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Twelfth Night Commentary - Act IV.

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Act IV. Scene I. - The Street adjoining Olivia's House.

Sebastian: "What relish is in this? how runs the stream? Or I am mad, or else this is a dream... If it be thus to dream, still let me sleep!"

Confusion reigns as Sebastian is now mistaken for Cesario (Viola in disguise) when Feste insists Sebastian sent for him and Sebastian is certain he did not (Cesario obviously did).

Sir Andrew finds Sebastian and thinking it is Cesario from the earlier "fight" that did not happen, hits Sebastian. Sebastian unlike Cesario is not afraid to return the favor and a fight is only stopped by Sir Toby's intervention.

Sir Andrew decides to have Sebastian punished by the law of Illyria despite the fact that he started the fight.

Sir Toby and Sebastian are just about to fight when Olivia screams for her uncle, Sir Toby to stop. Olivia scolds Sir Toby, hoping Sebastian, whom she thinks is Cesario, will forgive her uncle and not be displeased with her.

Sebastian, amazed that this beautiful woman he does not know, loves him, replies to Olivia that he will be ruled by her and the two set off to marry immediately...

Act IV opens amid confusion, with Feste the Clown insisting that he was sent for, Sebastian answering that he did not send for the clown. We quickly realize why Sebastian is certain he did not send for Feste and why Feste is equally certain he was sent for; Feste has mistaken Sebastian (Viola's or Cesario's brother) for Cesario. Sebastian not knowing his sister is alive under the guise of Cesario, was the one who sent for Feste (Lines 1-19).

Tiring of Feste's riddles (Lines 11-18), Sebastian tells Feste to "depart from me:" (leave), (Line 19), telling the Clown, "There's money for thee [you]: if you tarry longer [stay longer] / I shall give a worse payment" by which Sebastian means he will likely hit the Clown if he does not leave as paid to (Line 20).

The Clown happily accepts Sebastian's money and Sir Andrew now enters.

Mistaking Sebastian for Cesario, like the Clown did just moments earlier, Sir Andrew strikes Sebastian (Line 26), but Sebastian returns the favor hitting Sir Andrew whilst saying "Why, there's for thee, and there, and there, and there!" before asking "Are all the people mad?" since first Feste pretended to know him and now Sir Andrew attacks him for no reason (Line 29).

Sir Toby and Fabian now enter, Sir Toby threatening Sebastian to protect Sir Andrew from further beating (Line 30).

Feste, a silent witness to Sir Andrew's beating at the hands of who he thinks is Cesario (but is really Sebastian), says that he will "tell my lady straight" or immediately what has happened here (Line 32).

Knowing that Olivia will not be happy to learn that her much favored Cesario has fought Sir Andrew and argued with her uncle, Sir Toby, Feste says, "I would not be in some of your coats for twopence" (I would not be in your shoes for two pence once Olivia finds out that you have fought Sir Andrew and argued with Sir Toby) before leaving (Line 33).

Sir Toby now has Sebastian in his grasp but Sir Andrew decides to deal with Cesario (really Sebastian) in another way by making a charge of battery (assault) against Cesario instead. Sir Andrew points out that though he stuck first he is confident that the law of Illyria will be on his side (Lines 35-40).

Sebastian demands to be let go (Line 41) and despite Sir Toby's attempts, frees himself from Sir Toby's grip (Line 45). Sebastian warns Sir Toby that should he annoy him further, he will draw his sword, a clear threat that Sebastian will fight Sir Toby if pushed further (Line 47).

Sir Toby, angered by Cesario's (Sebastian's) cheek (arrogance), draws his sword to fight but Olivia now enters, shouting, "Hold, Toby! on thy life I charge thee, hold!", (Stop!, Toby, on your life I charge / command you, stop!), (Line 49).

Sir Toby replies "Madam!" and to Sir Toby's immense surprise, Olivia scolds him, describing him as a barbarian fit for a time when manners were never practiced and then telling him to leave her sight before telling her sweet Cesario (really Sebastian) to ignore Sir Toby's rude behavior...

Olivia: "Ungracious wretch! [to Sir Toby] Fit for the mountains and the barbarous caves, / Where manners ne'er [never] were preach'd [preached / practiced]. Out of my sight! Be not offended, dear Cesario. Rudesby, be gone!" (Lines 51-54).

Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Fabian now leave, and Olivia alone now with who she believes is Cesario (Sebastian), tells him to try to forget Sir Toby and company's recent actions (Lines 56-57), telling Cesario to "Go with me to my house, / And hear thou there how many fruitless pranks / This ruffian [Sir Toby] hath botch'd up" (come now to my house and hear how many worthless pranks Sir Toby has ruined), (Line 60).

Olivia tells Cesario (Sebastian) to not put her off again, saying "Do not deny" (Line 62) to Sebastian who wonders whether he is mad since he is being courted by a beautiful woman he does not know, who has just met him!

Sebastian makes this clear when he says "What relish is in this? how runs the stream? Or I am mad, or else this is a dream... If it be thus to dream, still let me sleep!" (if this is a dream that this beautiful woman courts me, let me keep sleeping / dreaming!), (Lines 64-67).

Olivia now tells Sebastian who she still recognizes as Cesario, "come, I prithee" (Please come with me) before asking "Would thou'dst be rul'd by me!" (Would you be ruled by me, a reference to marriage), to which Sebastian , clearly bewitched by Olivia's beauty, replies "Madam, I will" (Madam I will be ruled by you, yes I will marry you), (Line 69).

Olivia delighted that Cesario (Sebastian) has finally given in to her answers "O! say so, and so be! " (O! Say this and it will be / we shall get married) and the two depart for what we later learn is a priest to be married...

Act IV. Scene II. - A Room in Olivia's House.

Feste as the curate Sir Topas to Malvolio: "Fie, thou dishonest Satan!"

In Olivia's house, Malvolio in a darkened room is teased mercilessly by Feste who tries unsuccessfully to convince Malvolio that he is mad. Sir Toby, fearing that his fight with Cesario (Sebastian) has put him on thin ice with Olivia, wants Feste's teasing of Malvolio to stop. Feste has other ideas but eventually lets Malvolio write a letter to Olivia proclaiming his sanity...

Meanwhile in a dark room in Olivia's house, Maria and Feste the Clown enter. Ever since Malvolio's madness towards Olivia, Olivia had Malvolio placed in the care of Maria to ensure Olivia's staff could "have special care" (take care), (Line 70, Act III, Scene III) of Malvolio since his "midsummer madness" (Line 62 Act III, Scene III) while she pursued Cesario. We now realize that this meant confining Malvolio to a darkened room adjoining the one Feste and Maria are in.

Maria instructs Feste to put on a gown and beard so Feste can impersonate "Sir Topas, the curate:" and thus have some more fun at Malvolio's expense (Lines 1-12).

Feste does as he is told whilst Maria quickly summons Sir Toby so he too can enjoy a further humiliation of Malvolio on top of the yellow stockings cross-gartered episode earlier (Lines 1-12).

Feste now greets Sir Toby with the phrase "Bonos dies," before thoroughly confusing Sir Toby with pedantic mutterings in an attempt to sound highly intelligent like the real "Master parson," (Line 18).

Feste the Clown: "'That, that is, is;' so I, being Master parson, am Master parson; for, what is 'that,' but 'that,' and 'is,' but 'is?'" (Lines 15-19).

Sir Toby is thoroughly impressed with Feste's performance, saying "The knave counterfeits [fakes / pretends / impersonates) well;" and now in the dark, Feste enters Malvolio's darkened room (Line 23).

Malvolio asks who's there, Feste replying "Sir Topas, the curate, who comes to visit Malvolio the lunatic" (Line 25).

Malvolio completely believing that Feste is Sir Topas, tells the "Sir Topas, the curate," to go and fetch Olivia (Lines 25-28) but Feste accuses Malvolio of being obsessed with "ladies" (Line 30).

Malvolio now pleads that he is sane but Feste, describes Malvolio as "thou dishonest Satan!" (You dishonest Satan or devil), asking Malvolio if he thinks it is dark in his dark chamber (Line 36).

Malvolio says yes, and Feste takes the opportunity to suggest Malvolio is mad by pretending it is sunny (Lines 41-44), Malvolio pleading that he is not mad and the chamber is indeed dark (Line 45).

Feste won't have a word of it, telling Malvolio that he must be mad. Malvolio again claims he is being wronged, so Feste asks Malvolio what he thinks of Pythagoras' opinion on wild fowl (Line 56).

Malvolio answers that the theory means "That the soul of our grandam might happily inhabit a bird" (reincarnation), (Line 57).

Malvolio says he disagrees with the theory and Feste tells Malvolio unless he changes his mind, Malvolio will remain in darkness, Feste now leaving Malvolio (Lines 62-66).

Sir Toby is pleased and Maria adds that they really did not need the beard and gown since Malvolio could not see Feste anyway (Line 68)..

Sir Toby, the master of practical jokes, hypocritically tells Feste to speak to Malvolio "in thine own voice, and bring me word how thou findest him: I would we were well rid of this knavery" (in your own voice so the game ends and tell me in what condition you find Malvolio in: I would be happy if we were well rid of all this tomfoolery), (Line 72).

Sir Toby, worried that Olivia now has little patience for him now after he fought "Cesario" tells Feste to stop this game since as he puts it, "I am now so far in offence with my niece that I cannot pursue with any safety this sport to the upshot" by which he means he has so exhausted Olivia's patience, that if Olivia knew what he was doing to Malvolio, he would probably be kicked out by Olivia (Line 75).

Sir Toby and Maria now leave, but Feste has other ideas returning to Malvolio's chamber to torment Malvolio just a little more...

Ignoring Sir Toby's instruction, Feste torments Malvolio further by trying to convince Malvolio that not only is Sir Topas in the chamber but also a minister (Line 109). Despite his tormenting, Feste does however grant Malvolio's wish for some "ink, paper, and light;" (Line 120) so Malvolio can "set down to my lady:" or defend his sanity in writing to Olivia (Line 122).

Act IV. Scene III. - Olivia's Garden.

Sebastian: "I am mad / Or else the lady's mad...."

Sebastian can barely believe his luck, a beautiful woman (Lady Olivia) loves him and has given him a pearl. Sebastian briefly wonders if he is dreaming before he marries Lady Olivia in a private chapel. Olivia explains that their now secret marriage will be revealed later...

Within Olivia's garden, Sebastian is basking in the warm glow that is the love of the beautiful Olivia. Sebastian still can barely believe his luck, again convincing himself that this cannot be a dream, the pearl he was given is as real as the sun...

Sebastian: "This is the air: that is the glorious sun; / This pearl she gave me, I do feel't [feel it] and see't [see it]... Yet 'tis [it is] not madness" (Lines 1- 4).

Though pleased with his good fortune, Sebastian wonders where Antonio is since he could not find him at the Elephant (a lodging) as planned (Line 5).

Again Sebastian wonders if this could all be a dream (Lines 9-13) before wondering whether "I am mad / Or else the lady's mad:" (Line 15).

Sebastian quickly realizes however that this cannot be a dream for if it were a dream, Olivia "could not sway her house, command her followers, / Take and give back affairs and their dispatch / With such a smooth, discreet, and stable bearing / As I perceive she does" (Olivia could not run her affairs as smoothly as I can see she does), (Lines 17-19)

Nonetheless, Sebastian still has his suspicions about his good fortune, saying "There's something in 't [in it] / That is deceivable" (that is wrong, that I do not trust), (Line 20) before noticing Olivia arriving. (Line 21).

Olivia now arrives with a Priest, Olivia wanting to be married to Cesario (Sebastian) as quickly as possible.

Olivia is a little embarrassed by this since she tells Cesario (Sebastian) "Blame not this haste of mine" (Line 22) before telling Cesario that:

If you mean well, / Now go with me and with this holy man / Into the chantry [private chapel] by; there, before him, / And underneath that consecrated roof, / Plight me the full assurance of your faith; / That my most jealous and too doubtful soul / May live at peace.

(If you mean what you say, come with me now and this holy man into the private chapel where before him, under that holy roof, make your vows to me so my most jealous and doubtful soul can live in peace, certain that you love me), (Lines 23-28)

Olivia now tells Cesario (Sebastian) that their priest "shall conceal it" (their marriage) until they can celebrate their wedding properly as befits Olivia's social standing which she describes as "According to my birth" (Line 31) before asking Cesario (Sebastian), "What do you say?" (Line 31).

Sebastian still not believing his good luck, replies that he will happily follow the priest "And, having sworn truth [said his vows], ever will be true" (will always love Olivia and be true to his vows), (Line 33).

Olivia, overjoyed to hear this, happily pronounces "Then lead the way, good father [the Priest]; and heavens so shine / That they may fairly note this act of mine!" (Line 34).

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