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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: October ::
Re: Sir Toby, Sebastian, et TN
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2494  Tuesday, 30 October 2001

[1]     From:   Michael Friedman <
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        Date:   Monday, 29 Oct 2001 10:40:07 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2424 Re: Sir Toby et al.

[2]     From:   Steve Roth <
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        Date:   Monday, 29 Oct 2001 10:13:12 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2466 Re: Sir Toby et TN

[3]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
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        Date:   Monday, 29 Oct 2001 18:34:47 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2483 Re: Sir Toby et TN

[4]     From:   Tom Bishop <
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        Date:   Monday, 29 Oct 2001 13:55:55 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2483 Re: Sir Toby et TN

[5]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Monday, 29 Oct 2001 19:54:00 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2466 Re: Sir Toby et TN



[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Friedman <
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Date:           Monday, 29 Oct 2001 10:40:07 -0500
Subject: 12.2424 Re: Sir Toby et al.
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2424 Re: Sir Toby et al.

Again, apologies for my late response.  David Bishop asks for more
textual evidence that Sebastian is poor, so here goes.  The play
emphasizes the fact that the shipwreck has left Sebastian without any
money (at least on his person).  Before he parts from Antonio, we have
the following exchange:

Antonio: Hold, sir, here's my purse. . . .
Sebastian: Why I your purse?
Antonio: Haply your eye shall light upon some toy
              You have desire to purchase, and your store
              I think is not for idle markets, sir. (3.3.38, 43-46)

Antonio gives Sebastian his purse because Sebastian doesn't have enough
money for anything but the most necessary purchases.  This exchange
convinces me that Shakespeare wants to underscore, just before Sebastian
meets Olivia, that Sebastian's funds are low.

As for Sebastian's "estates at home," the play seems to be silent on
this matter.  We could assume that Sebastian has land back in Messaline,
or we could just as easily assume that he does not.  "Right noble is his
blood" (5.1.264) the Duke says, but, as I understand the historical
circumstances, nobility did not necessarily imply riches.  What we do
know for sure is that Sebastian and his sister have left Messaline for
some unspoken reason and never mention any intention of returning.
Perhaps there's nothing to go back to?

With regard to Sebastian's interest in Olivia's wealth, I cannot provide
unequivocal proof, only a suggestion.  In his long soliloquy after
meeting Olvia and receiving from her a pearl, Sebastian wonders about
the whereabouts of his companion:

                              Where's Antonio then?
        I could not find him at the Elephant;
        Yet there he was, and there I found this credit,
        That he did range the town to seek me out.
        His counsel now might do me golden service (4.3.4-8)

On the literal level, "golden" here means "valuable," but in conjunction
with the financial imagery of the whole passage ("credit"), we may also
see Antonio's service (helping Sebastian figure out what to do about
Olivia) as one that might bring Sebastian gold.

Compare this speech from *Merchant* by Bassanio, another young man who
appreciates a woman's good qualities but by no means discounts her
financial value:

        In Belmont is a lady richly left,
        And she is fair and, fairer than that word,
        Of wondrous virtues. Sometimes from her eyes
        I did receive fair speechless messages.
        Her name is Portia--nothing undervalu'd
        To Cato's daughter, Brutus' Portia.
        Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth;
        For the four winds blow in from every coast
        Renowned suitors, and her sunny locks
        Hang on her temples like a golden fleece (1.1.161-70)

Again, the mention of "gold" here literally refers to the color of
Portia's hair, but I don't think it's much of a stretch to see that the
word choice also flows from Bassanio's concern for her riches.
Bassanio, in this speech, says nothing about "loving" Portia.  That
comes later, as, I would argue, it is entirely possible that Sebastian
will later love Olivia.  But for now, the money, beauty, and other good
qualities seem paramount.

Michael D. Friedman
University of Scranton

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[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Roth <
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Date:           Monday, 29 Oct 2001 10:13:12 -0800
Subject: 12.2466 Re: Sir Toby et TN
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2466 Re: Sir Toby et TN

"T. Craik's mention in his Arden edition of Twelfth Night's appearance
in Shakespeare's likely source material. "Gl'Ingannati" contains in its
prologue the phrase "The story is new and taken from nowhere but their
own industrious pates whence also are taken your lots on Twelfth
Night"."

"Your lots" seems (?) to refer to a traditional Twelfth Night practice
with which I am unfamiliar. Does Craik explain it, or can any other list
member?

Thanks,
Steve
http://princehamlet.com

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
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Date:           Monday, 29 Oct 2001 18:34:47 -0000
Subject: 12.2483 Re: Sir Toby et TN
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2483 Re: Sir Toby et TN

> >(The correct parallel to "Twelve Noon" is of course "Twelve
> >Midnight", and has always been.)
>
> asserts Tom Bishop in parenthesis.  But let me remind Tom that Jonson
> uses the phrase "the noon of night" in Sejanus.  It is also used by
> Herrick in Hesperides.  Drayton, Man in the Moon, uses the phrase
> "Nighted Noone." You can check these in the OED sb. 4, 4b. So I suppose
> "twelve of night" is possible, and might be abbreviated (by Gabriel's
> metaphor-wielding poet) as "twelve night."  Unfortunately, I cannot find
> an example.
>
> Yours, Bill Godshalk

A proxity search of TWEL* before NIGHT gives, as possibly the most
interesting collocation,

 1680 Lond. Gaz. No. 1520/1 The Twelfth at night, Captain St. Johns, by
the help of the Speaking Trumpet, called to us.
(speaking-trumpet 1671)

Also notable is:

1582 in Feuillerat Revels Q. Eliz. (1908) 349 At wyndesor at Twelf Eve
at night.

(The entire entry for TWELFTH EVE(N) seems relevant:

Obs.

  The eve of Twelfth-day; Twelfth-night.

   c1000 Ags. Gosp. Matt. ii. 19 rubric, 

 

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