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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 Society and Class Quotes

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

Quote #7

Marry, I saw your niece do more favors to the
count's servingman than ever she bestowed upon
me. I saw 't i' th' orchard. (3.2.4-6)

Sir Andrew is clearly annoyed that Olivia isn't interested in marrying him. Here, it also seems that Olivia's apparent desire for a mere "serving-man" ("Cesario") is also something that rubs Andrew the wrong way. This may partially explain why Andrew's so easily convinced to challenge "Cesario" to a duel.

Quote #8

You can fool no more money out of me at this
throw. If you will let your lady know I am here to
speak with her, and bring her along with you, it
may awake my bounty further. (5.1.37-40)

Feste is quite good at getting people to empty their pockets. Here, he's appreciated for his comedic and linguistic chops but he is also treated like an errand boy who might get a nice tip if he fetches Olivia. It's hard for us to imagine that someone like, say, the brilliant Will Ferrell would be forced to run errands for chump change, but that's exactly what happens in this play. Some critics suggest that passages like this one self-consciously point to the way entertainers and performers (like Shakespeare and his colleagues) were regarded as mere servants or worse. (Note: In the movie Shakespeare in Love, the scene where Lord Wessex nearly runs down a group of performers with his horse perfectly captures this attitude.)

Quote #9

Be not amazed; right noble is his blood.
If this be so, as yet the glass seems true,
I shall have share in this most happy wrack. (5.1.276-278)

It's not entirely clear why Duke Orsino says this to Olivia after the Countess learns that she has married Sebastian and not "Cesario." It seems that Orsino's just as concerned with marriages between social equals as Toby Belch. (See our discussion of 1.3.21 above.) Is Orsino saying that Olivia shouldn't feel bad about marrying the wrong person because Sebastian is a member of the nobility, like her? Is a marriage among social equals really so important to the Duke? And why does Orsino immediately follow the assertion by saying "if this be true" he's going to marry Viola? Does this suggest that the only thing holding back Orsino from hooking up with "Cesario" was "Cesario's" status as a servant? Lots of questions and lots of possible answers. Have at it.

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