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Course Hero. "Twelfth Night Study Guide." September 1, 2017. Accessed January 15, 2019.


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Twelfth Night | Quotes


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

Orsino, Act 1, Scene 1

Orsino is suffering from unrequited love for Olivia. He calls for music to soothe his aching heart. Implicitly comparing music to food, he says he wants too much music, so much that his appetite (i.e., his love for Olivia) will finally be overwhelmed and suppressed and he can move on with his life.


I wear not motley in my brain.

Feste, Act 1, Scene 5

"Motley" is a description of the multicolored clothes a jester typically wears. In effect, Feste tells Olivia that she is a bigger fool than he is when they argue about her excessive mourning. He is saying his being a jester doesn't mean he is stupid or foolish. He proves his point by using logic to show Olivia how silly her over-the-top grief really is.


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

Viola, Act 1, Scene 5

Viola, disguised as Cesario, has tried to woo Olivia on Orsino's behalf. But Olivia remains uninterested in Orsino. Viola, hurt for her master, almost curses Olivia with these lines, wishing Olivia could experience unrequited love the way Orsino has. Ironically, Viola's curse will work; Olivia has fallen in love with Cesario (who is really Viola).


Even so quickly may one catch the plague?

Olivia, Act 1, Scene 5

After Cesario's first visit, Olivia realizes she has fallen in love with Orsino's new page. She describes love as a "plague," which ties into one of the play's chief themes—the idea of love as a type of sudden and debilitating madness.


I left no ring with her. What means this lady? / Fortune forbid my outside have not charmed her!

Viola, Act 2, Scene 2

After she is left alone with the ring Olivia sent her, Viola wonders why Olivia sent it. She knows she did not leave a ring with Olivia, so she realizes Olivia may have sent it because she has fallen in love with her (as Cesario). Viola is absolutely right.


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

Sir Toby, Act 2, Scene 3

Sir Toby asks this question of Malvolio after Malvolio criticizes him for drinking and partying late at night at Olivia's house. Sir Toby's entire life focuses on drinking and enjoying life, and he is outraged that Malvolio would interfere with that in the name of Olivia's mourning. In truth Malvolio should not be giving Sir Toby orders at all because Malvolio is only a servant in the house of Sir Toby's niece, Olivia. However, Sir Toby's behavior is so raucous, someone needs to step in.


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

Viola, Act 2, Scene 4

Viola wants to tell Orsino she is falling in love with him, but she is afraid to say it directly and cannot do so as Cesario. Instead she uses an oblique approach, hinting to Orsino about how her feelings by way of an invented story about Cesario's sister.


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

Viola, Act 2, Scene 4

At this moment, Viola reveals her love to Orsino. She tells him she is the daughter who loves a man like Orsino (because she is her father's only daughter). She also ties her masquerade to her brother, Sebastian. She says she is "all the brothers," too, because through her disguise she has kept Sebastian's memory alive.


Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon 'em.

Malvolio, Act 2, Scene 5

This statement comes from the letter supposedly written by Olivia to Malvolio. Malvolio reads it aloud to the audience. It implies that he will be able to rise to a position of greatness if he pleases Olivia and captures her heart. Malvolio quotes the statement again when he talks to Olivia. Other characters quote it back to Malvolio later in the play to mock him.


Love sought is good, but given unsought is better.

Olivia, Act 3, Scene 1

Olivia tries to woo Cesario (Viola in disguise), telling him love is best when it is given freely, rather than requested, as Orsino does with Olivia. Olivia is speaking about her own love for Cesario, but her statement applies to other characters in the play as well. Viola offers "unsought" love to Orsino, and that love turns out to be better than the love Orsino seeks from Olivia.


I have one heart, one bosom, and one truth, / And that no woman has, nor never none / Shall mistress be of it, save I alone.

Viola, Act 3, Scene 1

In response to Olivia's declaration of love, Viola (in disguise as Cesario) vows "no woman" will have control of her (Viola's) heart "save I alone." She has, in effect, told Olivia that she is a woman, but Olivia doesn't understand this any more than Orsino does.


Why should I not, had I the heart to do it, / Like to th' Egyptian thief at point of death, / Kill what I love?

Orsino, Act 5, Scene 1

When Orsino realizes Olivia is in love with Cesario, he is furious and feels betrayed. He threatens to kill Cesario (Viola). "Th' Egyptian thief at point of death" refers to a story of an Egyptian thief who kidnapped the woman he loved. When he thought he would be captured, he tried to kill the woman so he could be with her in the afterlife. Orsino has thus connected his male servant, Cesario, with a beloved woman. Viola is thrilled to hear words of love and agrees to follow Cesario, even if he kills her.


I never had a brother ... I had a sister ... Of charity, what kin are you to me?

Sebastian, Act 5, Scene 1

Once Sebastian and Viola are in the same place again, they stare at each other. Sebastian questions Viola, trying to determine who she might be. He was convinced Viola was dead, so he cannot easily believe he is seeing her now.


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

Orsino, Act 5, Scene 1

Orsino finally knows Viola is a woman, and all her comments about love now make sense to him. He reaches out to Viola and reminds her of all the times she told him she loved him. Viola is eager to reaffirm her love for him, although she would like to do it in women's clothes.


I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you!

Malvolio, Act 5, Scene 1

Malvolio is furious about the trick played on him by Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Maria. Although Orsino's attendant Fabian has explained who planned the trick, Malvolio wants revenge on everyone. His anger and sour disposition led people to trick him in the first place, and he has not learned from the experience.

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