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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: October ::
Re: Sir Toby et al.
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2424  Wednesday, 24 October 2001

[1]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Oct 2001 09:48:06 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2406 Re: Sir Toby et al.

[2]     From:   Paul E. Doniger <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Oct 2001 19:25:05 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 12.2416 Re: Sir Toby et al.

[3]     From:   David Bishop <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Oct 2001 21:51:46 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2416 Re: Sir Toby et al.


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 23 Oct 2001 09:48:06 +0100
Subject: 12.2406 Re: Sir Toby et al.
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2406 Re: Sir Toby et al.

Brian Haylett writes

> 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.

and

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

Does it even mention Twelfth Night in its title?  The play is called
Twelfe Night throughout F1, so it's a play of midnight, not the feast of
the Epiphany.  In his diary entry Manningham wrote 'mid' (ie the first
three letters of 'midnight') before crossing them out and writing
'Twelve Night' (=midnight). A title referring to midnight suits the
play, and the Middle Templars' festivities, better than one about 6
January.

This is the convincing argument made by Henk Gras in "Twelfth Night,
Every Man Out of His Humour, and the Middle Temple revels of 1597-98"
Modern Language Review 84 (1989) pp. 545-64.

Gabriel Egan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul E. Doniger <
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Date:           Tuesday, 23 Oct 2001 19:25:05 -0400
Subject: Re: Sir Toby et al.
Comment:        SHK 12.2416 Re: Sir Toby et al.

Michael Friedman says:

> I'm also not sure I follow the logic of the argument that the play is
> about love, therefore Sebastian must love Olivia.  Does Malvolio *love*
> Olivia, or does he simply want to become "Count Malvolio"?  If it's the
> latter, then I don't know why there can't be room for other emotions
> besides love in a play that is, admittedly, about love.

Malvolio never claims to love Olivia. He does assume, however that she
loves him when he reads the letter.

Regarding the question of the play being about love: I didn't mean to
imply this to be a direct motive for assuming Sebastian's love for
Olivia, but the dominance of the theme makes it easier for us to accept
the device of love at first sight more easily. The love theme of _12th
Night_ does not originate with anyone on this list, but is as old as
Shakespearean criticism. The play is full of love -- of all varieties.
Orsino's first words are about love, Viola falls in love (quickly!),
Olivia falls in love (even more quickly), Andrew is apparently in love
with Olivia (at least HE thinks so), Antonio protects Sebastian out of
love, the sea captain shows a loving protectiveness toward Viola,
Malvolio is full of self-love, we could argue that Toby and Maria love
each other (I think so, certainly, but I think many others would agree),
and Feste often sings of love -- and perhaps he is also in love with the
audience that he strives to please every day.  Michael Friedman even
pointed out that the Priest witnesses Sebastian signing an oath (bond)
of love. I don't see how the play could NOT be about love!

Paul E. Doniger

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Bishop <
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Date:           Tuesday, 23 Oct 2001 21:51:46 -0400
Subject: 12.2416 Re: Sir Toby et al.
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2416 Re: Sir Toby et al.

I would like more textual references to support the positions of Ed Taft
and Michael Friedman. Sebastian is a pretty minor character, overall,
whose twinness comes in handy to wrap thing up in the end. How far are
we supposed to worry about the complexity of his motives? Money was not
a completely unacceptable motive in Shakespeare, but where does
Sebastian mention it?  Love, in a play like this, could more easily go
without saying. Maria says nothing about money or power as a motive.
Toby says something about her loving him. Also, was Sebastian poor? He
was shipwrecked, but didn't he still have his estates at home?

Best wishes,
David Bishop

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