Twelfth Night

Story of the Shakespearean Drama.

Orsino, Duke of Illyria, was madly in love with Olivia, a lovely countess. And when her brother died, she sent back a messenger from the Duke, instructing him to tell his master that for seven years she would not let even the air see her face but would walk veiled like a nun, all for the sake of a dead brother’s love, which she would keep alive in her sorrowful memory.

The Duke wished for someone to whom he could express his sadness and recount the tale of his love over and over again. And fortune provided him with such a friend. About this time, a magnificent ship ran aground on the shore of Illyria, and among the survivors were the captain and a beautiful young woman called Viola. But she was unhappy about being saved from the hazards of the sea, as she dreaded her twin brother Sebastian, who was as precious to her as the heart in her chest and so similar to her that they might have been mistaken for one another if not for their different styles of clothing. For her consolation, the captain informed her that he had seen her brother tying himself to “a large mast that floated on the water” and that there was still hope for his rescue.

Peasants Celebrating Twelfth Night (1635) by National Gallery of Art is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

Viola asked who ruled the kingdom she was in. When she found out that the young Duke Orsino was in charge and that he was as noble as his name, she decided to dress up as a man and get a job as a page for him.

This she accomplished, and she was now forced to listen daily to Orsino’s love tale. Initially, she felt deep pity for him, but this eventually evolved into love. Orsino finally understood that his doomed love affair with Olivia could perform better if he dispatched this handsome youth to court Olivia on his behalf. Viola reluctantly agreed to do this mission, but when she arrived at the home, Malvolio, Olivia’s steward, an arrogant, obnoxious man obsessed with self-love, as well as his mistress, denied the messenger entry.

However, Viola (now known as Cesario) refused to accept any denial and resolved to speak with the Countess. Olivia stated, “We’ll once again hear Orsino’s embassy” after learning that her orders had been disobeyed. She was excited to see this bold boy.

When Viola was admitted to her presence and the servants were sent away, she listened patiently to the reprimands this bold messenger from the Duke heaped upon her, and while listening, she fell in love with the supposed Cesario; and when Cesario had left, Olivia yearned to send a token of her affection after him. So she called Malvolio and instructed him to follow the youngster.

“He left behind this ring,” she said, removing one from her finger. Tell him I have no interest in it.

Malvolio did as he was instructed, and then Viola, who of course knew quite well that she had left no ring behind her, realized with a woman’s intuition that Olivia loved her. Then she went back to the Duke, extremely sad at heart for her beloved Orsino, for Olivia, and for herself.

Cesario waited by while Orsino listened to soothing music to soothe the pain of his rejected love.

“Ah,” the Duke murmured to his page that evening, “you have also been in love.”

“A little,” Viola said.

“What kind of lady is she?” he inquired.

“Of your complexion,” she said.

“How many years, I believe?” he inquired next.

The elegant response was, “About your years, my lord.”

“By God, too old for you!” said the Duke. “Let the lady have a senior all to herself.”

And Viola said quite submissively, “I agree, my lord.”

Eventually, Orsino pleaded with Cesario to see Olivia and present his love suit once more. However, in an attempt to discourage him, she stated:

“If a woman loved you as much as you love Olivia…”

“That cannot be,” said the duke.

“But I know what kind of love a woman may have for a guy,” Viola said. “My father’s daughter loved a man,” she said, blushing. “Perhaps, if I were a woman, I might adore your majesty.”

“And what is her background?” he inquired.

“A blank, my lord,” Viola said. “She never confessed her love, but allowed concealment to feed like a worm in the blossom on her damask cheek: she pined in contemplation, and with a green and yellow sadness she sat, smiling at pain, like Patience on a tomb.””Was not this actually love?”

“But, my boy, did your sister die of love?” The Duke inquired, and Viola, who had been declaring her own love for him in this charming form all along, replied—

“I am all the daughters my father has, and all the brothers.” “Sir, should I go to the lady?”

“To her right away,” the Duke said, ignoring the rest of the story, “and give her this diamond.”

So, Viola went, and this time, poor Olivia couldn’t hide her love and said it in public with such sincerity that Viola quickly left her, saying, “It’s too late!”

“I will never again bemoan my master’s tears for you.”

Viola did not anticipate the compassion she would have for the pain of others when she made her commitment. So when Olivia, in the intensity of her love, sent a courier pleading for Cesario to see her again, she had no heart to refuse.

Sir Andrew Aguecheek, a foolish, rejected lover of Olivia’s, was living at her home at the time with her jovial uncle, Sir Toby. His jealousy was inflamed by the gifts that Olivia spent on this simple page. This very same Sir Toby enjoyed practical jokes, and because he knew Sir Andrew to be a shameless coward, he believed that a combat between Sir Andrew and Cesario would be a rare sport indeed. So he encouraged Sir Andrew to send a challenge, which he personally carried to Cesario. Poor page exclaimed in profound terror:

“I shall return to the residence; I am not a fighter.”

Sir Toby said, “You shall not return to your home unless you fight me first.”

Viola determined that it would be prudent to await Sir Andrew’s arrival, since he seemed to be a very cruel old man. When he finally arrived, she drew her sword with nervousness, and Sir Andrew did the same out of fear. Fortunately for them both, at that time, court authorities arrived and prevented the arranged combat. Viola ran away as quickly as she could as Sir Toby yelled after her.

“A really poor youngster who is more coward than hare!”

Sebastian, meanwhile, had escaped the dangers of the sea and landed safely in Illyria, where he resolved to make his way to the Duke’s Court. On his way there, he passed Olivia’s home just as Viola had hurriedly left it, and he encountered Sir Andrew and Sir Toby. Mistaking Sebastian for the cowardly Cesario, Sir Andrew took his courage in both hands, walked up to him, and hit him while shouting, “This is for you.”

“Why, there’s one for you; and there, and there!” cried Sebastian, hitting back a great deal harder, and again, and again, until Sir Toby rushed to the rescue of his comrade. Sebastian, however, freed himself from Sir Toby’s grasp and, taking his sword, would have battled them both if Olivia had not heard about the dispute and, with many reprimands, ordered Sir Toby and his companion away. Then, moving on to Sebastian, whom she also mistook for Cesario, she implored him with several charming speeches to enter the home with her.

Sebastian, who was both confused and enchanted by Olivia’s beauty and grace, gladly agreed. They got married the same day, before Olivia realized that he wasn’t Cesario and before Sebastian knew for sure if he was dreaming or not.

Meanwhile, after hearing how ill Cesario was with Olivia, Orsino paid her a personal visit, bringing Cesario with him. Olivia received them both at her front door and, believing her husband to be there, scolded him for leaving her. To the Duke, she said that his suit was as wholesome to her as howling after music.

“Still so cruel?” replied Orsino.

“Still so constant,” she replied.

Then, when Orsino’s fury turned to cruelty, he resolved to murder Cesario, whom he knew she loved, to exact vengeance on her. “Come, young man,” he told the boy.

“A thousand deaths would die if I did you rest,” Viola murmured as he walked away.

A huge anxiety seized hold of Olivia, and she yelled loudly, “Cesario, husband, stay!”

“Her husband?” the Duke demanded indignantly.

“No, my lord, not I,” Viola said.

“Call out the holy father!” Olivia exclaimed.

The priest who had married Sebastian and Olivia said that Cesario was the groom as he walked in.

The Duke shouted, “Oh, you liar, you!” “Farewell, and take her, but go to a place where we will never meet again.”

At that time, Sir Andrew appeared with a gushing crown and said that Cesario had fractured his and Sir Toby’s heads.

“You pulled your sword on me, but I treated you fairly and did not harm you,” Viola replied in a very optimistic manner.

Even though she said she was telling the truth, no one believed her. When Sebastian came in, everyone was shocked.

“I apologize, madam,” he replied to his wife, “but I have harmed your relative.” Pardon me, darling, even for the vows we made so long ago.”

The Duke exclaimed, “One face, one voice, one costume, and two people!” as he looked first at Viola and then at Sebastian.

“A halved apple is not more identical than these two beings,” stated a person who knows Sebastian. What is Sebastian’s name?

Sebastian said, “I never had a sibling.” “My sister was consumed by the blind waves and surges.” “If you were a woman,” he told Viola, “I would let my tears fall on your face and say, “Twice welcome, drowning Viola!”

Viola then revealed that she was his true sister, overjoyed to discover her beloved brother was still alive. As she talked, Orsino felt an emotion similar to love: pity.

“Boy,” he replied, “thou hast told me a thousand times that thou shalt never love a woman as I do.”

Viola said, “I will vouch for the truthfulness of each of these proverbs, and I will attest to their accuracy.”

“Give me your hand!” Orsino joyfully said “Thou shall be my wife and the queen of my imagination.”

Thus, the gentle Viola was made happy, while Olivia found in Sebastian a faithful lover and a decent husband, and he found in her a faithful and devoted wife.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s