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Twelfth Night Commentary - Act V.

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Act V. Scene I. - The Street before Olivia's House.

Sebastian to Olivia: "You would have been contracted to a maid...."

In the final scene, chaos ensues as the identical appearing Cesario and Sebastian are each blamed for the other's actions. First Feste blames Sebastian for beckoning him, not realizing it was Cesario who called for him.

Cesario spots Antonio, the man who saved Cesario from fighting Sir Andrew but was taken prisoner by Orsino's officers in Act III. Antonio again asks Cesario for his wallet back. Cesario does not give it back and so Antonio curses him for his betrayal not realizing he is talking to Cesario not Sebastian whom he lent his wallet to.

We learn that Antonio is an enemy of Illyria and especially of Orsino for plundering his ships as a pirate in the past. Now a prisoner, Antonio baffles Orsino by telling him that he and Cesario have been together night and day for three weeks.

Orsino can't believe this; Cesario has been with him for three weeks. Olivia arrives and we see that Orsino still loves her. The feeling is not mutual...

Olivia scolds Cesario for neglecting her, revealing that he is now her husband. Cesario (Viola in disguise) amazed by this, pleads his innocence to Orsino whom "he" truly loves and Orsino thinking his servant betrayed him by taking Olivia for himself prepares to punish Cesario. Olivia meanwhile despairs that her husband leaves willingly with Orsino to be punished rather than being with his wife and she too claims betrayal by Cesario.

Sebastian now arrives, apologizing for attacking Sir Toby and Sir Andrew. Orsino seeing both Cesario and Sebastian together is amazed that he sees two copies of the same man. Olivia too is amazed.

Sebastian and Cesario compare notes on how they arrived in Illyria each claiming that their sibling has drowned. Eventually they realize that since they knew the same father they are indeed brother and sister.

Malvolio storms in and the cruel prank against him is revealed by Fabian who confesses. Orsino calls Olivia his sister, and Orsino takes Cesario for his mistress and we presume later as his wife with Feste ending the play in song.

Act V and the final scene of Twelfth Night begins with Fabian asking Feste the Clown to let him see Malvolio's letter. Feste is reluctant, asking Fabian to "Do not desire to see this letter" (Line 7).

The Duke, Cesario (the still disguised Viola), Curio and several Attendants now arrive.

The Duke immediately recognizes Feste and asks him "how dost thou, my good fellow?" (how are you, my good fellow?), (Line 12).

Feste replies to the Duke, "Truly, sir, the better for my foes and the worse for my friends " (Honestly, Sir, I am better because of my enemies than my friends), (Line 13).

The Duke replies that Feste must surely be mistaken; does he not mean he is better off because of his friends? Feste however is adamant it is the other way around, replying to the Duke, "No, sir, the worse" (No sir, I am worse off for my friends), (Line 17).

Feste now explains to the Duke how this can be by saying:

Marry, sir, they praise me and make an ass of me; now my foes tell me plainly I am an ass: so that by my foes, sir, I profit in the knowledge of myself, and by my friends I am abused: so that, conclusions to be as kisses, if your four negatives make your two affirmatives, why then, the worse for my friends and the better for my foes."

(Marry, Sir, my friends praise me and then make a fool of me, whereas my enemies simply tell me I am an ass so through my enemies I benefit by learning about myself whereas by my friends I am taken advantage of. So to conclude I am better off for my enemies and worse off for my friends), (Lines 19-26)

The Duke, recognizing this quality riddle to be the mark of a good clown, tells Feste, "Why, this is excellent" (Line 27), Feste remarking that the Duke's compliment must make him one of Feste's "friends." The Duke tells Feste that unlike Feste's friends he will not be made worse off, tossing the Clown (Feste) a gold coin.

Feste and the Duke now exchange sayings (Lines 33-43).

Telling Feste that he will get no further gold from his actions, Orsino tells Feste to seek out Olivia and return with her, telling Feste "it may awake my bounty further" by which the Duke means Feste may earn more gold for his troubles (Line 47).

Feste now departs to seek out Olivia and Cesario (Viola in disguise) now notices the man he says rescued her, this being Antonio who arrives accompanied and guarded by several Officers.

The Duke too, remembers Antonio quite well, saying "when I saw it [Antonio's face] last, it was besmear'd [smeared] / As black as Vulcan in the smoke of war" (covered as black as the god Vulcan from the grime of canon fire), (Line 56).

The Duke remembers all to well that Antonio was the captain of a pirate ship that did much damage to the Duke's fleet, the Duke remembering "A bawbling vessel was he [Antonio] captain of, / For shallow draught and hulk unprizable; / With which such scathful grapple did he make / With the most noble bottom of our fleet," (A bawbling weak vessel, Antonio was captain of, with shallow draught or underwater clearance and a hulk not valued by many. Nonetheless he was able to do great damage to some of the best of my fleet (Lines 58-61).

The Duke (Orsino), despite his differences with Antonio, recognizes him as a great sailor and a worthy adversary by noting "That very envy and tongue of loss / Cried fame and honour on him" (the very reputation of my fleet's losses to him, cried fame and honor on him), (Line 62).

The First Officer accompanying the captured Antonio tells Orsino that his prisoner is indeed Antonio, the man who "took the Phoenix and her fraught from Candy;" (Line 65) a reference to Antonio stealing a ship, and also the same man who boarded the Tiger another ship in which Orsino's nephew Titus lost a leg (Line 66).

The First Officer explains that Antonio was found "Here in the streets, desperate of shame and state," or out of luck, where in a "private brabble did we apprehend him" or take Antonio prisoner (Line 69).

Cesario (Viola still disguised as a man) explains that Antonio defended her from Sir Andrew but then "put strange speech upon me:" by which she means, Antonio made no sense (Line 71).

We of course know why... Antonio thought Cesario was Sebastian and so his strange speech was merely Antonio requesting back his wallet. Cesario, not knowing that her brother is alive could not understand how Antonio could think he knows her but Antonio really is thinking that he was talking to Sebastian whom Viola disguised as Cesario, strongly resembles...

Orsino calls Antonio, "Notable pirate! thou [you] salt-water thief!" (Line 73) before asking Antonio why on earth he came to Illyria, a place so hostile to him "whom thou [whom you], in terms so bloody and so dear, / Hast [have] made thine [your] enemies?" Orsino asks (Line 75).

Antonio replies that "Antonio [himself] never yet [never was] was thief or pirate, / Though I confess, on base and ground enough, [for reason enough]" is "Orsino's enemy" (Line 78).

Antonio explains that "A witchcraft drew me hither:" (a witchcraft drew me here), (Line 80), Antonio explaining how "That most ingrateful [disloyal, ungrateful] boy there by your side," which Antonio thinks is Sebastian but is really Cesario, was saved by him and that Antonio exposed himself to the dangers of Illyria out of pure love for that man he saved which is of course, Sebastian not Cesario who is before him...

Antonio now explains that apprehended now in this "adverse" or dangerous town for him, Sebastian, his so-called friend denied him his purse which he earlier had lent to Sebastian "Not half an hour before" (not half an hour earlier), (Line 95).

Cesario (Viola in disguise), not understanding how Antonio can think "he" received his purse, was saved at sea by Antonio and then back-stabbed (betrayed) Antonio by not returning his purse, asks simply, "How can this be?" (Line 96).

Antonio tells the Duke that he came into Illyria today and that before this, he and the man he saved from the shipwreck (Sebastian who looks like Cesario) were together night and day for three months (Lines 97-100).

Olivia and her Attendants now enter, the Duke still in love with her, saying, "now heaven walks on earth!" (Line 101) but then tells Antonio that "thy [your] words are madness:" since, as Orsino explains, for the last three months "this youth hath tended upon me;" (this youth Cesario has served me), (Line 103).

Olivia now asks Orsino, "What would my lord, but that he may not have, / Wherein Olivia may seem servicable?" (What do you want my lord other than what you cannot have, which is me?), (Line 105).

Olivia now scolds Cesario, telling him, "you do not keep promise with me" or Cesario does not keep his word and presumably some meeting with her (Line 107).

Cesario, who did not marry Olivia as Sebastian did one scene ago, says "Madam!" completely surprised at what Olivia is implying of him since he has done everything possible not to have a relationship with Olivia.

Olivia now asks Cesario what he has to say, calling Cesario "my lord,-" (Line 110). Cesario (Viola in disguise), mindful that Orsino, nearby, still wants Olivia, tactfully replies, "My lord would speak; my duty hushes me" (Line 111).

A war of words now starts between Olivia and Orsino. Lady Olivia fires the first volley by telling Orsino, "If it be aught to the old tune, my lord, / It is as fat and fulsome to mine ear / As howling after music" (if you are still harping that old tune that you love me, you are wasting your time my lord, since it is as useless to my ear as howling after music), (Line 112).

Orsino replies "Still so cruel?" (Line 114), Olivia coldly replying "Still so constant, lord" (Line 115).

The Duke now deeply frustrated, tells Lady Olivia that since "I partly know the instrument / That screws me from my true place in your favour," (I know the instrument or person, Cesario who denies me your love), Orsino decides that he will destroy or tear Cesario out of Olivia's cruel eye where Cesario sits crowned in Orsino's hate for stealing Olivia's heart).

Orsino says this himself with the words, "Him [Cesario / Viola] will I tear out of that cruel eye, / Where he sits crowned in his master's [Orsino's] spite" (Line 132).

With growing menace, Orsino explains that he would hurt himself in sacrificing Cesario if it will hurt Olivia further and he tells Cesario, "Come, boy, with me: my thoughts are ripe [ready, full] in mischief; / I'll sacrifice the lamb [Cesario] that I do love, / To spite a raven's [Olivia's] heart within a dove" (Line 134).

Cesario (Viola), revealing "his" total love for Orsino, though "he" now faces certain harm, replies to Orsino, "And I, most jocand, apt, and willingly, / To do you rest, a thousand deaths would die", (I would most willing die a thousand times if it meant you could rest) and then follows Orsino (Line 137).

Olivia is amazed, wondering and angered that her love, Cesario is following Orsino and not her, not realizing that her love is really Sebastian, not Cesario.

Olivia, seeing Cesario leaving her, asks Cesario, "Where goes Cesario?" (Where are you going Cesario?), (Line 138).

Cesario (Viola) ironically replies to Olivia, that he loves Orsino, "More than I love these eyes, more than my life, / More, by all mores, than e'er [ever] I shall love wife" (more than I love these eyes, more than my life, more by all mores than ever I shall love a wife), (Line 139).

This last ironic comment is hardly surprising... As a woman disguised as a man, Cesario is unlikely to love a wife more than Orsino.

Olivia annoyed and thinking that Cesario has tricked her, says "Ah me, detested! how am I beguil'd!" (Ah, I am hated. I have been deceived!), (Line 143).

Cesario innocently asks Olivia who does her this wrong not realizing Olivia is upset that Cesario has married her and now betrayed her by pledging "his" loyalties to Orsino instead.

Olivia asks Cesario if he has forgotten himself; surely he remembers marrying her and tells Cesario "Call forth the holy father" (bring over the priest who married us), hoping that this will jog Cesario's memory when Olivia is really talking about Sebastian (Line 145).

A tug of war now occurs as Orsino tells Cesario to leave with him and Olivia says "Cesario, husband, stay" (Line 146). Cesario quite naturally asks "Husband?" wondering how this can be.

Olivia says yes, wondering how Cesario could deny this. Orsino, who wanted Olivia for his wife, also wonders how Cesario could have married Olivia (Lines 148-149).

Cesario (as Viola still in disguise) pleads "his" innocence and the Priest, Olivia called for to prove that Cesario is married to her, arrives.

Olivia not surprisingly, welcomes the Priest extremely warmly, asking him to reveal their marriage even though she says, she had intended to keep it a secret a little longer (Lines 154-159).

The Priest confirms that, yes Olivia and Cesario were married by him, the Priest, explaining that Olivia and Cesario's marriage was "A contract of eternal bond of love [marriage], / Confirm'd [confirmed] by mutual joinder [joining] of your [Olivia's and Cesario's] hands," (Line 161).

The Priest explains their private wedding further (Lines 162-166) and Orsino, upon hearing this, is understandably furious... The man, Orsino trusted to convey his love for Olivia married Olivia instead!

Orsino, furious, calls Cesario, his once trusted servant, "thou [you] dissembling cub!" (Line 168) before angrily telling Cesario "Farewell, and take her; but direct thy feet / Where thou and I henceforth may never meet" (take Olivia then, but direct your feet to ensure you and I from this time on, will never meet again) (Line 172).

Cesario (Viola), who only loves Orsino and would be more punished by losing Orsino than Olivia who "he" has not married, cries out, "My lord, I do protest," (My lord, I protest, don't say this), (Line 174).

Olivia, who loves Cesario, however tells Cesario not to worry too much about this (Line 175).

Sir Andrew Aguecheek with his head broken or held low, enters, pleading "For the love of god," for "a surgeon!" to be sent to Sir Toby who requires one (Line 177)

Olivia asks what's the matter and we quickly learn that "one Cesario:" (Line 184) has hit Sir Andrew across the head and "given Sir Toby a bloody coxcomb too" (has hurt sir Toby too, drawing blood), (Line 179).

Sir Andrew explains that though he thought Cesario was a "coward," instead "he's the very devil incardinate" (Line 186).

Sir Andrew, meeting Cesario complains to Cesario that "You broke my head for nothing!" and that what he did was because he was set upon Cesario by Sir Toby.

Cesario who did not fight Sir Andrew and Sir Toby (Sebastian fought them) says, "I never hurt you:" (Line 192) explaining that it was Sir Andrew who drew his sword on him for no good reason (Line 193) and that Cesario spoke fairly to him, and certainly did not hurt Sir Andrew and Sir Toby.

Sir Andrew disagrees, pointing out his wounds and that of Sir Toby's who now arrives (Lines 193-197).

Sir Toby Belch, drunk and led by Feste enters, Orsino asking Toby what's wrong with him (Line 201).

Sir Toby explains that he is hurt, Feste explaining that the surgeon Sir Toby now asks for has been drunk now for quite some time.

Feste: "O! he's drunk, Sir Toby, an hour agone [ago]: his eyes were set at eight i'[in] the morning" (Line 207).

Sir Toby, curses this news, hypocritically saying, "Then he's a rogue, and a passy-measures pavin. I hate a drunken rogue" (Lines 208-209).

Olivia, sick of Sir Toby's drunken ranting, orders him away and that his wounds be tended to. She also asks earlier "Who hath made this havoc with them?" (Who has done this to Sir Toby and Sir Andrew?), (Line 211).

Sebastian, the man really responsible for Sir Andrew's and Sir Toby's wounds, the man Olivia really married and the source of much confusion, finally enters apologizing first to Olivia for hurting her kinsman (Sir Andrew and Sir Toby), (Line 219).

Sebastian explains that what he did had to be done and that if it had been the brother of his blood, he would still have acted as he did with "no less with wit and safety" (Line 221).

Noticing that Olivia looks at him strangely, he says "You throw a strange regard upon me," (you are looking at me oddly), (Line 222), worried that he has somehow offended her and reaffirming that they did marry very recently.

Sebastian also shows his affection for Olivia by saying "Pardon me, sweet one, even for the vows / We made each other but so late ago" (Lines 224-225).

The penny now starts to drop as Orsino, still confused, but seeing both Cesario and Sebastian together who look virtually identical, remarks "One face, one voice, one habit, and two persons; / A natural perspective, that is, and is not!" (Line 227).

Sebastian, seeing Antonio, greets him warmly, explaining how "the hours rack'd and tortur'd [tortured] me / Since I have lost thee [you]!" (Line 228).

Antonio asks how Sebastian is, and Antonio seeing both Cesario and Sebastian, remarks that "An apple cleft [broken] in two is not more twin [similar] / Than these two creatures" (an apple split cleanly in two is not more twin or identical than these two men before me) before asking "Which is Sebastian?" (Lines 233-234).

Olivia, amazed at seeing two copies of Cesario whom she loves, exclaims "Most wonderful!" (Line 235).

Sebastian too is surprised, saying he never had a brother but that "I had a sister, / Whom the blind waves and surges have devour'd" (I have a sister who drowned at sea) before asking his doppelganger or replica how he is related to him (Lines 236-241).

Cesario (Viola) now answers Sebastian's question of "his" lineage by saying "his" country is "Messaline:", Sebastian was "his" father and he had a brother who was also called Sebastian and that this brother of his, "So went he suited to his watery tomb" or drowned at sea (Line 243), Cesario (Viola) describing Sebastian as a spirit since as Cesario reminds us, "spirits can assume but form and suit" to frighten whom they please, accusing Sebastian of doing exactly this.

Sebastian denies that he is a spirit and Cesario (Viola) says "his" father had a mole on his brow, Sebastian saying so did his and that he died when Viola was thirteen.

Cesario(Viola) now confirms that "he" is really a she and that as Viola, she will bring a captain into town to confirm her story including the fact that she disguised herself as a man (Lines 259-268).

Cesario makes "his" real identity as Viola abundantly clear by describing her masculine disguise as "my masculine usurp'd attire," (Line 260).

Viola also explains that disguised as a man, she was entrusted by Orsino to serve "this noble count" explaining that "All the occurrence of my fortune since / Hath [has] been between this lady [Olivia] and this lord" (Line 268).

Turning to Olivia, Sebastian tells her that "you have been mistook:" (you have been mistaken) and that "You would have been contracted [married] to a maid;" before telling Olivia, "Now are you therein, by my life, deceiv'd, / You are betroth'd [married] both to a maid [Viola] and man [Sebastian]" (Lines 269-276).

Orsino accepts Sebastian's explanation of events to Olivia, (Lines 274-276), telling Viola "Boy, thou [you] hast [have] said to me a thousand times / Thou [you] never shouldst [would] love woman like to me [as you do me]" (Line 277).

Viola for her part reaffirms her never-ending commitment to Orsino (Lines 279-282).

The Duke now asks Viola to "Give me thee thy [your] hand; / And let me see thee [you] in thy [in your] woman's weeds [in woman's clothes]" (Line 283).

Viola explains now that the captain who brought her to Illyria has her clothes and the need to find Malvolio arises since Viola explains that the captain has been kept a prisoner by Malvolio (Lines 284-287).

Olivia orders Malvolio to be brought to them, and Feste now enters with a letter.

Olivia asks Feste to read Malvolio's letter to her which he does before Olivia gives the strangely written letter to Fabian to complete its reading (Lines 300-323).

Olivia learns from Feste that Malvolio did indeed write the letter and asks Fabian that Malvolio be brought before her.

With Fabian gone on his errand, Olivia makes plans for a proper celebration pointing out that she is now a sister and a wife (wife to Sebastian, sister in law to Viola, Sebastian's sister), (Line 329).

Orsino graciously accepts Olivia's offer to have a celebration at Olivia's house at her cost, Olivia now telling Viola that for her duty to Orsino and her acting against her own nature (to act as a man) she will be her former master's (Orsino's) mistress (Lines 332-337).

Fabian returns with Malvolio, Malvolio telling Olivia that the letter she left for him which he has brought, clearly expressed her love to him and encouraged him to wear yellow stockings and to be cross- gartered and rude to Sir Toby and yet for all his trouble, he has been imprisoned, kept in a dark house, visited by a priest and generally been abused, asking Olivia why she has done this to him (Lines 342-356).

Olivia picking up the letter, immediately realizes that the handwriting is not hers but her servant Maria's (Line 359) and that now that she thinks about it, it was Maria who first told her Malvolio was mad, and then Malvolio arrived, acting according to this letter's instruction...

Olivia tells Malvolio not to worry since when the authors of this deception are known, she will let Malvolio be "both the plaintiff and the judge / Of thine own cause" (both accuser and judge of your own case), (Line 366).

Fabian now confesses that both he and Sir Toby "Set this device" or manipulation against Malvolio (Line 372).

Furthermore Fabian explains in detail that it was Maria who "writ / The letter at Sir Toby's great importance; / In recompense whereof he hath married her" (It was Maria who wrote the letter at Sir Toby's persuasion for which Sir Toby has married her as thanks or compensation), (Line 376).

Fabian comments now that what was once a mere prank or joke may well have become something more, expressing some remorse (Lines 277-380).

Olivia hearing this from Fabian, expresses sorrow for what has happened to the fool (Feste) with the lines, "Alas, poor fool, how have they baffled thee [you]!" (Line 381).

Feste responds, confirming that Olivia has addressed him, not Malvolio as is often mistaken, by telling Olivia that "'some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrown upon them" (Line 382).

Feste explains that he was temporarily great; he was after all a certain Sir Topas.

Malvolio now makes it quite clear that he is less than happy at being humiliated, when he exclaims, "I'll be reveng'd on the whole pack of you" before storming off, exiting our view for the last time (Line 390).

Olivia, hearing this, agrees with her steward, remarking that "He [Malvolio] hath been most notoriously abus'd" (He has been most terribly or notoriously taken advantage of or abused), (Line 391).

Orsino advises that Malvolio be pursued and calmed down since as Orsino points out, Malvolio has still not told them about the captain he has detained which we will remember has Viola's clothes (Lines 392-395).

Addressing Olivia now, Orsino tells her to stay here, addressing her as "sweet sister," by which he means he now sees her as his sister in law and nothing more.

Bidding Cesario to come closer to him, Orsino tells her while she is still clothed as a man she shall remain Cesario the man "But when in other habits you are seen, Orsino's mistress, and his fancy's queen" (but when you are seen in other habits or dressed as a woman, you will be Orsino's mistress and his fancy's or admirations's queen or the queen of his heart), (Lines 398-400).

All leave except Feste, who now alone, sings a five verse ( five part) song of life detailing the life of a young man from childhood through life ending in the first four verses with the same line "For the rain it raineth every day" suggesting the timelessness of nature which will exist long after each man has past away. The last verse announces the end of the play with the words "our play is done," ending with the lines "And we'll strive to please you every day."

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