Olivia inquires where Malvolio is. Maria reports that he is on his way, but that he is also acting very strangely. Maria believes Malvolio to be quite crazy. Olivia agrees feeling like she is crazed as well.
Malvolio arrives with a forced smile, trying to please Olivia based on the aspects stated in the letter. She asks why he is smiling when she sent for him on a serious occasion. Malvolio responds by kissing her hand, saying that he is just trying to please her. Many of Olivia’s lines Malvolio interprets with sexual innuendo.
Maria slyly inquires why Malvolio is taking such liberties with her mistress, all the while feeling quite smug that her trick is working. Malvolio again recites the quotation: “Some are born great. Some achieve greatness. And some have greatness thrust upon them.” Malvolio believes that Olivia wants him to behave this way referencing lines within the letter, while Olivia is quite confused as to his odd antics.
A servant announces the arrival of Cesario. Olivia believes that Malvolio has gone quite mad and asks Maria, Toby, and Fabian to watch over him while she goes to greet Cesario.
Malvolio refuses to believe that the letter was false and continues to believe that Olivia is in love with him. Maria, Toby, and Fabian treat Malvolio like he is demented and demon possessed. Malvolio speaks scornfully to them as the letter has instructed him to be surly with the servants. They are quite happy that their ruse is creating so much fun. Together they agree to lock Malvolio in a dark room. They agree to explain this to Olivia saying that they think it best for him since this was a common treatment for people thought to have mental illness.
Sir Andrew comes bearing the letter he has written to challenge Cesario to a duel. Toby reads the letter aloud so that all can hear and comment upon it; it is obviously confused and humorously riddled with mistakes Toby decides that he will not deliver the letter but instead he will be the one to spur each of the men on personally.
Cesario and Olivia come back out of the house. Olivia gives Cesario a locket with her picture in it, asking him to wear it and begging him to return tomorrow to visit her. Olivia goes back into the house and Sir Toby approaches Cesario with Sir Andrew’s letter of challenge. Toby tells Cesario that Andrew is a fierce fighter. Cesario does not wish to fight him and wants to leave. Toby goes to Andrew lying, saying that Cesario is a tremendous swordsman ready for a fight. They prepare to fight with Sir Toby saying that each has promised not to hurt each other too much in the duel.
Sir Toby takes a quick leave. Cesario and Fabian discuss what consequence might occur in this fight. Cesario begs Fabian to get him out of this situation. Toby returns with Andrew, convincing him to fight. The two draw their swords just as Antonio enters the scene. Antonio mistakes Cesario (Viola) for Sebastian, Viola’s twin brother. He desires to fight Andrew in Cesario’s place. A number of Illyrian officers rush into the scene. They have recognized Antonio and are there to arrest him. Antonio turns to Cesario, believing it is Sebastian, and asks him for his money purse so that he can pay his bail. Cesario has no idea who this man is and is confused by Antonio’s apparent recognition of him. Antonio is deeply hurt and feels betrayed by “Sebastian.” Upon hearing this name, Viola has hope that her brother is not dead. She rushes off to try and find him. The officers believe that Antonio must be quite mad and take him away.
Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are left standing quite confused by the turn of events.
Close Reading Analysis:
- Discussion Points:
1. Describe the plot changes that occur within this scene. The mistaken identities and deception complicate things greatly.
What changes occur with:
Maria and Malvolio
Malvolio and Olivia
Sir Toby and Sir Andrew
Sir Andrew and Cesario
Cesario and Sebastian
Antonio and Sebastian
2. How many identities does Viola now have?
3. Shakespeare’s comedies typically end in marriage continuing the sense of community. Who do you see getting married in the end?
4. Why should we feel sorry for Antonio?
1. Maria’s letter has worked perfectly in manipulating Malvolio. Do you feel sorry for Malvolio? Why or why not? Is Maria truly evil? Why or why not?
1. Blocking a Scene
1. What are the beliefs about Midsummer Eve? What date is it? And how did Shakespeare use this date to explain human behavior?
In Line 148, Sir Andrew states, “More matter for a May morning.” What is the significance of May 1st or May Day? How does the significance of these dates of Spring parallel the mood and tone of the plot?