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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: February ::
Solving the M.O.A.I. Riddle
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0340  Monday, 21 February 2005

From:           Bruce Young <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Feb 2005 10:05:33 -0700
Subject: 16.0196 Solving the M.O.A.I. Riddle
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0196 Solving the M.O.A.I. Riddle

A late entry on the M.O.A.I. riddle-solving question:

I agree with several who argued that the main reason for "M.O.A.I." (all
letters in Malvolio's name but requiring him to "crush" them to fit) is
to show his foolishness and egotism.

But I remember reading a paper a few years ago that presented another
plausible explanation.  It argued that the letters could be taken as a
version of the French word "moi" as pronounced by the English in
Shakespeare's time.  I believe handbooks for learning French were
offered as evidence.  This explanation may work-along with the other
one-if Malvolio tries to sound the letters out as a word.  If memory
serves, I've seen that done on stage and maybe on screen too.

I don't remember the title or author of the paper.  It had been
submitted for publication, and I saw it in manuscript form; I don't know
if it was in fact ever published.

Bruce Young

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