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 ye
no wit, manners, nor honesty, but to gabble like
tinkers at this time of night? Do ye make an
alehouse of my lady's house, that ye squeak out your
coziers' catches without any mitigation or remorse
of voice? Is there no respect of place, persons, nor
time in you? (2.3.1)
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' the right. Go, sir, rub your chain with
crumbs. A stoup of wine, Maria! (2.3.18)
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. (2.5.2)
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.