The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0492 Friday, 19 March 1999.
Date: Thursday, 18 Mar 1999 10:51:31 -0600
Subject: 10.0488 What did Feste Know, and when did he know it?
Comment: Re: SHK 10.0488 What did Feste Know, and when did he know it?
Pete McCluskey asks:
>In 3.1 of Twelfth Night, Feste and Viola-as-Cesario converse briefly,
>culminating in Viola's "Wise enough to play the fool" speech. Although
>I have seen the play twice, studied it in three different classes, and
>taught it several times myself, I have not encountered the suggestion
>that Feste, in fact, recognizes Cesario as a woman. After rereading the
>scene with this notion in mind, I was struck by the ironic possibilities
>underlying their exchange (most notably Feste's begging a second coin by
>promising to "play Lord Pandarus"). Do any list members know if this
>suggestion has been made? And if it hasn't, is there anything to it?
>(Take a close look at the scene before replying-much of it deals with
>role reversal, inversion, fooling (role-playing?), and, of course,
>gender ("now Jove, in his next commodity of hair, send thee a beard").
>Feste, of course, knows quite a bit about fooling people while
>concealing his own nature; perhaps Viola's "Wise enough" speech is her
>acknowledgment that he has recognized her own charade.
The Acting Company, now touring with Tartuffe and Twelfth Night, played
Twelfth Night (directed by Penny Metropulos) here at Wabash College just
last night. In this scene, Feste (played by Christopher Jean) playfully
pushes Cesario/Viola (Charity Jones) away with one hand against her
chest, then looks quizzically at his hand and at her, at which point she
realizes that he's just figured it out, which she signals by pulling her
coat around her more tightly. The subtext for the rest of their
exchange is her money for his silence.
It was one of the more charming moments in the performance, next only to
Olivia's (Rayme Cornell) "Most wonderful!" when Sebastian and Olivia
confront each other as mirror images. Everyone else on stage was
amazed, but Olivia simply delighted to see TWO husbands!