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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 5 Summary

  • In Olivia's garden, Toby and Aguecheek hang out with Fabian, who worries that he'll get in trouble again if he helps them trick Malvolio, who got him in trouble earlier for holding a bear-baiting contest at Olivia's place. (Bear-baiting was a popular Elizabethan blood sport, where bears were tied up to a stake and forced to fight unleashed dogs.)
  • Toby Belch says not to worry – they'll make Malvolio pay for being such a drag.
  • Maria enters and tells the men to hide behind a tree because Malvolio is coming. Then she throws the forged letter on the ground for Malvolio to find.
  • Malvolio enters the garden talking to himself. First he says he thinks Maria wants him and then he fantasizes about being married to Olivia, which would make him a Count who could boss around Sir Toby and his raucous little crew. Toby and Aguecheek can hardly contain their laughter and their anger at Malvolio's audacity.
  • The fantasy continues as Malvolio daydreams about fondling some expensive jewels and lecturing Toby for his drunkenness.
  • Malvolio finds the letter and thinks right away that it's written in Olivia's handwriting. He thinks the letter is meant for him because it spells out M-A-O-I, all letters that appear in the name Malvolio. (Boy, that's some cracker-jack detective work.)
  • The letter instructs Malvolio to pick fights with Toby and company, wear yellow stockings with cross-garters, and smile at everything, even when Olivia's in a sad mood. Malvolio is all over this and runs off to change his clothes.
  • Toby is psyched – Maria's plot is so clever that he's tempted to marry her.
  • Maria enters and gloats about her evil genius plan. Malvolio is sure to make a fool of himself while annoying Olivia to no end.

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