Twelfth Night, or What You Will Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton edition.
My masters, are you mad? Or what are you?
Have you no wit, manners, nor honesty, but to
gabble like tinkers at this time of night? Do you
make an ale-house of my lady's house, that you
squeak out your coziers' catches without any mitigation
or remorse of voice? Is there no respect of
place, persons, nor time in you? (2.3.87-93)
When Toby and Aguecheek get rowdy at Olivia's house, Malvolio is disgusted by their riotous behavior. By suggesting they have turned Olivia's house into an "alehouse" (a bar), and by comparing their singing to the clanging sounds of "tinkers" (tradesmen who mended household metal goods like cups and spoons), Malvolio suggests that Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are acting like unmannered commoners instead of members of the nobility. Toby is not only rude, says Malvolio, he's also breaking rules of social decorum.
SIR TOBY BELCH
Thou 'rt i' th' right.—Go, sir, rub your chain
with crumbs.—A stoup of wine, Maria! (2.3.118-119)
When Malvolio chides Sir Toby and crew for their bad behavior, Toby tells him to "go rub" his steward's "chain" of office (a chain worn to symbolize Malvolio's status as head servant, or "steward"). Here, Toby conveys that Malvolio has no right to scold his social betters. The dismissal is especially demeaning, as it suggests that Malvolio should go "rub" off.
There is example for 't. The lady of the
Strachy married the yeoman of the wardrobe. (2.5.38-39)
We learn of Malvolio's secret social aspirations when Toby and company eavesdrop on his private thoughts. The fact that we eavesdrop right along with Toby's crew and know all about Maria's forged letter seems to implicate us, as an audience, in the elaborate prank. In this way, our knowledge places us in cahoots with the mean-spirited jest.