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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 Foolishness and Folly Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton edition.

Quote #4

Go thou and seek the crowner and let him sit o'
my coz, for he's in the third degree of drink: he's
drowned. Go, look after him.
He is but mad yet, madonna, and the Fool shall
look to the madman. (1.5.132-136)

Here, Feste points out that foolishness is a relative term when Olivia asks her "Fool" to look after the drunken and passed out Sir Toby Belch.

Quote #5

Take the Fool away.
Do you not hear, fellows? Take away the Lady.
Good madonna, why mournest thou?
Good fool, for my brother's death.
I think his soul is in hell, madonna.
I know his soul is in heaven, Fool.
The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your
brother's soul, being in heaven. Take away the fool,
gentlemen. (1.5.36-37; 64-70)

It's true that Feste is a professional Fool, but the play seems pretty intent on demonstrating that he is also the wisest figure in the play. Here, he deftly shows Olivia why she, not him, is irrational in her love for a dead brother.

Quote #6

Now, the melancholy god protect thee, and the
tailor make thy doublet of changeable taffeta, for thy
mind is a very opal. (2.4.80-82)

When Feste says Orsino ought to wear a "taffeta" doublet, he gives voice to the idea that Orsino is moody, fickle, and silly. (Taffeta is a fabric woven of various colored threads, which gives it an iridescent quality that changes color depending on the angle at which it's viewed.) If Orsino were to wear a taffeta coat, his costume would match his "changeable" mind, which has been made "melancholy" by the Duke's obsession with love. Shakespeare beats us over the head with the idea that love, especially the Duke's self-love, is utterly ridiculous.

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