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Twelfth Night, or What You Will

Twelfth Night, or What You Will


by William Shakespeare

 Table of Contents

Twelfth Night, or What You Will Gender Quotes

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

Quote #7

Too well what love women to men may owe:
In faith, they are as true of heart as we.
My father had a daughter loved a man,
As it might be, perhaps, were I a woman,
I should your lordship. (2.4.10)

OK, now this is more like it. Here, Viola defends the ladies to Orsino's claim that women are incapable of love and depth of feeling. We also like the crafty way Viola reveals her love to the Duke without him knowing that 1) she's in love with him and 2) she's her "father's daughter." Clever girl. Seems like women are capable of "retention" after all (see discussion of 2.4.16 above).

Quote #8

Go, Sir Andrew: scout me for him at the corner the
orchard like a bum-baily: so soon as ever thou seest
him, draw; and, as thou drawest swear horrible; for
it comes to pass oft that a terrible oath, with a
swaggering accent sharply twanged off, gives manhood
more approbation than ever proof itself would have
earned him. Away! (3.4.15)

When Toby tricks Sir Andrew into picking a fight with "Cesario" to impress Olivia, he gives voice to the notion that "manhood" is synonymous with "swaggering" and fighting. (It's so not. Keep reading.)

Quote #9

[Aside] Pray God defend me! A little thing would
make me tell them how much I lack of a man. (3.4.12)

When "Cesario" (Viola in disguise) prays that she doesn't get pummeled in the duel with Sir Andrew, she makes a joke about what she "lack[s]." Read alone, this passage would seem to suggest that being born with a penis somehow predisposes one to picking and winning a fight. However, given the fact that Sir Andrew was born with a penis and is a total coward, it seems that the play is pointing out that one's sex doesn't necessarily determine whether or not someone will be brave.

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