Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Twelfth Night


Twelfth Night, or What You Will

(a Later Festive Comedy)

In Illyria, the Duke of Illyria, Orsino states he is sick in love with Olivia. Valentine reports to him, however, that she will not see him or any other man for seven years while she mourns the death of her father and brother (both died within the last six months). On the seacoast, Viola and her ship's captain come ashore after their ship sinks. Viola fears her twin brother Sebastian is drowned, but the captain thinks he saved himself by holding onto the floating mast. Upon learning that she is in Illyria, governed by Orsino, she convinces the captain to help disguise her as a male so that she may become a servant to Orsino, and it seems, perhaps try to win his love. At Olivia's house, her uncle, Sir Toby Belch, comes home late, drunk as usual, while Olivia's lady-in-waiting Maria lets him in. Soon, Toby's drinking buddy Sir Andrew Aguecheek shows up. Andrew tells Toby he'll head for home the next day, since Olivia won't let him woo her, but Toby convinces him to stay with them another month and promises to try harder to get Olivia to like him (Andrew). Back at the Duke's palace, he asks Viola (pretending to be a male servant named Cesario) to approach Olivia and woo her on his behalf. Viola (as Cesario) promises to do so, but privately reveals she will not try hard, since she desires Orsino. At Olivia's house, Olivia and her servant Feste (aka Clown) trade witticisms when Maria and Toby (drunk as usual) tell her Viola (as Cesario) is at the door. Learning Viola is come from Orsino, Olivia tells her steward Malvolio to send him away. Finally, though, she agrees to see Viola. Viola speaks to Olivia about Orsino and actually tries to tell her how to distance herself from him. While Viola speaks, Olivia actually starts to fall in love with her (as Cesario). When Olivia makes a pass at Viola, she quickly shuns Olivia off. After Viola leaves, Olivia even has Malvolio send her ring after her (as Cesario).

When Viola receives the ring from Malvolio, she realizes Olivia's new love for her and wonders how things will work out now that Orsino loves Olivia, Olivia loves Viola (as Cesario), and Viola loves Orsino. At the seacoast, Sebastian tells Antonio (the captain that rescued Sebastian, but not Viola) of his fears that Viola is drowned. Sebastian heads to Orsino's court, and, though Antonio knows he has enemies there, he follows Sebastian out of pity for his plight. At Olivia's house, Toby and Andrew drink into the night, while the clown entertains them. Maria appears and Toby starts flirting with her. Malvolio, though, shows up and tries to spoil the fun. After he leaves, Maria tells Toby, Andrew, and the Clown how she plans to trick Malvolio into thinking Olivia is in love with him by penning love letters to him in Olivia's hand. Separately, Andrew tells Toby he is running out of money while he tries to win Olivia, and if he fails, he'll blame Toby. At the Duke's palace, the clown sings songs of love, while Viola and Orsino discuss the qualities of love. Orsino bids Viola approach Olivia again with his greeting, even though Viola insists Olivia will not be moved. In Olivia's garden, Toby, Andrew, Olivia's servant Fabian, and Maria hide and listen to Malvolio pompously dream of his "impending" marriage to Olivia, the idea placed in his mind by Maria's deceptive letters.

Viola comes back to Olivia's house to talk to her for Orsino, but Olivia declares to Viola that she loves her (as Cesario). Andrew again announces he's leaving, but Toby and Fabian again convince him to stay, convincing him he should duel Viola (as Cesario) to impress Olivia to love him. Separately, Toby admits to Fabian he only keeps Andrew around to use his money for alcohol. Sebastian and Antonio arrive in Illyria and Sebastian decides to tour the town, then meet Antonio at the Elephant Inn. At Olivia's house, Malvolio approaches Olivia and makes advances to her, but she thinks him mad. When Toby, Maria, and Fabian appear, Malvolio treats them like they are base and he is royal, causing them to laugh uproariously behind his back. Andrew appears with his outrageously stupidly worded challenge to Viola and Toby promises to deliver it. Toby comes to Viola (who had been speaking with Olivia) and tells her (as Cesario) that Andrew, a most fierce and dreaded knight, has a quarrel with her and will duel her. This greatly fears Viola, but Fabian promises to try to calm Andrew. Separately, Toby tells Andrew that Viola is fierce and unstoppable. Toby gets the two to duel, both fearing the other, when Antonio appears and breaks it up, thinking Viola to be Sebastian. Officers of the Duke then appear and arrest Antonio by order of Orsino. Antonio, thinking Viola to be Sebastian, asks for the money back that he lent Sebastian earlier. Viola, not knowing what he means, denies she knows him (though offers him money on loan), angering him and calling her disloyal. The officers lead him away while Viola realizes the confusion and finds new hope that Sebastian is alive. After Viola leaves, Toby and Fabian egg Andrew on further to once again duel Viola (as Cesario).

Outside Olivia's house, the clown follows Sebastian around (thinking him Viola) insisting his name is Cesario and that Olivia desires to see him. This annoys Sebastian and he bids the clown to leave. Andrew then appears and strikes Sebastian (thinking him Viola/Cesario), but Sebastian strikes back at Andrew, scaring him. Toby, trying to keep Sebastian from Andrew himself duels Sebastian, until Olivia breaks it up. Sebastian immediately falls in love with her and they depart into her house together. In another part of the house, Malvolio is kept prisoner in a cell in the basement by Toby and Maria. The clown pretends to be a priest and visits him, but will not help him, and, rather, makes fun of him and calls him mad. In Olivia's garden, Sebastian ponders the amazement of the finding of his new love Olivia, then she and he go with a priest to the church to be married.

At Olivia's house, the Duke arrives and entreats the clown to let him see Olivia. While waiting, Antonio shows up with the officers and explains how he rescued Sebastian from the sea then helped him (actually Viola) in the duel. Orsino tells Antonio he is a pirate and not to be trusted since he helped steal one of Illyria's greatest battleships in the past. Olivia arrives and immediately starts doting on Viola (as Cesario), eventually calling her husband, shocking Viola and enraging the Duke. The Priest arrives and confirms the marriage between Olivia and Cesario (actually Sebastian). Andrew then appears and swears Cesario struck Toby alongside the head, wounding him, but Viola denies it. Toby appears, mad at Viola (thinking her Sebastian), but leaves to be bandaged. Finally, Sebastian appears and greets all, while both twins (he and Viola) are amazed and delighted that the other is living. Sebastian promises to keep his marriage to Olivia, and the Duke vows to marry Viola. Malvolio is brought forth from the cell and all learn of the trick played on him. Fabian and the Clown admit they, Toby, and Maria did it all in jest, and in return for Maria's help, Toby married her. However, Malvolio vows to be revenged on them all. The Duke calls his servants to calm Malvolio, and all depart happily.

Fan of this book? Help us introduce it to others by writing a better introduction for it. It's quick and easy, click here.

Recent Forum Posts on Twelfth Night

Toby and Maria

Those two have always been my very favorite couple. I can't begin to tell you how little pity I have for Malvolio, he is a little man, a would be social climber, and his ego needed downsizing for his own good. If Sir Toby had actually wanted to scam money, he could easily have married some woman with money. That was what almost everyone back then did! But Toby shows his lack of snobbery, and his brains by marrying a woman he can have fun with, and who will have his back, and who also happens to be as smart as he is. Thast a darn good choice. And you know that while Sebastian and Olivia barely know each other, and even Orsinio and Viola are going through a romantic stage, which may or may not end, the one marriage that is based on all the right stuff is that Of Lord and Lady Belch. All we know is that they leave and go back to Toby's estate, but its obvious they go back there to make a happy home. And Maria, I have heard her described as a gold digger, but thats not too logical. If she was sup[posed to be a gold differ we would see her trying it on with other noble men. She doesn't try to seduce Sir Andrew. She just had it for Toby. And why wouldn't she/ they fit perfectly, and she is a loyal type. What lucky people!

Culd Olivia be the alter ego of Viola?

Both female characters used a name with the same letters (diferent order though), both aren't trapped in anything but love (so they are smart and strong but can't do nothing against Cupido's arrows); both are trapped in a lie: Olivia is stuck in the main idealistic idea of love, so she loves to love; Viola is stuck playing like a man when she's a woman who would like to express her real love to Orsino and can't, what make them human, that is, touchable. Well, you will say.

Tragic hero,,

hi am asking about the tragic hero in N N>>??


Hi there! I am a Shakespeare enthusiast playing Fabian in a local production.... I also happen to be a woman. With a few tweaks to the lines it's not noticeable, but so as to not detract from the Viola-in-men's-clothes gag, we decided to play Fabian as a woman. Now the question remains..... what should we call her? Fabianna was my first choice, but it doesn't fit the meter. Any suggestions?

Joan of Arc in Twelfth Night

Hi there, I'm working on my dissertation which looks at Joan of Arc's influence in Twelfth Night and Henry VI part one. I'm looking for allusions to Joan of Arc in Twelfth Night at the moment. So far I've found these: * Viola shares many similarities with Jeanne díArc, she too was a strong, young woman who worked for and had a special relationship with royalty, the Duke of Orleans in Jeanne díArcís case, rather than Duke Orsino. * Illyria: ancient land once ruled by that other great warrior woman; Queen Teuta * Joan of Arc thought to be born on Twelfth Night * Joan also dressed as a man If anybody could add anything to this I would be very grateful. If anyone has any seful comments on Joan of Arc in Henry VI, that too would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Please help as soon as possible

What philosophical toughts are there in Feste's sppech to Olivia.It is in act 1 scene5 starting with "Two faults madonna...".Also what does it signify of Feste's character?How is the speech significant to the play?And what does it reveal of Olivia's character?Please reply quickly even if u can help in one of the answers i'd be grateful.

reviewing for exam, need help!

I need help with this because I am too great at understanding shakespeare... =/ Just a few questions I need answered! 1. Both Aguecheek and Malvolio are easily taken by practical jokes. List and describe two similarities in their characters which make them easy to trick. 2. Why does Sir Toby believe he can act as he wishes in Olivia's house? 3. Compare and contrast Viola and Olivia, backgrounds, personalities, behaviors, etc. 4. Example of a pun, malapropism, and foreshadowing the play. And if you know the Act and scene that would be great =) Hopefully I can get some help on here, I've tried looking for the answers but I'm having a lot of trouble. Thank you!

Twelfth Night*Shakespear* HELPPP!!

We are reading the Twelfth Night in Speech and im getting a little lost.. Please someone HELLPP!!! :flare: Thanks! ♥Brittany :D


anyone knows where i can find explanation for shakespeare's quotes? like : she sat like patience on a monument smiling at grief... and others... im not very good at interpreting his quotes :S

I Need Help With An Exam On This Book/play

Alright So Here's The Deal, I've Got An Exam Over This Book/play And I Really Really Need Someone Who Knows This Thing Very Well, Like Inside And Out To Possibly Help Me Through This Exam. I'm Not Looking For An Easy Way Out Of Doing My Own Work...ok Here's The Story I'm In Homeschool Right Now, I Was Supposed To Have Already Graduated But My School Is Extremely Slow On Sending Me My Work, And They Just Sent Me My Whole Senior Year Of English About A Week Ago...and Yet Im Supposed To Start College In Three Weeks. The College Has Agreed To Await My Transcript For A Later Date As Long As I Can Graduate B4 I Start My Classes. So Its Not That I Dont Want To Do My Work, Its The Fact That I Have 5 More Exams To Do (5 More Exams, An Exam With Each Book) And I Just Dont Have Time To Read Everything. So If There Is Anyone Out There That Is Willing To Help Me Out I Would Greatly Appreciat It, Im Not Asking For Someone To Give Me The Answers, Im Just Looking For Someone Who Can Point Me In The Right Direction For Them, So If You're That Someone Who Can Help Me Then Please Send Me A Message And Let Me Know Asap Please Please Please!!!! Im Desperate!!!

Post a New Comment/Question on Twelfth Night

Related links for William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare