ORSINO: My life upon’t, young though thou art, thine eye Hath stay’d upon some favour that it loves: Hath it not, boy? Personification
CLOWN: Wit, an’t be thy will, put me into good fooling! 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’… Chiasmus
What does this scene demonstrate about the Duke’s view of love? He believes that love is very cruel, as shown by his comparison of love and the ocean, and he believes that love can be very fickle and constantly changing.
Assess the Duke’s love for Olivia based on the information provided in this scene. He is infatuated with her and believes that she should love him back because of how charming and wonderful he is. He thinks that once she meets him she will forget about being in mourning and focus on him. He is ‘hunting’ her and wants to claim her.
Is there anything unusual about Olivia’s reaction to her brother’s death? She is very deeply mourning and refuses to see anyone except for her closest servant and wears a veil almost all of the time. She swore off men out of respect which seems a bit extreme.
Do Olivia and the Duke appear to have any personality traits or views in common? None at all.
Identify the figurative device that is used by both Viola and the Captain within the first fifteen lines of this scene. What effect does the use of this device create? The device used is an allusion to Roman mythology, with Viola asking if her brother has gone to Elysium, which are the Roman fields of Heaven where the good go when they die. Later the Captain plays off of this and says that he saw Viola’s brother jump off of the ship like ‘Arion onto a dolphin’s back’, which is a Roman myth where Arion jumps off of a ship to escape disaster.
Compare and contrast Viola and Olivia based on the information provided in the first two scenes, paying special attention to their situations and personalities. Viola seems that she is clever and hardworking and determined, and does not let grief get in her way. This is a juxtaposition to Olivia who has sworn off visitors, especially men, for at least seven years in memory of the deaths of her brother and her father.
Identify any clues contained in this scene that point to the theme of appearances conflicting with reality. Viola, a young woman, plans on being disguised as a eunuch, which is the opposite of who she really is physically.
What reason does Viola give for wishing to disguise herself? What does this passage reveal about Viola’s social station and personality? She wants to be the Duke’s servant and work for him. She has seemingly been orphaned by the shipwreck and has no family still alive, and she does not want to be a woman alone in a strange country.
What is different about the language of this scene, when compared to the two previous scenes? What does this indicate about the purpose of the scene or the status of the characters? This scene uses much more comedic language than the previous scene. Less formal language is used and comedic devices are employed in order to show the fact that these characters are much less serious than the Captain, Viola, Orsino, and Curio. This is comedic relief in comparison to the seriousness of the previous two scenes.
In what ways are Sir Toby and Sir Andrew similar? In what ways are they different? Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are both comedic characters and are not very intelligent, and they both use many devices, especially puns. However, Sir Toby is much more insulting and rude than Sir Andrew, who seems to watch what he says. Sir Toby is also a drunk.
In this scene, it is revealed that Sir Toby is encouraging Sir Andrew to pursue his niece, Olivia. Is this a realistic match, based on what has been revealed of the characters thus far? What does his matchmaking attempt reveal about Sir Toby? This is not a realistic match, as it seems that Sir Andrew and Olivia have nothing in common. This shows that Sir Toby is certainly a drunkard who seems to have no serious grasp on reality.
As of Act I, scene iii, Olivia has been discussed in every scene of the play, but has not yet appeared on stage. How does Shakespeare use this scene to further develop the audience’s view of the yet unseen Olivia? This creates tension and suspense and allows the audience to determine their own opinion of Olivia before she is actually introduced to the audience.
What is revealed about the Duke in this scene before he arrives on stage? Taking the rest of the plot into account, what could this foreshadow? It is revealed that the Duke is kind to those who deserve it and that his feelings do not change easily. This might show that he will not easily give up on wooing Olivia.
What does this scene, and particularly Viola’s aside, reveal about her character? This scene and Viola’s aside show that she is loyal and determined, but she is not exempt from her own feelings. She is willing to play her part but she might fall victim to what she feels.
Identify the dramatic irony of this scene, and how it is highlighted. What purpose(s) does this irony achieve in terms of the tone of the scene? The dramatic irony is in the fact that Viola, as Cesario, must court Olivia for her/his master the Duke, all while she secretly loves the Duke.
Act I, scene iv introduces an important element of the plot structure of the play. What is the name of this dramatic element, and how does it unfold in this scene? The element introduced is conflict. There is the creation of a love triangle in this scene between the Duke, who wants to woo Olivia; Olivia, who has no interest in the Duke; and Viola, who is disguised as Cesario and has fallen for the Duke.
Identify a biblical allusion that appears in the Clown’s dialogue with Maria, and explain its meaning and effects. [Note that the term madonna, as used in this scene means my lady and is not a biblical allusion.] The biblical allusion occurs in the phrase ‘thou wert as witty a piece of Eve’s flesh as any in Illyria.
Based on the information provided in this scene, describe Malvolio. Malvolio is strict and uptight and he gets his job done very well. However he does not believe in having fun or joking around or anything of that sort.
Now that Olivia has finally appeared on stage, how does she fulfill or defy expectations, in terms of her personality and view of love? She seems to fit her described personality of one who dislikes love and has sworn it off, however she is not as secluded as the others make her out to be. She still chooses to interact with some people, she just is in mourning.
This scene contains instances of both dramatic and situational irony. Identify and describe an example of each. Dramatic irony occurs when Viola, disguised as Cesario, is trying to help the Duke woo Olivia while Viola herself loves the Duke, and when Olivia falls for ‘Cesario’ who is truly Viola. Situational irony occurs when the Fool is actually surprisingly wise and gives good advice and is not just funny and clever but also quite witty.
How does this scene contribute to the motifs of illusion and disguise? Sebastian has been disguising himself as Roderigo, and hiding true identity since he was swept away after the shipwreck.
In Act II, scene i, Shakespeare establishes several similarities between Sebastian and his sister, Viola. Identify and explain these similarities. The first we see of both twins is when they are mourning the ‘death’ of their sibling in the shipwreck. This shows the similarities in their personalities. They also both use disguises, with Viola as Cesario and Sebastian as Roderigo.
What might the appearance of Sebastian and his similarity to Viola foreshadow, based on what has been revealed of the plot up to this point? This might foreshadow that they end up switching places at some point.
What does this scene accomplish in terms of plot development? This scene helps to set up the plot line that Olivia loves Viola/Cesario, and Malvolio is jealous of this and exposes his infatuation for Olivia.
How does Shakespeare use this scene to develop Viola as a character? Identify evidence of her moral nature that can be found in this scene. She has a kind moral nature, as shown by the fact that she feels bad for having a disguise and for seemingly tricking Olivia into loving her (as Cesario), while Viola herself loves the Duke.
What traditions, common in both Elizabethan comedy and Twelfth Night celebrations, are exemplified in this scene? The traditions of the celebrations of Twelfth Night are shown in this scene. There is a lot of celebration and song and wine, which are provided by the Fool and Maria. There is also some dancing and overall a very joyful attitude.
What conflict is established in this scene? The conflict between Malvolio and Maria/Sir Toby/Sir Andrew.
What metaphor from the Duke’s first appearance in Act I, scene i is revived in this scene? The metaphor of comparing music to love.
How are the Duke’s views on women and love developed in this scene? How does he contradict himself on this subject? He is moody and cannot focus on anything other than love, and he thinks than men change their minds more than women do.
What judgment(s) does Feste make on the Duke during their brief conversation? He states that the Duke is incredibly changeable and should go traveling because changeable men are successful on their voyages.
Based on what has been revealed about him up to this point in the play, does the Clown fulfill the traditional role of the fool in Elizabethan theater, or is he an unusual character? What character traits does he exhibit in this scene? He is rather unusual for a normal fool. He is rather wise and clever and does far more than just sing songs and tell jokes. He also gives advice and is far more humble and kind than many other characters.
In this scene, Sir Toby expresses admiration and affection for Maria. Compare Sir Toby’s feelings for Maria with the Duke’s love for Olivia. The Duke loves Olivia because she is the current object of his affections and she is noble and beautiful, whereas Sir Toby loves Maria because she is clever and cunning and smart and ready to knock Malvolio down a few pegs.
Sir Toby is frequently echoed by Sir Andrew in this scene. What does this mimicry reveal about Sir Andrew, and what effect does it have on the tone of the scene? It shows that he is not very clever and looks up to Sir Toby.
Does Malvolio love Olivia? How does he react to the letter, and why? HE does not love Olivia, but rather is infatuated with her and the idea that being with her would bring nobility and good favor to his name.
While imagining what he would do as Olivia’s husband, Malvolio envisions telling his servants “I know my place as I would they should do theirs.” What is ironic about this statement? Malvolio often oversteps his boundaries as a servant and does not know his place.
Identify and explain a form of word-play that appears in the dialogue between Viola and the Clown at the beginning of the scene. Viola and the Clown’s witty exchange at the beginning of the scene includes instances of both pun and ploce. An example of a pun occurs in Feste’s claim that he lives “by the church.” Ploce is found in subsequent lines, in the Clown’s use of the word “wanton.”
Identify a dramatic technique Shakespeare employs in this opening dialogue and what it reveals. This dialogue contains Viola’s aside, “though I would not have [hair] grow on my chin.” Using this device, Shakespeare allows Viola to convey her thoughts to the audience without betraying her secret to the Clown. Thus, she humorously emphasizes the dramatic irony of her situation.
Identify and explain two allusions used in this opening dialogue. The dialogue between Feste and Viola contains allusions to Jove and to the story of Troilus and Cressida. The first allusion simply substitutes Jove’s name for “God,” as Jove is the chief god in Roman mythology. Troilus, also, is a hero from Classical mythology. The youngest son of Priam, king of Troy, Troilus is ambushed and murdered by Achilles. Medieval versions ofthe Troilus tale add Cressida, and Pandarus. Pandarus is essentially a pimp, arranging for Troilus and Cressida’s liaisons. Therefore, Feste’s remark that he would “play Lord Pandarus” were he in the position of matchmaker is a lewd joke.
In previous scenes, the Clown has proved to be a very perceptive character. Does he recognize the fact that Cesario is really a woman in disguise? The Clown, though very perceptive and insightful, has found his match in Viola. He shows no sign of recognizing her as a woman. Thus, Shakespeare establishes the fact that, while appearing at times incredibly discerning, Feste is not omniscient, as Elizabethan fools sometimes were.
Why does Viola refer to herself as Olivia’s “fool”? What do she and the fool have in common, as emphasized in this scene? Like Feste, who is clever but must act the part of the fool, Viola finds herself compelled to play a role in order to please others and fulfill her duty. Viola and the Clown establish an amiable relationship at the beginning of the scene, and with this reference Viola cements the association between the two. Both characters exemplify the theme of playing a role in orderto fulfill societal expectations.
Identify the figurative devices used by Sir Toby in the phrase, “And they have been grand-jurymen since before Noah was a sailor.” What are the effects of figurative language in this passage? In this phrase, Sir Toby is referring to the ideas of “judgment and reason” referred to by Fabian in the previous line. Hence, when Sir Toby refers to these concepts as “grandjurymen,” he is personifying these abstract ideas. Note that this is also a metaphor—a comparison that does not use the words “like” or “as.” Another figurative device employed in this quote is allusion. Sir Toby alludes to the biblical figure of Noah, who built an ark to escape a catastrophic flood. This allusion indicates the extreme antiquity of the “grand-jurymen” in question. These uses of figurative language lend both humor and imagery to Sir Toby’s statement.
What does Maria mean when she says she has “dogged” Malvolio “like his murderer”? What effect(s) does this simile produce? In this phrase, Maria creatively describes the way she has been following and watching Malvolio. Using a simile, she compares herself to a murderer to give a sense of the intensity of her watchfulness. Maria implies that she is observing Malvolio as closely as she would if she were planning his murder. Equally important, the simile also signifies her animosity toward Malvolio and her sinister, destructive motive for watching him.
What might motivate Sir Toby to instigate a fight between Sir Andrew and Cesario? What does this action reflect about Sir Toby? Sir Toby attempts to instigate a fight between Sir Andrew and Cesario for the purpose of his own entertainment. His willingness to endanger the life of his friend for his own amusement adds a new degree of cruelty to Sir Toby’s persona.
Like Act II, scene i, this scene contains a dialogue between Sebastian and Antonio. What is different about the language of this scene, when compared to Act II, scene i, and why might Shakespeare have used language differently in these similar scenes? One difference between the two scenes that may account for the shift to poetry is that the latter deals with declarations of emotional bonds between Sebastian and Antonio, and poetry is a better medium for emotive expression. There is no exclusive answer to this question, but responses should demonstrate an understanding of the uses of prose and blank verse in Shakespeare’s works.
How does Malvolio’s situation in this scene reflect Olivia’s own situation? In this scene, Malvolio absurdly believes that Olivia’s behavior towards him—specifically her use of the word “fellow”—indicates her love for him. In reality, Olivia shows no signs of being pleased with Malvolio and even accuses him of being crazy. Likewise, in a previous scene, Olivia had interpreted Cesario’s frown as a sign of concealed love.
What new deception do Sir Toby, Fabian, and Maria devise against Malvolio in this scene? In this scene, the other characters speak to Malvolio as if he were possessed by a demon, attempting to make him question his sanity. Sir Toby also reveals his idea of binding Malvolio in a dark room, that resembles an asylum.
This scene contains an instance of the motif of messages. Identify letters and messages from this and other scenes. Thus far in the play, what do all the messages have in common? How does this fit in with the play’s main theme? Like all the previous letters in the play, Sir Andrew’s letter in this scene is meant to deceive. In this case, the content of the letter is inane and fails to achieve Sir Andrew’s purpose of intimidating his opponent. However, the common thread of the intention to mislead is present. To one degree or another, all the messages that have been sent, up to this point, fail to convey the truth. Beginning with Valentine’s message from Maria in Act I, scene i, characters use messages to create illusions. In this fi rst instance, Olivia depicts herself in a way that she hopes will inspire sympathy and approval. Later on, the Duke’s messages to Olivia exaggerate the depth of his feelings for her, which according to his conversations with Cesario are not as profound as he would have her believe. Later, Olivia sends a ring after Cesario under the pretext that he left it with her. Finally, in the most obvious example of deceptive messages, Maria writes the letter to Malvolio for the express purpose of duping him. Through the motif of misleading letters, Shakespeare reinforces the theme of deceptive appearances that can be found throughout the play.
According to Viola, what does Olivia’s passion have in common with the Duke’s? Olivia’s passion, like the Duke’s, is, in her own words, “such a headstrong potent fault…that it but mocks reproof.” Viola makes the comparison between Olivia’s passion and the Duke’s in the following lines, saying “With the same ‘havior that your passion bears/Goes on my master’s grief.” Thus, Viola suggests that both parties are so caught up in their own feelings that they are behaving recklessly, without regard for the opinions of others.
Identify each of the various situations of dramatic irony, in the order of their occurrence in this scene. This scene contains several instances of dramatic irony. First, Maria and the audience understand Malvolio’s odd behavior and manner of dress, while Olivia is perplexed by it, unaware of the letter. Next, Sir Toby, Fabian, and Maria speak to Malvolio as if he were mad or possessed by devils, and Malvolio does not understand why. Soon after, Viola enters, still successfully disguised as a man. Then, Sir Toby amuses himself by playing Sir Andrew and Viola against one another, while only the audience and Fabian are aware of the full extent of his trickery. Finally, Antonio enters the scene and mistakes Viola, in disguise, for her brother, while all but Viola mistake Antonio for a madman.
What might Antonio’s brief appearance in this scene foreshadow? During his brief appearance, Antonio mistakes Viola for Sebastian and even mentions her lost brother’s name. Thus, this incident foreshadows Sebastian’s reappearance.
What is the Clown trying to communicate with the speech that ends in “Nothing that is so is so,” and what literary device does he use? He is trying to communicate that he knows that Sebastian is not the same person as Cesario, and he knows that not everyone in the play is who they pretend to be.
What does Sir Andrew do upon meeting Sebastian? Why does he react thus? He engages in a fight with Sebastian, thinking he is Cesario. He does this because Sir Toby has convinced him to fight Cesario over his reputation and his ‘love’ for Olivia.
Upon discovering Sir Toby’s treatment of Sebastian, Olivia’s requests of the latter, “let thy fair wisdom, not thy passion, sway…” What is ironic about this statement? This is ironic because Olivia doesn’t often think things through and she often leads with her mind and her passion controls her. It is a rather hypocritical statement for her.
How does this scene suggest a resolution to one of the play’s main conflicts? Olivia thinks that Sebastian is Cesario, and she is in love with Cesario. She asks Sebastian/Cesario to come with her (presumably to be alone and perhaps get married), and he does. This brings an end to the conflict where Olivia is desperate to love Cesario.
To whom does Feste direct the exclamation, “Out, hyperbolical fiend!”? He addresses the explanation to the ‘demon’ or ‘devil’ within Malvolio, when in reality he knows that Malvolio is not insane.
How does Sir Toby feel about Malvolio’s predicament in this scene, and why does he have this reaction? He thinks that Malvolio’s predicament is quite humorous and that he deserves what he is getting. He thinks this way because of how Malvolio has always treated him and how he behaves and also just because Toby is a cruel man.
According to Maria, why does Malvolio fail to recognize Feste in his first appearance? Because he is in a dark room with no light and therefore could not see anything anyways.
What qualities does Sebastian praise in Olivia? Compare Sebastian’s comments about Olivia with the Duke’s. Sebastian praises Olivia’s leadership and confidence. He says she might be mad, because otherwise ‘She could not sway her house, command her followers, Take and give back affairs and their dispatch With such a smooth, discreet, and stable bearing.’
What does Olivia mean by the phrase “according to my birth”? How does her “birth” relate to the subject at hand? She means her heritage and the family she comes from as nobility. This matters to the subject at hand because she is expected to have a grand wedding due to her social status, although she is marrying Sebastian in secret now.
Identify the literary device(s) the Duke uses in the following passage. What does the Duke mean? ‘I’ll sacrifice the lamb that I do love, To spite a raven’s heart within a dove.’ The Duke means that he is willing to sacrifice Cesario’s happiness (because he thinks Cesario/Viola loves Olivia) in order to hurt Olivia. He says he will take Cesario/Viola from Olivia in order to get back, but also because he himself is developing feelings for Cesario/Viola. However, no one yet knows that Sebastian is also in Illyria and has secretly married Olivia, and that Sebastian and Cesario/Viola are not the same person.
How do the Duke’s feelings towards Olivia vacillate in this scene, and why? He goes from loving her and missing her to realizing that she has never loved him. He calls her ‘perverse’, ‘uncivil’, ‘ingrate and unauspicious’. He also states that maybe he should be like an Egyptian character who kills the woman he loves before he kills himself. He says he is savagely jealous and will take Cesario from her because he thinks Cesario loves her, and he is willing to hurt Cesario, whom he loves, in order to get back at Olivia.
How is the letter that appears in this scene different from previous messages and letters in the play? What function does the letter serve, in terms of plot development? This letter is different because all of the previous letters have been used in order to make Malvolio think he is crazy, whereas in this letter he desperately tries to prove his sanity. It also shows that he knows he has been tricked and deliberately hurt, although he thinks it was by Olivia and not Toby, Maria, Andrew, and Fabian. The letter functions as denouement and beings to show the resolution of the play.