Twelfth Night by William
Shakespeare
Comedy
Definition – a comedic play has at least one humorous character, and a
successful or happy ending.
 Characteristics of …
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The main action is about love.
The would-be lovers must overcome obstacles and misunderstandings
before being united in harmonious union. The ending frequently involves
a parade of couples to the altar and a festive mood or actual celebration
(expressed in dance, song, feast, etc.) Twelfth Night has three such couples.
 Frequently (but not always), it contains elements of the improbable, the
fantastic, the supernatural, or the miraculous, e.g. unbelievable
coincidences, improbable scenes of recognition/lack of recognition, willful
disregard of the social order (nobles marrying commoners, beggars changed
to lords), instantaneous conversions (the wicked repent), enchanted or
idealized settings, supernatural beings (witches, fairies, Gods and
Goddesses). The happy ending may be brought about through supernatural
or divine intervention (comparable to the deus ex machina in classical
comedy, where a God appears to resolve the conflict) or may merely involve
improbable turns of events.
 In the best of the mature comedies, there is frequently a philosophical
aspect involving weightier issues and themes: personal identity; the
importance of love in human existence; the power of language to help or
hinder communication; the transforming power of poetry and art; the
disjunction between appearance and reality; the power of dreams and
illusions).
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Twelfth Night: What does the title
refer to?
The play was written as a Christmas season
production for presentation on Epiphany – the
twelfth night after Christmas, when, according
to religious tradition, Jesus was introduced to
the world.
 It is a time for celebrating, gifts are exchanged,
and parties and other celebrations occur.
 The full title of the play is Twelfth Night, or,
What You Will – i.e. “Call it anything you
choose.”
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Twelfth Night
Type of work: play
(Shakespeare also wrote: poetry)
 Genre: comedy
 Time written: between 1600-1602
 Place written: England
 Tone: Light, cheerful, comic; occasionally frantic and
melodramatic, especially in the speeches of Orsino and
Olivia.
 Tense: Present (the entire story is told through dialogue)
 Setting (time): Unknown
 Setting (place): The mythical land of Illyria (Illyria is a
real place, corresponding to the coast of present-day
Yugoslavia, but Twelfth Night is clearly set in a fictional
kingdom rather than a real one.)
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Twelfth Night Characters:
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Viola (a.k.a. Cesario)
Duke Orsino
Olivia
Sebastian
Malvolio
Feste
Sir Toby Belch
 Maria
 Sir Andrew
Aguecheek
 Antonio
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1. Viola
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woman
A young ___________
of aristocratic birth.
Washes up on the shore of Illyria when her ship
wrecked
is ___________
in a storm, she decides to
maker her own way in the world. She disguises
man
herself as a _______,
calling herself “Cesario,”
and becomes a page to Duke Orsino. She ends
falling in love
up ___________
with Orsino, while the woman
Orsino loves, falls in love with Cesario. Now she
finds herself trapped: she cannot tell Orsino that
she loves him and she cannot tell Olivia why
she, as Cesario, cannot lover her. Her dilemma
is the central conflict to the play.
2. Duke Orsino
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romantic
A __________
nobleman in the country of
Illyria
__________.
He is lovesick for the beautiful
Lady Olivia, but finds herself more and more
fond of his handsome new page, Cesario, who is
woman
actually a __________
- Viola. He mopes
around complaining how heartsick he is over
Olivia, when it is clear that he is chiefly in love
idea
being in love
with the _________
of _______________
and
enjoys making a spectacle of himself.
3. Olivia
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witty/intelligent
A _____________,
beautiful, and noble Illyrian lady, she
is __________
by Orsino and Sir Andrew Aguecheeck,
disgusted
but to each of them she insists that she is in
mourning
brother
__________
for her __________,
who has recently
died
marry
7
__________
and will not __________
for _____
years.
She and Orsino are similar characters in that each seems
misery
to enjoy wallowing in his or her own __________.
Viola’s
arrival in the masculine disguise of Cesario enables Olivia
to break free of her self-indulgent melancholy. Olivia
seems to have no difficulty transferring her affections
love interest
from one _______________
to the next, however,
suggesting that her romantic feelings – like most
emotions in the play – do not run terribly deep.
4. Sebastian
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twin brother
Viola’s lost ____________.
When he
arrives in Illyria, traveling with Antonio,
his close friend and protector, he
discovers how many people seem to think
know him
that they ____________.
Furthermore,
the beautiful Lady Olivia, whom he has
marry him
never met, wants to ____________.
5. Malvolio
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The straitlaced head servant in the household of
Lady Olivia. He is very efficient but also very
self-righteous
____________,
and he has a poor opinion of
singing
joking
drinking, __________,
and __________.
His
haughty attitude earn him the enemies of Sir
Toby, Sir Andrew, and Maria who play a cruel
trick
__________
on him, making believe that Olivia
is in love with him
__________________.
In his dreams about
marrying his mistress, he reveals a powerful
social standing
ambition to rise above his _________________.
6. Feste
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clown
fool
The _________
or __________
of Olivia’s
household; he moves between Olivia’s and
makes his money
Orsino’s homes. He ________________
by making pointed jokes, singing old
songs, being generally witty, and offering
good advice
___________
cloaked under a layer of
sarcasm
__________.
In spite of being a
fool
professional __________,
he often seems
the wisest character in the play.
7. Sir Toby Belch
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Sir Toby
uncle
Olivia’s __________.
Olivia lets ___________
Belch lives with her, but she does not
approve
dancing/singing
__________
of his rowdy behavior, __________,
heavy drinking, late-night carousing, or friends
(specifically the idiotic Sir Andrew). He also
earns the anger of Malvolio, but he has an ally,
mate
and eventually a __________,
in Olivia’s
witty
__________
serving-woman Maria. Together
they bring about the demise/downfall
__________ of the
controlling, self-righteous Malvolio.
8. Maria
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loyal
witty
Olivia’s __________,
__________,
young
serving-woman. She is remarkably similar
to her antagonist, Malvolio, who harbors
rising in social class
aspirations of _______________
through
marriage
__________.
She succeeds where
Malvolio fails.
9. Sir Andrew Aguecheek
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“friend”
A __________
of Sir Toby’s. He attempts
court
to __________
Olivia but he doesn’t
stand a chance
_______________.
He thinks he is witty,
strong
smart
__________,
__________,
and good at
dancing
languages and __________,
but he is
idiot
actually an __________.
10. Antonio
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A man who rescues Sebastian after
shipwreck
Sebastian’s __________.
He is very fond
of Sebastian, caring for him,
accompanying him to Illyria, and
money
furnishing him with __________.
He is
also an enemy of Duke Orsino.
Other characters…
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Fabian – servant to Olivia; friend to Maria, Sir
Toby, and Andrew. Assists in the practical joke
on Malvolio.
Valentine – gentleman attending to the Duke
Curio – gentleman attending to the Duke
Priest - (named Sir Topas); he marries Olivia to
“Cesario;” he is impersonated by Feste.
Captain (sea captain) – assists Viola (helps
disguise Viola as Cesario)
A Closer Look at the play…
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Plot Summary: In Twelfth Night, as in
most of his works, Shakespeare has
several different plot-lines going on at the
same time. He expertly weaves these
separate stories together throughout the
play. As the play begins to move towards
its conclusion the different stories begin to
converge until they all come together for a
resolution in the final scenes.
Dramatic Structure
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Problem
Major Conflict (__________):
Viola is in love with Orsino,
who is in love with Olivia, who is in love with Viola’s
male disguise, Cesario. This __________
love triangle is complicated
by the fact that neither Orsino nor Olivia knows that
woman
Cesario is really a __________
(Viola).
Rising Action
confusion
_____________:
The mounting __________,
mistaken identities
professions of love
___________________,
and _______________,
leading
up to Act V.
Climax
Sebastian
Viola
reunited
__________:
__________
and ________
are ________,
and everyone realizes that Cesario is a woman.
Falling Action
prepares to marry
___________:
Viola _______________
Orsino; Malvolio
vows revenge
is freed and _______________.
__________________:
Denouement/Resolution Everyone goes off to celebrate.
Themes
suffering
Love
__________
as a cause of _________
 The uncertainty of gender
folly
ambition
 The _____
of __________
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As you read the play, explore the Common
Motifs (Patterns in Shakespeare’s plays)
1.
2.
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5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
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Contrasting worlds
Rise of one person at the expense of another
Disguise and deceptions
The supernatural
Redemption / reconciliation
Disorder yields to order
Comic relief scene
Parallel characters / foils
Eavesdropping
Explore how each device occurs in the play?
What significance does it have in the overall plot or to the overall
theme?
Shakespeare’s Language
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The language Shakespeare used is an early form
of Modern English that is different from today’s
English in a variety of ways. The following list,
with examples from Twelfth Night, describes
some characteristics of Shakespeare’s English.
Whereas some of the following practices were
observed in everyday speech, others were poetic
conventions. Shakespeare often used
contractions or omitted syllables in order to
maintain the meter.
Shakespeare’s Language cont’d.
1.
Shakespeare frequently made contractions of words that we write
separately today. He also dropped letters, particularly vowels, at
the ends of words and in the ending –est.
Orsino: ’Tis [it is] not so sweet now as it was before. (1.1.8)
Toby: She’ll none o’ [of] th’ [the] Count. (1.3.104)
Toby: O knight, thou lack’st [lackest] a cup of canary! (1.3.79)
Andrew: And you love me, let’s do’t [do it]. I am dog at a catch.
(2.3.61)
* Remember: if you see the apostrophe ( ’ ), then something has been
omitted.
Shakespeare’s Language cont’d.
2.
Shakespeare omitted entire unstressed
syllables or consonants from the beginning or
middle of words.
Viola: Whoe’er [whoever] I woo, myself would
be his wife. (1.4.42)
Malvolio: Were not ev’n [even] now with the
Countess Olivia? (2.2.1)
Shakespeare’s Language cont’d.
3. Shakespeare used many words (such as the adverbs hence,
thence, whence, hither, thither, and whither and the
pronouns thy, thou, thee, and thine) that we no longer or
rarely use today. Words that have dropped out of the
language are called archaic.
Olivia: Whence [from what place] came you, sir?
(1.5.175)
Duke: Then let thy [your] love be younger than thyself
[yourself], ( 2.4.36)
[hence – from now; thence – from that time or place; whence – from
what place?; hither – to this place, nearer, from here; thither – there;
whither – from where?] [thy –your; thou – you; thee – you; thine –
yours; prithee – please; Ay – yes; ho – look there]
Shakespeare’s Language cont’d.
4. Archaic words include forms of verbs with
endings such as –th and –st, as well as
irregular verb forms such as spake
(spoke).
Olivia: Why, how dost [do] thou, man?
What is the matter with thee? (3.4.2425)
Shakespeare’s Language cont’d.
5. Shakespeare freely used words as
different parts of speech, sometimes
inventing words in the process.
The following slides are words and phrases
credited to Shakespeare…
The human condition can be difficult to capture through words, especially when the English language
is limited. In Shakespeare’s time, there simply wasn't a single word for "lonely" or "generous."
So Shakespeare did what any person in search of the right word does in times of crisis: He made
them up. He is credited for making up over 3,000 words. Here are some words that Shakespeare is
credited with inventing:
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accused
addiction
advertising
aerial
alligator
amazement
arouse
articulate
assassination
bandit
beached
bedroom
befriend
besmirch
birthplace
blanket
blushing
bloodstained
bump
buzzer
caked
cater
champion
circumstantial
cold-blooded
compromise
countless
courtship
critic
critical
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daunting
dawn
deafening
demure
discontent
dishearten
dislocate
dwindle
educate
elbow
entomb
epileptic
equivocal
excitement
exposure
eyeball
fashionable
fixture
flawed
frugal
generous
gloomy
gnarled
gossip
gust
hint
hobnob
hoodwink
hurried
hurry
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impartial
impede
investment
invulnerable
jaded
label
lackluster
lapse
laughable
leapfrog
lonely
lower
luggage
majestic
marketable
metamorphize
mimic
misplaced
monumental
moonbeam
mountaineer
negotiate
noiseless
numb
obscene
obsequious
ode
olympian
outbreak
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pander
pedant
premeditated
radiance
rant
remorseless
savagery
scuffle
secure
submerge
summit
swagger
torture
tranquil
trickling
undress
unreal
varied
vaulting
wappened
worthless
zany
Shakespeare also spent many of his hours trying to come up with that almost agonizingly appropriate
phrase for some of his thoughts. After all, what are words but minds at play?
Below is a long laundry list of the common phrases Shakespeare is credited with inventing (yes, he
invented every phrase he wrote, but these are the ones that have lasted into current
slang/prose/language):
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all corners of the world
All that glitters is not gold
as ____ as the day is long
as luck would have it
band of brothers
blinking idiot
budge an inch (or not)
catch cold
charmed life
dead as a doornail
devil incarnate
didn't sleep a wink
eat me out of house and home
fair play
fancy free
flaming youth
fool's paradise
forever and a day
for goodness' sake
foul play
give the devil his due
good riddance
green-eyed jealousy
high time
hoist by your own petard
household word
in a pickle
in stitches
in the twinkle of an eye
into thin air
It's Greek to me
laughing stock
love is blind
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make haste
method to one's madness
neither here nor there
no rhyme or reason
off with his head!
Oh woe is me
one fell swoop
play fast and loose
primrose path
rotten to the core
seen better days
send one packing
short shrift
sink or swim
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some
have greatness thrust upon them
sorry sight
sweets to the sweet
the game is afoot
the game is up
the long and short of it
there's the rub
tongue tied
too much of a good thing
tower of strength
Tut, tut!
under the weather
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown
What a piece of work is man
What is past is prologue
what the dickens
wild goose chase
your own flesh and blood
Shakespeare’s Language cont’d.
6. Shakespeare also inverted his sentences (that is, he rearranged the parts of
a sentence). Presently, the normal sentence structure is Subject +
Predicate [Subject + verb + complements].
Shakespeare rearranged the parts of the sentence (i.e. by placing the
complements before the subject or verb) in order to meet the meter or to
emphasize one word or part of the sentence over another [also it was
common practice in his day].
For example:
Olivia (Shakespeare): Under your hard construction must I sit, / To force
that on you in a shameful cunning / Which you knew none of yours. –
3.1.117-119
Olivia (Rearranged): “I must sit under your hard construction [harsh
interpretation] to force that on you in a shameful cunning which you knew
none of yours.”
[Modern translation: You probably think poorly of me after I forced that
[ring] on you with such outrageous trickery.]
Let’s practice translating Shakespeare’s
Language to today’s English…
Rewrite these lines from Othello in today’s English, replacing the
italicized, archaic words and spellings with more modern forms.
1. Andrew: By my troth, the fool has an excellent breast. ... ’Twas very
good i’ faith. I sent thee sixpence for thy leman. Hadst it? (2.3.1926) By my truth (I swear), the fool as an excellent breast…It was very good
in faith. I sent you sixpence for your leman. Did you have/get it?
2. Toby: Th’ art i’ th’ right. (2.3.118)
You are in the right.
3. Olivia: I prithee tell me what thou think’st of me. (3.1.140)
Please tell me what you think of me,
4. Clown: Nay, I’ll ne’er believe a madman till I see his brains.
(4.2.119-120)
No, I will never believe a madman until I see his brains.
5. Sebastian: Fear’st thou that, Antonio? (5.1.222)
Do you fear that, Antonio?
Tools for The Text: Paraphrase
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Reading a Shakespeare play can be a daunting task. Shakespeare's language can make it
difficult to lose yourself within its pages. However, there are a few tools you can use to help
break down the text into something more understandable and enjoyable.
The first tool is called Paraphrasing. This is when you take the text and put it into your own
words. This is not only a useful tool for reading the language, but it is the primary method of
deconstructing the text by the Shakespeare Festival's artists. Although the words used 400 years
ago are similar, their meaning was quite different.
Examine the following lines from the very beginning of Twelfth Night, when Duke Orsino
demands more music, hoping it will cure his lovesickness.
If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again. It had a dying fall;
O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odor. Enough, no more.
'Tis not so sweet now as it was before.
One possible paraphrase might read:
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If it's true that music is the food of love, keep playing. Give me too much so I'll be stuffed and I won't want
it any more. Play that bit again! It definitely had the right sound to make my appetite die. It sounded as
sweet as a breeze that blows across a patch of violets. Taking their scent and giving it to me. Stop, that's
enough. It's not as sweet as it was before.
Tools for the Text: Imagery
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Another great tool to further and deepen your understanding of Shakespeare is imagery. These are the pictures
that Shakespeare paints with specific words. Just as pictures go through your mind when you read a book,
Shakespeare used even more profound words to create very powerful images.
Let's look at Duke Orsino's monologue again:
If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again. It had a dying fall;
O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Take a look at the words in bold. Step one is to write down the first few images that come into your mind:
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Food:___________________________________________________________
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Love:___________________________________________________________
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Excess:_________________________________________________________
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Sicken:_________________________________________________________
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Dying:_________________________________________________________
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Sweet:_________________________________________________________
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Breathes:_______________________________________________________
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Violets:_________________________________________________________
Now ask yourself what those images mean to you. How do they make you feel? What kind of actions do they
make you want to do? What words effect you most?
Now that you've found some personal connection to these words, say the monologue out loud and allow those
images to fill your mind. Allow them to effect you and your audience as you speak.
Tools for the Text: Iambic
Pentameter
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Take a look at the monologue we used in the previous two examples. Did
you notice a rhythm to the lines when you said them? Did you notice that
the first letter of every line is capitalized? This is because Shakespeare
chose to write much of his text in Iambic Pentameter. You'll find many
explanations for what this means, but one simple way is to say that each
line has 10 syllables - 5 stressed and 5 unstressed. Here is an example:
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Count the syllables. You can see that it has 10 syllables. Now we will break
the line up into smaller sections that have two syllables. These sections are
called feet:
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If music be the food of love, play on,
If mu
sic be
the food
of love,
play on,
Watch out when breaking a line into feet. You'll notice that sometimes a
word can be broken up (like mu-sic). Now, within each foot there is usually
one stressed and one unstressed syllable. In Iambic Pentameter, the
second syllable in a foot usually gets the strong stress.
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If mu sic be the food of love, play on,
Tools for the Text: Iambic
Pentameter cont’d.
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One easy way to remember how the stresses work in Iambic Pentameter is that is
sounds like you were to say "eye-am" five times. Try it:
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There are several reasons why Shakespeare used this form for his writing. One was
because of it's beautiful sound and the strong rhythm which is similar to the beating
of the human heart. Another was that Iambic Pentameter is very close to the normal
rhythm of every day conversation. This helped the actors memorize their lines since,
400 years ago, they only had a few days of rehearsal before performing a play.
Another was that it gives the actor the choice as to which words are more important.
When an actor goes through his/her script to mark the feet and decide what syllables
get the stresses it is called scanning the script. Try it:
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I am I am I am I am I am
If mu sic be the food of love, play on,
Give me ex cess of it, that, sur feit ing,
The app et ite may sick en, and so die.
That strain ag ain. It had a dy ing fall;
Did you make every other syllable strong? Or did you decide that some syllables were
more important than others? This is one thing that makes acting Shakespeare so
unique. The actor gets to choose what words and phrases are important.
Tools for the Text: Variations to
Iambic Lines
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Not all Shakespeare lines are alike! He loved to break the rules in order to give instruction to the
actors or make the lines more interesting. Sometimes you'll find line of text that has less than 10
syllables. If you look closely you might find a line right after it that is short as well. When you
combine them, do they make 10 syllables? Here is an example where Olivia confesses her love to
Viola.
Viola: I pity you.
Olivia: That's a degree to love.
This is an example of a shared line. The combination of the syllables suggests to the actors that
these two lines really work as one. Therefore the actor knows the stage direction is that the actor
playing Olivia should speak right away after Viola's line without pausing- she should "jump her
cue".
But what about a line with more than 10 syllables?
Viola: I am all the daughters of my father's house.
A line with 11 syllables contains what we call a feminine ending. This suggests that the
character is in such a heightened emotional state that they are trying to cram extra words into
their line.
FYI: There are many different theories about how Iambic Pentameter should be used. Some
scholars believe that there can only be five strong or stressed beats per line. Many classical
actors and directors believe that you can scan a line in any way you want and that the only
way to tell is by trying it out loud. Basically what scanning comes down to is: What works for
you? What makes the most sense to you and gives you the best connection? Hopefully you can
use these tricks to help bridge the 400 years between Shakespeare and you.
Modern Translation of Twelfth Night
Sparknotes has a modern translation of
Shakespeare on-line: No Fear
Shakespeare.
 http://nfs.sparknotes.com/twelfthnight/
 It’s a good idea to re-read the sections
that were read in class using the Modern
translation.
 From Act I, Scene 1, it looks like this…

Original
ORSINO If music be the food of love, play
on.
Give me excess of it that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again, it had a dying fall.
Oh, it came o'er my ear like the sweet
sound,
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odor. Enough, no
more.
'Tis not so sweet now as it was before.
O spirit of love, how quick and fresh art
thou,
That, notwithstanding thy capacity
Receiveth as the sea, nought enters
there,
Of what validity and pitch soe'er,
But falls into abatement and low price
Even in a minute. So full of shapes is
fancy
That it alone is high fantastical.
Modern
(paraphrase)
ORSINO If it’s true that music makes
people more in love, keep playing.
Give me too much of it, so I’ll get sick
of it and stop loving. Play that part
again! It sounded sad. Oh, it sounded
like a sweet breeze blowing gently
over a bank of violets, taking their
scent with it. That’s enough. Stop. It
doesn’t sound as sweet as it did
before. Oh, love is so restless! It
makes you want everything, but it
makes you sick of things a minute
later, no matter how good they are.
Love is so vivid and fantastical that
nothing compares to it.
Quotations: Who said it?
If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
So full of shapes is fancy
That it alone is high fantastical.
The element itself, till seven years' heat,
Shall not behold her face at ample view;
What country, friends, is this?
Be you his eunuch, and your mute I'll be:
When my tongue blabs, then let mine eyes not see.
By my troth, Sir Toby, you must come in earlier o' nights:
Confine! I'll confine myself no finer than I am:
these clothes are good enough to drink in;
Whoe'er I woo, myself would be his wife.
Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage;
The lady bade take away the fool; therefore, I say again, take her away.
I marvel your ladyship takes delight in such a barren rascal:
Make me a willow cabin at your gate,
And call upon my soul within the house;
Unless the master were the man. How now!
Even so quickly may one catch the plague?
Quotations: Who said it? cont’d.
I left no ring with her: what means this lady?
Fortune forbid my outside have not charm'd her!
O time! thou must untangle this, not I;
It is too hard a knot for me to untie!
Come hither, boy: if ever thou shalt love,
In the sweet pangs of it remember me;
It gives a very echo to the seat
Where Love is throned.
There is no woman's sides
Can bide the beating of so strong a passion
As love doth give my heart;
I am all the daughters of my father's house,
And all the brothers too:
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some
have greatness thrust upon 'em.
This is the air; that is the glorious sun;
This pearl she gave me, I do feel't and see't;
Do I stand there? I never had a brother;
You shall from this time be
Your master's mistress.
And thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenges.
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Twelfth Night - Deer Park ISD