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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: October ::
Re: Sir Toby et al.
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2406  Monday, 22 October 2001

[1]     From:   Brian Haylett <
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        Date:   Friday, 19 Oct 2001 16:41:41 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2369 Re: Sir Toby et al.

[2]     From:   David Bishop <
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        Date:   Friday, 19 Oct 2001 16:52:16 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2390 Re: Sir Toby et al.


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Haylett <
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Date:           Friday, 19 Oct 2001 16:41:41 +0100
Subject: 12.2369 Re: Sir Toby et al.
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2369 Re: Sir Toby et al.

I don't think it has been mentioned in this discussion that Twelfth
Night is the climax of the Feast of Misrule, during which all values can
be turned topsy-turvy. In such a time, Maria can aspire to Sir Toby and
Malvolio to Olivia, Orsino can love himself, Olivia can grab the nearest
lookalike to Cesario, etc, etc. The ending of this season can also
explain the 'fall' of Feste and the melancholic conclusion.

True, the play never mentions Twelfth Night after the title, but the
events do seem well-suited to such a theme.

Brian Haylett

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Bishop <
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Date:           Friday, 19 Oct 2001 16:52:16 -0400
Subject: 12.2390 Re: Sir Toby et al.
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2390 Re: Sir Toby et al.

I enjoyed Jane Brody's defense of love in theater and 12th Night.
However, I think there is a source of tension about this, particularly
in this play.

Orsino's love for Olivia is presented as moony, romantic and false. He
falls in love with Viola by getting to know her first as a person.
Olivia falls in love with her, also, against her will in a way, because
she hears her speak.  Toby falls in love with Maria gradually, partly
because of her inventive play with Malvolio. Malvolio loves something
outward--place, money--and that love is wrong.

The theme seems to be that outward signs, and love at first sight,
mislead.  AYLI does something similar: Orsino falls at first sight, but
is given a chance to get to know, and love, Rosalind in disguise.
Immediate sexual attraction is a great misleader, not a reliable sign of
real love.

In 12th Night the best love comes unsought, sneaking in the back door.
Love comes first, sex later. That's why the contradictory suddenness of
the connection between Olivia and Sebastian seems to go against the
grain. On the other hand, it does happen at the end, just to wrap things
up. And Olivia may be considered to have come to love Sebastian in the
person of his twin, when she in effect was impersonating him. And Viola
may appreciate Olivia in a way that stands in for Sebastian's missing
personal acquaintance with her. So not all is lost.

Best wishes,
David Bishop

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