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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 2, Scene 1 Summary

  • 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 sort of stumble upon these two in mid-conversation. Apparently, Sebastian's trying to get out of town and 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.)
  • Sebastian says something like, "Sorry man. It's not you, it's me. I'm in a really bad mood and I don't want to bum you out, so I think it's best for both of us if we go our separate ways. I would be a total jerk if I explained why I'm acting this way and unloaded all my problems on you – you don't deserve that so…"
  • Antonio cuts in and begs Sebastian to tell him where and why he's going away. (If you're thinking that this sounds a little like a break-up, you're totally right.)
  • 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," and 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 two hours after his ship sank and his sister drowned. (See what we mean when we say the details unfold?)
  • Antonio says that's just awful and 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 and 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 a heck of a lot more than Sebastian does. It's obvious that he's Viola's lost twin brother, but neither of the sibs 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. Hmm. We wonder what will happen next…)

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