Twelfth Night | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Twelfth Night Study Guide." Course Hero. 1 Sep. 2017. Web. 18 Nov. 2018. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2017, September 1). Twelfth Night Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 18, 2018, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)



Course Hero. "Twelfth Night Study Guide." September 1, 2017. Accessed November 18, 2018.


Course Hero, "Twelfth Night Study Guide," September 1, 2017, accessed November 18, 2018,

Twelfth Night | Scene Summaries

See Scene Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • One day in Illyria

    Orsino is frustrated because he loves Olivia, who will not see him because she is in mourning.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • The same day

    Viola has survived a shipwreck but lost Sebastian. She decides to go to Orsino's court as a boy.

    Act 1, Scene 2
  • Three days later

    Orsino sends Viola (as Cesario) to woo Olivia. But Viola loves Orsino, who thinks she's a boy.

    Act 1, Scene 4
  • A few hours later

    Viola (as Cesario) sees Olivia and speaks so persuasively that Olivia falls in love with her.

    Act 1, Scene 5
  • Elsewhere, the same time

    Sebastian turns up in Illyria, having been saved by Antonio, an old enemy of Orsino.

    Act 2, Scene 1
  • A few minutes later

    Viola (as Cesario) discusses love with Orsino.

    Act 2, Scene 4
  • The next day

    Maria, Sir Toby, and Sir Andrew play a trick on Malvolio, making him think Olivia loves him.

    Act 2, Scene 5
  • One day later

    Viola (as Cesario) goes to see Olivia, who confesses she loves Cesario, thinking Viola is a boy.

    Act 3, Scene 1
  • A few minutes later

    Malvolio tries to woo Olivia, but she thinks he is crazy. Malvolio is locked up.

    Act 3, Scene 4
  • A few minutes later

    Sir Andrew duels with Viola. Antonio intervenes but is arrested. Viola learns her brother is alive.

    Act 3, Scene 4
  • A little while later

    Sir Toby and Sir Andrew pick a fight with Sebastian (thinking him Cesario); Olivia intervenes.

    Act 4, Scene 1
  • A few hours later

    Olivia and Sebastian are married. Sebastian leaves to find Antonio.

    Act 4, Scene 3
  • Two hours later

    Orsino and Viola (as Cesario) visit Olivia's house so Orsino can woo her in person.

    Act 5, Scene 1
  • A few moments later

    Olivia calls Viola (i.e., Cesario) "husband"; the duelists blame Viola for Sebastian's actions.

    Act 5, Scene 1
  • A moment later

    Sebastian appears, and everyone's misunderstanding is cleared up.

    Act 5, Scene 1
  • A few minutes later

    Orsino vows to marry Viola.

    Act 5, Scene 1
  • Several minutes later

    Olivia learns of the trick played on Malvolio and frees him, but he is still angry.

    Act 5, Scene 1
  • A minute later

    Orsino announces that he and Viola will stay with Olivia until they are married.

    Act 5, Scene 1

Scene Summaries Chart

Scene Summary
Act 1, Scene 1 The play begins in Illyria, at the court of Orsino, Duke of Illyria. Orsino calls for music: "If music be the food of lo... Read More
Act 1, Scene 2 Viola, a young lady, has survived a shipwreck, but her brother, Sebastian, was last seen clinging to a bit of wreckage. ... Read More
Act 1, Scene 3 At Olivia's house, her uncle, Sir Toby Belch, and her maid, Maria, talk about Olivia's grief for her brother. Sir Toby i... Read More
Act 1, Scene 4 Three days have passed. Viola, disguised as a boy named Cesario, is Orsino's new favorite servant. Valentine, one of Ors... Read More
Act 1, Scene 5 Maria brings the Fool to Olivia. The Fool tries to cheer Olivia up, but Malvolio complains his jokes are weak. Malvolio ... Read More
Act 2, Scene 1 Sebastian, Viola's brother, arrives in Illyria with the help of Antonio. Antonio saved Sebastian from the shipwreck, and... Read More
Act 2, Scene 2 Malvolio finds Cesario, who has just left Olivia, and delivers the ring from Olivia. Cesario tries to reject the ring, b... Read More
Act 2, Scene 3 Late at night, Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are boisterously drinking and partying. They invite the Fool to join them, and he... Read More
Act 2, Scene 4 Orsino talks with Cesario about love. Viola's response makes him realize Cesario has also been in love, and Orsino asks ... Read More
Act 2, Scene 5 Sir Toby, Maria, and Sir Andrew are ready to play their trick on Malvolio. They have also invited Fabian, one of Olivia'... Read More
Act 3, Scene 1 Viola (as Cesario) has gone to see Olivia again. She is greeted by the Fool, Sir Toby, and Sir Andrew. Impressed by Cesa... Read More
Act 3, Scene 2 Sir Andrew complains to Sir Toby and Fabian that he is thoroughly disillusioned about his chances with Olivia: "Marry, I... Read More
Act 3, Scene 3 Antonio has rejoined Sebastian. Sebastian is glad of his company, though he does not want to put Antonio to any more inc... Read More
Act 3, Scene 4 Olivia has sent a servant to bring Cesario back to her. Nervous, she calls for Malvolio, saying, "He is sad and civil, /... Read More
Act 4, Scene 1 The Fool, believing he has Cesario in hand, is bringing Sebastian to see Olivia. Sir Toby and Sir Andrew reappear. Sir A... Read More
Act 4, Scene 2 Maria asks the Fool to dress as the hermit Sir Topas and speak with Malvolio, who is locked up because he is supposedly ... Read More
Act 4, Scene 3 Sebastian is confused but delighted by his new situation. He's not sure whether he is mad or Olivia is mad, but he accep... Read More
Act 5, Scene 1 In the last act of the play, Orsino finally goes to see Olivia himself, bringing his favorite servant, Cesario, with him... Read More
Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Twelfth Night? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!