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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 Lies and Deceit Quotes

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

Quote #7

Well, I'll put it on, and I will dissemble myself in
't, and I would I were the first that ever dissembled
in such a gown. (4.2.4-6)

Feste's light-hearted crack about wearing a curate's costume to trick Malvolio suggests that, like everyone else, clergymen and other moral officials can be fraudulent. The point is that putting on an official costume doesn't necessarily make one virtuous.

Quote #8

FESTE, as Sir Topas
Maintain no words with him, good
fellow. As Feste. Who, I, sir? Not I, sir! God buy 
you, good Sir Topas. As Sir Topas. Marry, amen.
As Feste. I will, sir, I will. (4.2.104-107)

This scene can sometimes be confusing for readers because it's hard to tell from the play script that Feste switches back and forth between his own voice and the voice of "Sir Topas" during the prank on Malvolio. Feste's ability to "do voices" (like Robin Williams or Jim Carey) requires a ton of skill. Disguising one's voice is never easy but carrying on a dialogue singlehandedly requires even more artistic chops. Want more than our appreciation of this character? OK. Feste's "Sir Topas" dialogue demonstrates that spoken language is not unlike costume when it comes to disguising one's identity. How we dress, pose and speak all play a role in how other people perceive us.

Quote #9

O, welcome, father.
Father, I charge thee, by thy reverence
Here to unfold (though lately we intended
To keep in darkness what occasion now
Reveals before 'tis ripe) what thou dost know
Hath newly passed between this youth and me. (5.1.158-163)

Here, Olivia asks the priest to confirm her marriage to the person she believes she married. (She has married Sebastian but thinks she wed "Cesario.") What interests us here is the language Olivia uses to describe the secret wedding that wasn't supposed to be revealed until later. She speaks of the secret as though it is an "[un]ripe" fruit or vegetable that must come to light prematurely. We can't help but notice that Olivia uses the same concept of ripeness as she did back in Act 3, Scene 1, when she promised not to sleep with the too young "Cesario" because his "youth" had not yet "come to harvest" (he had not yet reached puberty). You can also compare this passage to our discussion of 1.5.7 (under the theme of "Gender"), where Malvolio compares "Cesario" to an unripe peapod.

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