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Unformatted text preview:"WHEN I CAME TO MAN'S ESTATE" TWELFTH NIGHT AND PROBLEMS OF IDENTITY By J. DENNIS HUSTON One of the most perplexing difficulties confronting a reader of Twelfth Night, or any other Shakespearean play, is how to deal with what might be called its residual problems, those testy questions that critical analyses ignore or leave unanswered. Some such problems, indig- enous to Shakespearean drama, are really unanswerable. And Twelfth Night has its share of these. Partly the condition of Shakespeare's text is to blame. We shall never know, for instance, whether the fourth stanza of Feste's final song is as it should be: there surely Shakespeare's, and Feste's, sense of context is hardly given just representation by the sen— tence fragment passed on in the text. But, just as surely, conjecture about this problem is essentially fruitless, since the content of the stanza is clear enough without textual emendation. The bed that should be the still, fixed center of a generatively fruitful marriage is instead frac- tured by the drunk's unproductive activity and, like him, spun out into the unstable perimeter of one-night stands, and falls, in the company of other tosspots. Partly, too, insoluble problems are a necessary result of the way Shakespeare wrote-——swiftly and commercially, so that accuracy of petty detail is sometimes sacrificed to more pressing immediate effects. The contradictory double time scheme in Twelfth Night is, as a consequence, neither very noticeable nor very important. It hardly matters that Sebastian and Viola collide spatially when they are temporally almost three months apart. Superficially, they meet at the same time, for Viola has served Orsino during the three months that Sebastian has accompa- 274 i j, DENNIS HUSTON (1 U1 iv: nied Antonio with "not a minute's vacancy" {V.i.98}.1 Viola is, how- ever, first sent, as an emissary to Olivia only three days after her arrival in Orsino's court, and her return journey to that court is interrupted by the scene in which Sebastian takes lease of Antonio after a stay of three months, though the length of this stayiis not revealed until we have for- gotten its technical impossibility. Shakespeare is not so much antici- pating the modern movie technique of the flash-forward as he is sacrificing consistency of detail to thematic effect, by assuring his audi- ence that Sebastian lives, that Olivia 5 love can find a suitable object, and that all of the intricately interwoven complications of plot are under the guiding and beneficent control of a dramatist who means to bring them eventually to a harmoniotiséconclusion. If in the process he can successfully employ one of his favorite dramatic sleights of hand, double time, that is only further proof of his suprahuman powers as creator. Mostly, though, unanswered problems in Twelfih Night evolve out of the very nature of the dramatic form itself, with its carefully delim— ited boundaries of action and charactier. Such boundaries may appear almost unlimited, as the controversial complexity of a world like Ham» let's proves, but such complexity is the result of carefully controlled exclusion: we'do not notice boundaries because we do not look for them, Fascinated by what we see and; hear of Hamlet, we forget that what we see and hear of him is all there is. As a consequence, we often ignore problems that the dramatist ignores, although they could never pass unnoticed in real life. We emay wonder briefly how Horatio could have remained a month at Elsinore without ever meeting Hamlet, and why everyone in Denmark has conveniently forgotten that Hamlet is the real heir to his father s throne, but we dismiss such queries as quib- bles. Shakespeare does not worry about them, so whv should we? There are similar kinds of delitescent boundaries to the action of Twelfth Right. For example, Viola changes her plans for disguise be- tween the time we first see her and the time she arrives at Orsino's court, where she appears as a page, not a eunuch. Her brother likewise alters his purpose after his initial appearance for although he takes leave of Antonio specifically to go to Orsino' s court, he next appears as a casual sight—seer who has apparently-f put aside all thoughts of count and court. Finally, Olivia could hardly? marry Sebastian while confused l 1 All quotations from Shakespeare are from the Complete Works of Shakespeare, ed. Hardin Craig (Chicago. 1951). 276 T WELF TH NIGHT about his identity, because the error would be exposed during the ex- change of vows. Even in his euphoric state of wonder, Sebastian would have to recognize that he was not "Cesario." But the reader fastidious enough to worry about problems like these must also wonder if he is not perhaps throwing in his lot with the likes of Pope's dunces and digging around in the fertile soil of Shakespeare's plays merely to turn up grubs and worms and bits of hair. Still, the plain fact about grubs and worms is that they often indicate where the soil is richest: trivial problems are not the only ones left unanswered in Twelfth Night. Others more substantial linger and tease us out of thought until, like Malvolio struggling to decode the cryptic content of Maria's note, we think we glimpse the figure of a grander, yet undis- closed, design. For instance, why is Viola, who is at least once called Sebastian and who has hoped from the first that her brother is not really drowned, so slow to realize that he is in Illyria? And why, when she finally sees him, does she initiate such an unnecessarily long and artificial recognition scene? What happens to Antonio, who is conspicu- ously ignored in the closing speeches of pardon? How are we to inter- pret Orsino's insistent desire to see Viola in feminine dress before ac- cepting her as a woman? And finally, as a corollary to this question, we might wonder just how we are supposed to feel about the betrothal of this vain, self—serving Duke to such an energetic and interesting her- oine. These questions do overreach the boundaries of explicit action in Twelfth Night, but the play itself encourages this kind of conjecturing by repeatedly calling forth the Renaissance equivalent of the Veifrem- dungsejfekt. Almost never is the audience allowed to forget that it is watching a play whose world is manufactured out of the shaping imagi- nation of the dramatist. That is why Sebastian first appears so early in the play, even at the cost of temporal consistency; that is why Malvolio, enthralled by Maria's letter, does not notice his boisterous deceivers, who are near enough to hear him clearly as he reads; and that is why Fabian interrupts the gulling of Malvolio to exclaim, "If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction" (III.iV.l40-4l). In addition, there are other less obvious, but equally important, promptings to detachment. Riddles and puns are dominant figures of speech in the language of Feste and Viola, who use them in part to signal their detachment from the restrictive roles forced upon them in Illyria. And in the process their detachment is passed on to the audience, which is similarly encouraged to View the action critically I BE". "('15 i-gll' STON I\'J '1! \1 from its own, even broader. perspectiy'e. Even the playwright's cursory suggestions about the geography of ' lllyria distance 'it from actual human experience by locating it somewhere in the middle distance between fairyland and reality ' At first the 11 orld of the play seems insulated like the setting of a fairy tale, 1vhich, even when its action is supposedly wide hanging presents us with a realm that 15 e1 eiyw here the samen—ravaged by the same kind of giant, dragon, or wicked stepmother. Here the sea, through its my th— ical associations with tempest, leviathan, and chaos, laps at the edges of the land and people grounded there, threatening imminent dissolution. it already has robbed this world of considerable masculine force and left its women exposed and isolated. Sebastian has apparentlv drowned and V 10113 is shipwrecked on a strange shore Olivia' s father and brother have died, and while her uncle drowns his days and nights in drink, she is undergoing a sea change of her 014m 131 clos 11113" up her house and heart in order to "water once a day her chamber round / With eye~offending brine" (I.i.29-30). Eventhe ruling Duke is figuratively paralyzed by a love that, like the sea, swtallows all that it encounters. This world, too, seems characterized by the psychological simplicity of the bedtime story, Where human motives are transparent and actions exaggernated The Duke caies for nothing but his love of love; Olivia has resol1- ed to honor her brother' s memory by shutting herself off from the sun for seven years; and her uncle just as foolishly insulates himself against an outside wor ld of time and responsibilitv by drunkenly oblit- e1 ating all distinctions between late and betimes. Then there 15 Viola—— orphaned, shipwrecked, and washed up on a strange shore—clearly an identifiable personage from fairy tale:E she is the quester, the young, untested hero :of uncertain origins 11, he has come to rejuvenate the 11 asteland and heal its languishing, impotent ruler. To emphasize her apparently myt thical role, Shakespeare makes her introduction as simply direct as "once upon a time 'and her motitation as t1 anspar cut as fairy— land love: "l l'Vhat country, friends, is this?. W ho gm erns hereP. Orsinoi l have heard HIV father name him: / He was a bachelor then" (l1i..l 24 28 29) Then further identifying her with the quest- ing hero, Shakespeare dresses her as a voting man and sends her to court, in bboth senses of the word. But as the action of the plat moves inland from the sea, situation and motiVation become much more complicated, and the sharp outlines of the fair'v— tale wbrld dissolve. In its place appear the 1ague perimeters of 278 T WELFTH NIGHT the realm on the other side of Illyria from the sea. There men do not open their arms and gates to shipwrecked strangers; they shut them tightly for fear of knaves and thieves. There revelers who drink through the night cannot forever playfully catch the sounds of morning by claiming to be up betimes; they must eventually confront the jarring dissonances of the morning after the night before. And there marriage is not the promise of joy lived happily ever afterwards; it is a perilous undertaking which all too often ends in misunderstanding and sorrow. This world on the other side of Illyria is less well known to the charac~ ters than to the audience, which, after all, inhabits it daily and has come to the play partly in flight from its wind and rain. But the play will not let the audience forget it altogether; Feste is there to remind it that such a world indelibly marks the souls of those who have been there, even if they can regularly return to the realm of imagination and play. Like the audience, Feste is thus a participant in two worlds. And, also like it, he enters and exits from the realm outside Illyria. At his entrance the first thing we hear of him is that he has been away, and his habitual detachment from the action of the play suggests that the world he has been visiting still has him partly in its grasp. There he has learned that language shifts meaning according to context and that, as a result, boundaries are no longer distinct: "That that is is" (IV .ii.l7) at one time, but at another "Nothing that is so is so" (IV.i.9). Like language, then, philosophy becomes for F este a cheveril glove that can be turned at will to conceal wear and tear; from almost all that goes on around him he maintains a measure of detachment. Only once in the drama is he so completely drawn into an action that he does not manage to retain a degree of aloofness from it: he mistakes Sebastian for V iola- Cesario. And then his error may signal a confusion of identity that belongs as much to psychological complexity and the realm of the audience as to dramatic irony and the world of Illyria. Feste's exit, though, is even more obviously out from Illyria into the world of the audience. In his closing lyric he sings of experience re- moved from, but relevant to, that of the play. Here also we are pre- sented with fool's play, a closed house, revelry, and marriage, but what we are given is really the underside—pr, in the spatial terms suggested by the play, the other side—of the human experience depicted in the drama. For Feste's talk of closed houses that remain locked up against outsiders, of revelry followed by collapse, and of marriage blighted by the failure of expectation can perhaps be taken as a comment upon the apparently harmonious resolution of the plot. At the very least, the 1.1315035 11115101: 2'19 song encourages speculation about a conclusion Where closed houses are opened up and rev elry is ceremonialized in multiple marriages. and 111-he1e in the process so mam troublesome questions are left unan- sw cred, . Finally; a further complication to the original simplicity of story line and character is presented by the entrance of Sebastian, whose manner and dress resemble V iola's and whose situation is almost an exact par- allei to hers: saved by a ship captain and lamenting the loss of his twin. he sets out to seek his fortune at Orsino s court. Now suddenlv there are two questing heroes spawned by the Same sea appareled in the same clothes and bound for the same court And now too the problems facing the audience, as well as the lllyrians, are compounded almost fourfold, for with Sebastian s introduction come also the knotty ques— tions of "Violas reluctance to admit him living to her consciousness, double time, Antonio's captivity, and Orsino's insistence on redressing his page before acknowledging her identity as woman. Sebastian's pres- ence is no doubt dramatically necessary, since he is needed to satisfy Olivia but for her a man like Antonio might have served just as well: all that is really necessary is someone radically different from the lan- guishing Orsino 'Why then bring on Sebastian? Shakespeare is not ina l- teiably bound to use twins just because his source does. Once early in his dramatic career he added a set of twins to a plot borrowed from Plautus; here he might just as easily have taken one away and avoided some oE the d1 '1mat1c problems precipitated by Sebastian' s appearance. But of course he never meant to avoidthern, because what surely drew him to the story in the first place was the very presence of the twins; it is one of the few details in the source he does not alter. Since the time of the Roman theater,-separated twins have provided the dramatist 'with a wealth of ready— -'made possibilities for comedy nourished by misunderstanding and mistaken identity, and Shake- speare was hardly one to throw away a dramatic formula of proven worth But the real reason he may have chosen to retain the twins from the source story has to do with mistakenmor uncer tainw—identity in a mme complex way, for m this respect, as 111 so many things he appar- ently anticipated some of the discoveries of modem psy chology. OI if he did not actually anticipate them, he at least created a dramatic world expansis-e enough to hold them in suspension. For a moment let me like Feste. enter the worid of Twelfth Night from the side weathered by wind and rain. , One of the Foremost concerns of modern psychoanalytic study——for 280 T WELF TH NIGHT theorists as radically different as R. D. Laing and Erik Erikson—is with problems of identity. "The patient of today," Erikson writes, "suffers most under the problem of what he should believe in and who he should—or, indeed, might—be or become. . . . The study of identity, then, becomes as strategic in our time as the study of sexuality was in Freud's time."2 Erikson suggests that modern man can expand his un- derstanding of this problem by studying its manifestations in history, for in singular moments man's struggle with identity, if he is such a man as Luther or Gandhi, has unleashed forces of immeasurable crea— tivity and reshaped his world. But Erikson does not draw his examples of identity crises from history alone. He finds them also in art, and par- ticularly in Shakespeare's tragedies, which give us remarkably lifelike accounts of man's struggle to understand and fulfill his sense of identity. The most obvious example is Hamlet.3 For surely what Hamlet experi- ences as he struggles to integrate his remembrance of things past with a present time that seems out of joint is, in the language of contemporary psychology, an acute identity crisis. Repeatedly he reaches out for an identity that just as repeatedly dissolves before his self-lacerating vio- lence: What a piece of work is a man! . . . And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? (II.ii.314'22) 0, what a rogue and peasant slave am I! (II.ii.576) To be, or not to be: that is the question. . . . (III.i.56) What should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven? (III.i.130—32) Shakespeare's interest in problems of identity is not restricted to his tragic drama, however. It is also recognizable as a concern in his come- dies, where many of the problems that rack Hamlet are filtered through a different mode and mood. For instance, Shakespeare's comic heroines are often, like Hamlet, fatherless: Viola and Portia have lost their fathers to death, Rosalind has seen hers banished, and Beatrice and Helena are conspicuously fatherless in dramatic worlds where fathers play important roles. Sometimes, also like Hamlet, these heroines are called to answer the intransigent demands of their fathers' decrees: 2 Childhood and Soctety, 2nd ed. (New York, 1965). pp. 279, 282. 3See particularly "Youth: Fidelity and Diversity," m The Challenge of Youth, ed. Erik Erikson (New York, 1965). pp. 4-9. j, DEN Pi IS HUSTQN ' 2.31 l-lerrnia must wed Demetrius or choose between death and a nunnery, and Kate must marry if ever she is to escape endless unflattering com- parisons with her sister. Portia's situation is most obviously like Ham— let's; the charge impressed by her father upon her comes from beyond the grave. Cut loose from a childhood identity secured by paternal pro- tection, these heroines. also like the Danish Prince, soon discover the vulnerability of their newly exposed positions: Rosalind is banished under threat of death, Helena is abandoned in the enchanted wood, and Viola is stranded upon a strange shore. In such a position Hamlet depends upon disguise to protect himself against violation of either the physical or psychological kind, and the heroines do the same thing. Most often they hide their sex, both liter— ally and figuratively, behind the disguise of a page, with at least a two- fold purpose. First, the disguise protects them from sexual attack; sec— ond, it secures for them a physical freedom that is the complementary corollary to their sudden vulnerability: without a father each is also without a circumscribed identity as a child and thus free to venture out into the broader world of adult responsibility and ultimately to choose a husband. Sometimes the disguise that these heroines wear is not con- sciously assumed, but even then it bespeaks a desire to enjoy the freedom associated with adulthood, particularly with the masculine role in the adult world. Kate and Beatrice do not actually dress themselves as young then; they just become masciilinely independent and aggres- sive—"by openly rebelling against the conventional feminine behavior expected of them. . No doubt there are other interesting similarities between the experi- ences of Hamlet and many of Shakespeare's heroines. Both undergo physical journeys that are related to psychological transportations; both are complemented by friends, often traveling companions, who speak for more socially conventional attitudes: and both experience setbacks in love which encourage doubt aboutfthe faithfulness, and ultimately about the very identity, of the loved one. To point out such similarities is not to argue that Shakespeare's comic heroines are really like Hamlet. Between them there is a world of difference: the difference between a comic and a tragic universe, between recreative psychic play and con— strictive psychic paralysis, and, finally, :between life and death. What is important abont these similarities, from my point of View, is that they testify to Shakespeare's abiding concern with different forms of identity crisis, One such crisis is depicted in Twelfth Night, and it begins with Viola, stranded upon the shore. 282 T WELF TH NIGHT Behind her is the sea of lost identity, which has washed away the foundations of her previous existence. Gone is her childhood tie to fam- ily, for her father is dead, her mother never to be heard of, and her brother apparently drowned. Gone too is Messaline, country of her birth, now so insulated by the perilous sea of experience that she cannot even think of returning there. Her world lies all before her, in thoughts of marriage and fulfilled sexual identity: "Orsino! I have heard my father name him: / He was a bachelor then" (I.ii.28—29). It is not by accident that she remembers her father as she thinks of Orsino, for she is in the process of turning from the security of parental protec- tion to the uncertainty of sexual affection; but because the world of sexuality is also associated with pain and death—as Feste's first puns about hanging and Viola's later ones about dying emphasize—Viola is reluctant to commit herself completely to this new world. Her thoughts stray from Orsino to the softer figure of Olivia: "O that I served that lady / And might not be delivered to the world, / Till I had made mine own occasion mellow..." (I.ii.4l-43). But occasion is not altogether under her control—Olivia will admit no kind of suit—and Viola is forced back to her original idea. She resolves to serve the Duke, though not yet with a clearly defined sexual identity. At first she thinks that she can obliterate all sexual considerations by appearing to Orsino as a eunuch; but once within his sphere of influence, she may sense that sexlessness is impossible and, still uncertain about the consequences of her female identity, adopts the disguise of a page to secure a measure of freedom and mobility. But what Viola is also doing by donning this disguise is providing herself with freedom in its manifestation as time. In Shakespeare's Festive Comedy (1959), C. L. Barber made us aware of how important the concept of holiday is to Shakespearean comedy as a whole, where dramatic worlds often mirror the freedom of festival time when traditional rules are overturned and restrictions abandoned. But this kind of freedom is not limited to Shakespeare's dramatic uni- verse in general; it may also find expression in the psyches of particular characters: an unloosening of bonds without may be matched by an equivalent unloosening of bonds within, and for similar reasons. In a time of revelry the state buys long—term obedience at the cost of short—term license; in the process of play the psyche often does the same thing, by temporarily putting away its usual restraints. The purpose of such a psychic holiday is obvious: it gives rein to impulses and energies in the psyche that might otherwise build to explosive proportions, and at the same time it allows for experimentation with, and maturation of, developing forms of identity. M Ga 4.19 j.DEN1\'IS HUSTON In the development of the integrated human personality, modern psychoanalytic study suggests, the most important such psychic holiday occurs during adolescence. Erikson calls it a "psychosocial moratorium" and describes its crucial importance to adolescent girls: woman's life too contains . . . a sanctioned period of delay of adult functioning The maturing gir1.. may venture into "outer space" with a bearing and a curiosity which often appears hermaphroditic if not outright" masculine." A special ambulatory dimension 15 thus added to the inventory of her spatial behavior . .the young girl tries out a variety of possible identifications with the phallic- ambulatory male.4 W hat ts most interesting about this analysis. from my perspective. is its relevance to Viola. Here 15 an account of psychic development that 111- cludes newly acquii ed freedom, adventure into a realm formerly un- known, uncertain sexual identity with a tendency toward hermaphro— ditic and masculine behayior, and experimentation with a variety of identifications—~all important components of Viola 3 experience in 11- lyria Much of the action of Tweifth Night can thus be viewed as the depiction of an adolescent identity criSis in Viola, who is struggling with the problems of transition from childhood to adulthood. And, as if to focus attentibn on this crisis, Shakespeare has compounded it by put— ting Viola in an isolated position, Where she cannot turn back to pa- rental guidance for help. She is, in short, subjected to the tyranny of freedom; liberated from her past, she must play out different roles in order to discover what her mature identity is to be in the future: to dis- cover who she is, she has to discover also who she is not. First she attempts to put problems of sexuality aside by proclaiming herself a eunuch, but that plan is apparently rejected as soon as she gets close enough to discover that sexual impulses cannot be negated merely by proclamation. It is an idea that Shakespeare used twice before as the starting point for cornedymin Love' 5 Labom" 5 Lost and The Taming cf the Shrew——and would use again with more serious overtones in Measure for Measure. Here. how ever it is passed over quickly in V 10- la's experience because it is going to be given much more thorough treatment in the characrerization of Olivia. The next role that Viola assumes, and is least inclined to put away at the end, is the one obviously associated with her disguise. It is what 4 Identity: Youth and Crists (New York, 1968), pp. 28235. 284 T WELF TH NIGHT Erikson, in talking about the adolescent female in general, calls her "identifications with the phallic-ambulatory male"—ambulatory because she tries out the freedom of movement that society generally denies young women, phallic because such freedom and mobility enable her to penetrate into realms of experience previously unknown. In her dis- guise as a young man Viola is free to move first from the seashore to the court and then back and forth between the court and Olivia's house. In addition, the increasingly phallic nature of her activity in this disguise is suggested by the progression from her penetration by stealth into Orsino's court, through her more obvious verbal and psychological as- sault of Olivia, to her blatant confrontation of Sir Andrew with the ulti- mately phallic weapon, the sword. Of course both Sir Andrew and Viola assume their roles as duelists with the greatest reluctance because they are, finally, not fitted to their usurped masculine attire. Though for obviously different reasons, each is inadequately equipped to deal with the manifold social, sexual, and psychological responsibilities of mature masculine identity. But each can discover his inadequacies only by playing out his assumed role to its inevitable conclusion. Viola must do so because her initial freedom is accompanied by a concomitant confusion of sexual identity. Partly this is a result of con- flicts attending her situation in general, for confusion of sexual identity is a common problem for a young woman trying to decide who and what she is, and will become. During such time, Erikson writes, "the young person does not feel himself clearly to be a member of one sex or the other,"5 and she may as a consequence experiment with a variety of sexual identities. But mostly Viola's confusion of identity results from the fact that she is a twin. Since she and Sebastian, as twins, together constitute "A natural perspective, that is and not" (V .i.224)——an ap— parent singleness of identity within a doubleness of form—her sense of self must necessarily include a sense of other self that is her brother. Thus when he is apparently lost, she faces the psychic extinction of de- bilitating inaction. In almost her first speech Viola describes the feeling of paralysis that threatens to accompany the loss of her brother; without him she wonders if she can do anything: "And what should I do in 11- lyria? / My brother he is in Elysium" (I.ii.3—4). As a woman, then, she may imagine herself psychically incomplete, because her female identity does not take adequate account of her missing male counter- part. Perhaps to compensate for this feeling, Viola attempts to integrate 5 Identzty- Youth and Crzsts, p 186. J. DENNIS HUSTCN "285 Sebastian's masculineness into her own personality: she dons his clothes and moves with the freedom characteristic of a young man. She does not, how. ever, like her forerunner in the source story, assume her broth~ er's name, because she is not trying to obliterate her own feminine identity; she is not trying to become Sebastian Instead, her intention is to secure for herself a temporary psychic holiday 1n order to try out 1-ar ions modes of l1eha1 101" before settling on the finality of adult commit- ment. She does not understand the action in these terms, but the lan- guage ofu "3 elay appears recurrently in her thoughts: 0 that l ser1ied that lady And might not he delivered to the World Till I had made mine own occasion mellow , i"- hat my estate is! (l.ii.4l-4~i) WV hat else may hap to time i will commit; in y shape thou thy silence to my wit. (Iiififl- -61' ) 13 time! thou must untangle this. not I; it is too hard a knot for me to untiei (ILiiAl-si?) In her choice of name Viola emphasizes the tenuousness of her posi— tion because "Cesario" suggests among other things. premature birth. delivery into a world before the attainment of full g1 owth. V1 hether its sound also suggests Arion on the sea, and thereby Sbebastian as he 15 de— scribed by Viola's nameless ship captain, is a matter of conjecture. Such a suggestion, though, would underscore the idea that Viola, in putting on her disguise as Cesario, is attempting to integrate aspects of Sebas— tian' s personality into her own. It might also help to explain why Viola is later so yeluctant to recognize Sebastian as an entity unto himself. Having lived so long 111th him as part? of her personality, she may be unconsciously hesitant to admit him to the outside world again, partly because he will then no longer be under her psychic management and partly because his reappearance signals the end to her period of play: she must then put away her masculine usurped attire, and with it a mobility and masculine freedom that she will never know again. It 1s no wonder that she may experience this kind of unconscious re— action to surrendering her masculine freedom since the only clearlv feminine role she t1 les on as Cesario is hardly- more suited to her devel- 286 T WELF TH NIGHT oping sexual identity than the role of eunuch. And, like her identity as eunuch, its expression is confined to language, not action. The role is that of the silent, passive, long—suffering female, and it significantly in- volves time, not as delay for the germination of action, but as perma- nent entrapment in inaction and grief: My father had a daughter loved a man, she pined in thought, And with a green and yellow melancholy She sat like patience on a monument, Smiling at grief. (II.iv.l 10-18) Viola may be silent about her love for Orsino——though in moments like this one she no doubt hopes he will penetrate her disguise—but she hardly sits like patience on a monument. Instead, she counters her sorrow with the almost constant activity in "outer space" that goes with her disguise as a young man. In this respect she provides a marked con- trast to other characters in the play who respond to love by various kinds of withdrawal. For instance, Olivia filst expresses her love for her dead brother by withdrawing into her house and closing out even the sun. Then later, when she has decided to put aside her mourning veil, she sends a servant after Cesario and bids him come to her, where they may confer in private. Even her courtship of Sebastian is essentially an act of with- drawal: what she really wants to do with her lover-husband is lock him up within her own private inner space—in her house, in her church, in her bedroom, and ultimately in her body. But during such withdrawal she at least admits another person, even if her union with him is con- strictively possessive. Orsino and Malvolio cannot do even that, because their idea of love is really just a form of self-involvement. Their erotic fantasies leave no room for another person—wonly for a self-generated image of that person. As a result, each ultimately calls for the absolute privacy of autistic isolation. "I myself am best / W'hen least in company" (I.iv.37—38), Orsino assures his servants, while Malvolio, as is his habit, is a good deal blunter: "let me enjoy my private" (III.iv.99). Shake- sPeare's pun here———it is surely his and not Malvolio's—is also instruc- tive because it emphasizes the kind of adolescent constrictiveness that logically results from such a self-serving approach to love. Like Malvo- lio's other Freudian slip about winding his watch and "play [ing] with my—some rich jewel" (II.V.66), it directs us to the essentially masturba- }. DENNIS HUSTON 287 tory nature of his, and Orsino's, withdraw-1311, Locked in the love of vain, self—generated images, each experiences figuratively what it is Malvolio's misfortune to endure literally; imprisonment in darkness with only the self for company". Maivolios imprisonment though, dOCS 111016 than draw attention to his and the Dukes limitations as lovers; it also gives explicit dramatic expression toa motif of implicit thematic importance thloughout: en- trapment. Few characters 111 Twelfth 1V tght escape imprisonment of one kind or another. The most obvious victims besides Malvolio are Viola' s rescuer and Antonio who are locked forever in the limbo of indefinite incarceration. rtefore the ship captain can be released, Malvolio has to be relocated and pacified; before Antonio can be freed, he must be par- doned by Orsino. Neither captive is in an enviable position, for Malvo- Iio's promise of revenge attests to an uncompromising bitterness hardlv compatible w ith the reconciliations characteristic of comic resolutions, and Orsino' 3 failure to grant Antonio pardon 1s almost as conspicuous as the silence of Duke Antonio to the last scene of The Tempest. Both may be versions in the comic mode of Iago s F1011] this time forth I never will speak w"ord (Othello V .ii.304). an intransigent refusal to communicate with those whose values one cannot accept. Whether the audience is supposed to he consciously aware of such problems is a de- batable question. though surely some measure of awareness is generated by the Duke s order to pursue Malvolio and by Antonio s presence on the stage, '1'1 hat cannot be denied, however. is the fact that such prob lems focus attention on other examples of imprisonment both volun» ta 1y and 1m oluntar y, in the play. Olivia is for a time locked in her house, while Sebastian is confined fit st at Antonios and then at Olivia 5 Sir Andrew and Sir "Iloby, rebel- ling againsi the confinement of Olivias exaggerated mourning plan. become imprisoned in another kind of excess as the monotonous circu laritv of their early ~morning catch suggests. Orsino and Malvolio, each in his own special 11 av, are trapped in self generated, autistic love. Even Feste and '1 iola who are the most mobile of Illyria s inhabitants, are ultimately constricted by their Illvrian dress. [he Fool continuallt fo1ced to- adjust his mood to the tastes of his superiors, faces as the price of possible failure the ultimate form of constriction: "my lady will hang thee for thy absence' ( I 116-4; And V 101a, who first dons the disguise of Cesario in order to secure a greater measure of f1 eedom, finds that dis- guise ever more restricting until at last it threatens her with both confinement and self—annihilation: "Cesario, husband, stay" (V .i.l46\. 288 T WELFTH NIGHT Such suggestions of entrapment qualify the happiness of the resolu- tion. In a world so marked by constriction, marriage may also appear as another form of imprisonment, particularly when it is entered upon in such haste and for such foolish reasons. Olivia does not even know the name of her husband, Sir Toby has married Maria to repay her for gulling Malvolio, and Orsino is betrothed to Viola because he liked her when she was a boy. To the end his concerns are with surface judgments and self-generated images of the loved one: before recognizing Viola as a woman he must see her in feminine dress, and even then his intention is to make her his fancy's queen. Perhaps as testimony to the precarious- ness of this union, to the violence that can at any moment transform Orsino's totalitarian commitment from love to hate, is the figure of Antonio, whose faithful, vigorous love has not, like V iola's, been at last rewarded by Orsino's grace. Antonio's fate, we know, can become hers if the outlines of her character do not match the figures of Orsino's fancy: "Why should I not, had I the heart to do it, / Like to the Egyptian thief at point of death, / Kill what I love?" (V .i.l20-22). Momentarily the energies of such potential violence threaten the apparent order of the resolution, but they are quickly pushed back down beneath the surface of things by the happy ending. In V iola's action, however, there is per— haps some evidence of uncertainty. She ignores Antonio, as if she were afraid to recognize what his presence at her betrothal means. More no- ticeably, she seems to draw out the recognition scene with her brother interminably, as if, reluctant to discard her disguise, she were luxu- riating for a few last, precious moments in the play world of masculine freedom. She talks about putting on her woman's weeds, but about this problem there is more than the necessary amount of talk, and less than the necessary amount of action. Then, at the end, she is strangely silent, as if she were fondly remembering all that is past. She might, though, for all we know, be joyfully anticipating the future and her role as Orsi- no's fancy's queen. If so, we wish her luck; but we cannot share her opti— mism, because we remember that Twelfth Night marks the conclusion of revelry and is always succeeded, as Feste reminds us, by a long season of wind and rain. Rice University Copyright© 2003 EBSCO Publishing