Notable Quotes from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

Quote #1:

"If music be the food of love, play on.
Give me excess of it, that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken and so die."

Act 1, Scene 1 introduces us to Duke Orsino's introspective lines. He expresses his pain caused by unrequited love. With a metaphorical touch, he implores musicians to immerse him in an abundance of music, equating it to sustenance for his love-longing heart. This musical imagery echoes his desire to mend his love-wounded soul through a melody's healing power.

Quote #2:

"Misprision in the highest degree! Lady, cucullus non
facit monachum; that’s as much to say as I wear not
motley in my brain. Good madonna, give me leave to
prove you a fool."

In Act 1, Scene 5, a whimsical exchange unfolds between a clown and Olivia. The jester's clever retort, steeped in Latin, suggests that appearances can deceive. He explains that his colorful attire doesn't mirror his intellect. He contests Olivia's dismissal, teasing her with the notion that he can prove her foolish. This light-hearted banter offers insight into the characters' dynamic and Shakespeare's wit.

Quote #3:

"Love make his heart of flint that you shall love,
And let your fervor, like my master’s, be
Placed in contempt."

Viola, disguised as Cesario, attempts to win Olivia's affection for Duke Orsino in Act 1, Scene 5. When Olivia rejects her advances, Viola's frustration finds expression in a curse. She wishes that Olivia's heart becomes as unfeeling as stone, mirroring Viola's own concealed love for Orsino. This passage highlights the intricate web of unspoken emotions and desires.

Quote #4:

"Unless the master were the man. How now!
Even so quickly may one catch the plague?
Methinks I feel this youth’s perfections
With an invisible and subtle stealth
To creep in at mine eyes."

Olivia's soliloquy in Act 1, Scene 5 captures the rapidity of falling in love. She questions her emotions and compares love to a contagious disease. Olivia's realization that she is drawn to Cesario's qualities despite her initial resistance showcases the profound nature of attraction and its swift onset.

Quote #5:

"I left no ring with her. What means this lady?
Fortune forbid my outside have not charmed her!
She made good view of me."

In Act 2, Scene 2, Olivia sends Malvolio to retrieve a nonexistent ring from Viola. Puzzled by the request, Viola muses on Olivia's motives. She considers the possibility that her external appearance has captivated Olivia. This moment foreshadows the forthcoming twists in the narrative, hinting at the entangled relationships and mistaken identities to follow.

Quote #6:

"Dost thou think, because thou art
virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?"

Sir Toby Belch's humorous remark in Act 2, Scene 3 reflects his jovial nature. In response to Malvolio's disapproval of their revelry, Sir Toby challenges the notion that virtue should preclude enjoyment. He playfully questions whether abstaining from merriment is a prerequisite for virtuousness, showcasing his carefree attitude and disdain for self-righteousness.

Quote #7:

"My father had a daughter loved a man
As it might be, perhaps, were I a woman,
I should your Lordship."

Viola, disguised as Cesario, advises Orsino in Act 2, Scene 4 to move on from Olivia. She draws from her own experience, citing her hypothetical sister's devoted love for a man. Viola's understanding of women's hearts, nurtured by her own feelings for Orsino, adds depth to her advice and underscores the complexities of love and gender dynamics.

Quote #8:

"i am all the daughters of my father’s house,
And all the brothers, too—and yet I know not."

Act 2, Scene 4 finds Viola, as Cesario, revealing her dual identity to Duke Orsino. She speaks of being both a daughter and a son, alluding to her desire to keep her brother Sebastian's memory alive. This revelation adds an element of mystery and complexity to their interactions, setting the stage for the eventual resolution of mistaken identities.

Quote #9:

"“If this fall into thy hand, revolve. In my stars I
am above thee; but be not afraid of greatness: some
are born great, some achieve greatness, and some
have greatness thrust upon ’em.”

Act 2, Scene 5 sees Malvolio receiving a deceptive letter that he believes is from Olivia. This fabricated letter implores him to embrace the greatness foretold by the stars. The passage, while intended to mock Malvolio, paradoxically conveys wisdom about the diverse paths to achieving greatness, whether through birthright, effort, or unexpected circumstances.

Quote #10:

"Boy, thou hast said to me a thousand times
Thou never shouldst love woman like to me."

In Act 5, Scene 1, Orsino speaks these words to Viola, revealing his realization of her true identity. He recollects Viola's earlier statement as Cesario, where she insisted that she couldn't love a woman as much as she loved Orsino. His newfound understanding symbolizes the culmination of the play's theme of concealed emotions and the unveiling of true feelings.

Study Guide
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