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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: October ::
Re: Sir Toby
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2280  Wednesday, 3 October 2001

[1]     From:   Bob Grumman <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 02 Oct 2001 16:48:41 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2268 Re: Sir Toby

[2]     From:   Paul E. Doniger <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 2 Oct 2001 21:40:28 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 12.2268 Re: Sir Toby

[3]     From:   Graham Hall <
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        Date:   Wed, 03 Oct 2001 10:34:21 +0000
        Subj:   Small silly fascist bird. (5/3)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bob Grumman <
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Date:           Tuesday, 02 Oct 2001 16:48:41 -0400
Subject: 12.2268 Re: Sir Toby
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2268 Re: Sir Toby

My impression was always that Maria was lower socially than Toby, but it
seems to me the important thing is that Twelfth Night is a Romantic
Comedy.  Hence:

(1) The more marriages at the end, the better;

(2) the good, like Maria, should end well; and, most important,

(3) Toby's hitching up with Maria is beautifully and complexly comic in
that it is, in a way, a kind of come-uppance to Toby, himself a former
cynic now victimized by emotions to the extent that he's marrying
down--or, really, to the extent that he's even marrying at all, and thus
submitting his anarchic tendencies to social containment).  But at the
same time Toby is rewarded/redeemed by his match to a superior woman; we
laugh at him but are glad for him, too--and glad for a world in which
such "inappropriate" weddings as his can occur.

--Bob G.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul E. Doniger <
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Date:           Tuesday, 2 Oct 2001 21:40:28 -0400
Subject: Re: Sir Toby
Comment:        SHK 12.2268 Re: Sir Toby

I agree with Don Bloom that Sir Toby and Maria "are completely dependent
on the countess for leading a genteel existence. ... If Olivia and her
new husband were to be unforgiving, Sir Toby and Lady Maria Belch could
find themselves in considerable trouble."  I, too, "prefer to assume ...
that Olivia and Sebastian kept them on," but for very different reasons.
Both Sebastian and Olivia are truly noble, not only by birth, but in
character.  Their forgiveness of Sir Toby and Maria for their pranks
(which really did no serious harm to the status quo -- and perhaps, in
the long run, not even to Malvolio, who needed a lesson) would be a
classic example of nobility of character.

On the other hand, I find it difficult to agree with Edmund Taft's
suggestion "Maria is a social climber, and her plot against him
[Malvolio] clears the way for her own 'rise.' When she so completely
'baffles' Malvolio, she wins the heart of Sir Toby and, perhaps more
important, "earns" her new status as kinsman (by marriage) to Olivia."

It seems to me that Maria and Sir Toby had relationship long before she
invents her 'device', as there are a number of suggestions early in the
play that they are intimate (not the least of which is the familiarity
of their tones of speech with each other). Maria seems quite concerned
with Sir Toby's drinking, not just too keep him from damaging his
relationship with his niece, but for his own health as well; she also
seems to want him to spend more time "at home" and less with Sir Andrew.
I have always suspected that they have had a long standing affair.

Paul E. Doniger

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Hall <
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Date:           Wed, 03 Oct 2001 10:34:21 +0000
Subject:        Small silly fascist bird. (5/3)


>Don Bloom writes:

>Maria takes up the hint and
>begins acting like a pert and flirty serving girl, even putting his hand
>right on her breast ("butt'ry bar").
>
> Just to get it off my chest:

Not necessarily......although this interpretation seems to be awfully
popular! There is no support from Partridge, Williams or Rubinstein.
Most modern editions are equally silent about any mammary manoeuver and
play the gloss safe with an offer to kiss or bar carpentry. New Variorum
(1901) cites an 18C source as proverbial involving an invitation to kiss
and provide a present. This would fit with taking Sir A for a
(financial) ride. Lest I be accused of taking the fun out of rehearsals,
there is one source that glosses a point due south of the chesticles -
which accords with"dry" being a hint at Bartholin's gland and amorous
(lubricated) hand and Sir A's chances with Maria.

But that's enough o' that!!

Best wishes,
Graham Hall

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