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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 #10

Why, 'some are born great, some achieve greatness,
and some have greatness thrown upon them.' (5.1.393-394)

Here, Feste mocks Malvolio, who earlier quoted these lines from Maria's forged letter. We often think of the Malvolio sub-plot as being secondary to other issues in the play. There's historical evidence, however, to support the idea that many of Shakespeare's contemporaries found Malvolio's aspirations for social domination or "greatness" (via marriage to Olivia) to be the play's most central issue. What do you think? Is Malvolio the play's central figure?

History snack: In his copy of the Second Folio of Shakespeare's work, King Charles I (b.1600-1649) crossed out the title of Twelfth Night and wrote in Malvolio! as a replacement. (Note: The play was written around 1601-1602, when Elizabeth I ruled England. Still, it's cool to know that Charles read the play and thought enough about it, or himself, to change the title.)

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