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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: April ::
Re: Anagrams in Twelfth Night
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0833  Tuesday, 18 April 2000.

[1]     From:   John Drakakis <
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        Date:   Monday, 17 Apr 2000 17:37:56 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 11.0815 Re: Anagrams in Twelfth Night

[2]     From:   Edmund M. Taft <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 18 Apr 2000 00:14:32 +0000
        Subj:   Anagrams in TN


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <
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Date:           Monday, 17 Apr 2000 17:37:56 +0100
Subject: 11.0815 Re: Anagrams in Twelfth Night
Comment:        RE: SHK 11.0815 Re: Anagrams in Twelfth Night

It's all Greek to me.

Yours sincerely,
John Drakakis

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund M. Taft <
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Date:           Tuesday, 18 Apr 2000 00:14:32 +0000
Subject:        Anagrams in TN

David Bishop's continuation of the "code" begun with "MOAI" yields
"MOAILLVO," indicating that Malvolio is "ill"-hardly surprising given
that this is Illyria we are in!  He secretly wishes others ill (his name
means that), and they, in turn, react by wishing him "ill," illustrated
most perhaps by Maria, who, ironically, stands to profit and rise from
Malvolio's fall.

More generally, it may be that the near anagrams in this play point out
that illness in some form attends every lover in this play.  Orsino
wants second-hand love; Malvolio wants to rise in station by means of
love; Olivia starts the play too much in love with a dead brother;
Viola's love contains at least a hint of masochism (See 5.1.130-131);
Sir Andrew, like Orsino, lives a vicarious life of second-hand love;
Maria and Sir Toby love each other because each admires how the other
uses people to further personal ends; Sebastian's love is opportunistic;
and, interestingly, a case can be made that Antonio's love for Sebastian
is the purest and the most powerful in the play-though I grant that the
same case can be made for Viola's love.  But even Antonio is "ill" in
that he is reckless in pursuit of his love.

Interestingly, a lot of the love in this play is associated with death:
Olivia's, Aguecheek's, Antonio's, Orsino's (in 5.1, and theoretically,
throughout the play), and also Malvolio's (after all, what kind of
revenge will he take?)  His earlier punishment for "lunacy" was sensory
deprivation, the equivalent of a "living death."

Love may be a kind of madness and a kind of illness, but it is a
universal way to both fight and experience death!  In a way, Malvolio is
the figure of death (dressed in black) in this play, the killjoy who
ruins the party by telling us that it's time to pack it in.  In turn,
Maria and the others, allegorically, try to trap/kill death, but he
escapes in the end and, appropriately for death, promises to be revenged
on everybody!

HE WILL KEEP HIS PROMISE!  (You can count on it.)

--Ed Taft
 

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