Twelfth Night–Wrap Up

Ugh. I have literally put this off all day.

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So, at first I was thinking I would say how “time reveals truth” and quote Viola’s speech in Act II, then the revelations that take place in Act V. But, that’s a no brainier. It’s a comedy, for crying out loud. It’s not anything like the nature of Cymbeline’s revelations, and I’m not quite sure I have a solid understanding myself about what this reveals about truth itself, if anything at all.

So, what do we have here? Well, I really just want to pose a few questions about what’s in a name. The play’s name: Twelfth Night (it’s also called “What You Will,” but I don’t like that name as much, because this play is nothing that I would have willed.)

Sir Toby (however, on my Kindle edition, it’s Feste) sings, “O’ the twelfth day of December–“(II.iii.84 which is cut off by Maria. Now, songs are important, particularly in a play that begins speaking about songs and their relation to love. My inner Literature major is irking me to bring up the importance of December, the idea of the twelve days of Christmas (which would make sense that the play would be more happily named Twelfth Night, since the emphasis of the feast of the twelve days of Christmas deal with a particular night, revealing a particular truth, etc., etc.), but of course, that’s a knee jerk reaction from someone who’s trying to see beyond the face value of this play and having a difficult time.

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Well, “now that’s done, and I’m glad it’s over,” and tomorrow begins Two Gentlemen of Verona.

 

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Twelfth Night–Act III

I have something to say today! However, I’ve been reading the play on my Kindle (ah, gadgets! The devil’s kin) and I do not have my Arden to accurately cite lines, I will do my best for now, until I can get it and properly cite my sources.

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We open with the conversation between Feste and Viola, where the emphasis on Feste being a “churchman” has more to do with his location and place, rather than his lifestyle. In a similar vein, they discuss how “they that dally nicely with words may quickly make them wanton” (III.i.) which has helped this reader understand the undertones of the play better. There are three ways in which things are communicated (both truthfully and falsely) in the play.

  1. One on one meetings and private conversations–I have yet to see a scene where more than six characters are actually on stage at the same time
  2. The writing of letter. This is the main way Maria tricks Malvolio, and how Sir Andrew wishes to challenge Viola. Sir Andrew’s letter to Viola, of course, is not given to her, but communicated in a one on one conversation with Sir Toby
  3. Music. And it is only a slight indication of Olivia’s temperament (which I think she’s just ghastly) when she states, “I had rather hear you to solicit/Than music from the spheres” (III.i).

To finish my word tangent, I love Feste’s answer to Viola, “I can yield you none without words; and words are grown so false I am loath to prove reason with them” (III.i.). Which rings well with Olivia’s claim to him earlier that he has grown false–nevermind that Feste is by far the most honest of the characters in this play. Not to mention the fact that Feste and Viola are the only two who travel between both Olivia’s dwelling and Orsino’s.

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My last point deals with the nature of playing. As Viola says, “This fellow’s wise enough to play the fool” (III.i.), which is probably my favorite line in the universe of English literature. The nature of Feste’s playing continues,

And to do that well craves a kind of wit:
He must observe their mood on whom he jests,
The quality of persons, and the time,
And, like the haggard, cheque at every feather
That comes before his eye. This is a practise
As full of labour as a wise man’s art
For folly that he wisely shows is fit;
But wise men, folly-fall’n, quite taint their wit.

The art of the fool is his ability to read his audience, comparable to the art of wise men–maybe the art of a playwright or actor?–and that in his fooling he must need be more wise. How true of comedy, that which is humorous or comedic shows us more ourselves than a tragedy or perhaps even a sonnet.

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Lastly, we have the quip that Fabian states, “If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbably fiction” (III.iv.), in response to Malvolio’s absurd actions. Which stems from Maria’s letter, which he follows to the letter like it is its own law.

Until tomorrow.

Twelfth Night–Act II

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Now we meet Sebastian, Viola’s twin, about to find Duke Orsino…I look forward to seeing how that plays out, but we are left with that as a build up for later.

Meanwhile, there’s a building of a new deception–Maria’s fooling of Malvolio into thinking Olivia is in love with him! And we find the Countess fond on Viola, I stand corrected, Cesario…

I find this play to be one of the easiest to understand in the Shakespeare canon I’ve read so far. No one seems to have more than one motive for their actions. It actually confuses me more than if it were more complicated, because I can’t think that Shakespeare’s doing more than what he’s saying on the surface. But, drudge on I shall, and perhaps more will be able to be said at the end of Act III.

 

Twelfth Night–Introduction and Act I

My apologies for my absence, it began as a holiday for the holidays and swiftly converted into a sickness that left me in bed for over a week. That said, let’s talk about Twelfth Night (and look at this creepy picture I found).

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In a world set in the ancient Balkins ruled by Romans, we open with…Music! Of course, this rings a chord akin to Viola’s speech later, that she shall sing and speak to ol’ Orsino in “many sorts of music” (I.ii.58), which then begins her masquerade–as a man.

There’s only one real thing I can think to point out in this opening. Illyria is the Latin pronunciation of this land, and the only one speaking Latin is the clown Feste. Sir Toby mixes Spanish and French terms interspersed in his conversation, but he doesn’t seem to comprehend what he’s saying, while Feste responds to his own phrases in such a way that it displays a knowledge of the language said. At least, from my google translation work. Modern era translation, brought to you via the google cloud.

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Other than that, we have another play of girls pretending to be boys in order to trick and woo their appropriate match. And your input. Otherwise, I’ll have to wait to read the rest and watch it unfold until I can say more.