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Twelfth Night, or What You Will

Twelfth Night, or What You Will


by William Shakespeare

Twelfth Night, or What You Will Act 1, Scene 1 Summary

  • Hanging out in his court in Illyria, the moody Duke Orsino listens to the live band he keeps around on retainer and talks about love. At first, he says he can't get enough of music because it really puts him in the mood for lovin'. But, in the very next breath, Orsino tells the musicians to get lost – he's sick of music and 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 gushes that the thought of killing Bambi 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 get lost.
  • Olivia's also sent the Duke a little message – she's really bummed about her dead brother, so she's decided to mourn for the next seven years. (Yep, you read that right. She's going to mourn for seven years.) This will involve traipsing around her place in an all black getup, complete with a dark veil and big, salty tears that will splash all over the ground.
  • When the clueless Orsino hears this, he says he admires Olivia's devotion to her family and 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. (We're not making this up. Orsino really runs around talking like this.)

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