Enter Valentine and Viola dressed in man’s attire and named “Cesario.” Cesario has served for three days in Orsino’s household and is already considered to be a favorite of the Duke’s. The Duke enters to tell Cesario of a very important errand he must run for the Duke. Orsino hopes that Olivia will so like the young, attractive messenger that she will be more agreeable to his entreaty. The Duke wants Cesario, Viola in disguise, to act his woes (Line 26) in trying to impress and attract Olivia. Hesitantly, Cesario agrees to complete the Duke’s request. Cesario’s last line of the scene foreshadows an impending love triangle: Yet a barful strife! / Whoe’er I woo, myself would be his wife (Lines 41-42).
Close Reading Analysis:
- Discussion Points:
Characterization of Orsino:
Orsino and Cesario’s relationship is quite developed after three days. Valentine reassures Cesario that the Duke is constant in his favors (Line 7) and that If the Duke continues these favors towards you, Cesario, you are like to be much advanced. This opinion of the Duke’s loyalty comes into question as the play progresses. The suggestion of “advancement” is questionable as well.
- Vocabulary and Literary Devices:
1. Aside: (Line 42) Whoe’er I woo, myself would be his wife.
Here is a line that ends the scene with a cliffhanger. It foreshadows that there are unforeseen problems yet to be added to this already complicated plot.
2. Mythological reference to Diana's lip (Line35)
Orsino affectionately and passionately describes Cesario’s physical features, which appeals to Viola’s secret love, but creates a very awkward moment on the stage.
Shakespeare’s comedies often rely on foiled expectations and mistaken, unexpected love to develop the story. Predict how things could go wrong within the structure of the elements of plot so far. What might happen between Orsino and Olivia? Olivia and Cesario? Orsino and Cesario/Viola?
As a full class discussion, ask the students to pretend they are Viola dressed as Cesario. Generate a list on the board of persuasive tactics and appeals that they would use to woo Olivia for Orsino. How would these perhaps be more successful than Orsino’s ineffective tried methods?
How would one appropriately woo a woman in the Elizabethan Era? Who is involved in the courtship: society, monarchy, family, individuals? Are these practices still used today and how have they been modernized?