Posts Tagged ‘Malvolio’
mShakespeare performs its final Twelfth Night, Act 2 Open Ended Run performance 1 PM on Sunday April 18…
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M.O.A.I. doth sway my life…
Show opens 6 PM SLT (PST) on Tuesday, March 2.
Open-Ended run will be every Tuesdays @ 6 PM, and Sundays @ 1 PM. SLT “SL Time” — PST until March 14, after which, the time becomes PDT.
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This scene is like to a sort of “play within a play,” although it’s a “real event” within the world of this play–but, for this spectacle, Malvolio’s the actor, and the other, willing and comment-eager audience.
Malvolio enters–beautifully, with a prancing shadow AO, and thinking that Maria fancies him:
Malvolio: ‘Tis but Fortune, all is fortune. Maria once told me she did affect me, and I have heard herself come thus near, that, should she fancy, it should be one of my complexion. Besides she view me with a more exalted respect than anyone else that follows her. What should I think on’t?
Toby betrays his first explicit sign of affinity towards Maria–jealousy that Malvolio would view Maria suchly:
Toby: Here’s an overweening rogue.
I imagine Toby might actually draw sword (or, in our “archetypal production“, a historical pistol).
Fabian seems to be the guy who will maintain peace among the trio; he tells Toby to chill:
Fabian: Oh peace: Contemplation makes a rare Turkey Cock of him, how he lets under his advanc’d plumes.
Andrew, displays his characteristic valor (which, in later scenes, we’d find is mere bravado–words, words, words but he’s really a chicken inside):
Andrew: Slight, I could so beat the Rogue.
Of course, when Andrew (the “lesser knight”) joins in the violence-threats, Toby’s the one who goes, “Calm down!” (but, perhaps, Andrew is also pulling for a grab at Toby’s pistol):
Toby: Peace I say.
Even before getting that letter, it seem as if Malvolio is set for this perfect duping–he’s already deep in that booby-trap of unwarranted arrogance:
Malvolio: To be Count Malvolio.
I imagine Toby is holding the gun *away* from Andrew, and Andrew is insistent that he shoots:
Toby: Ah, Rogue.
Andrew: Pistol him, pistol him!
Toby might even put his pistol away (or get a better, more concentrated aim at Malvolio), as he tells Andrew to shut up:
Toby: Peace, peace.
Malvolio has some sort of class-crossing epiphany, as he cites the marriage of the “Lady of the Strachys” with a mere yeoman (Lady of the Starchys was a prominent patron of the Blackfriars Theatre, and she married the yeoman wardrobes-keeper of the Blackfriars):
Malvolio: There is example for’t: The Lady of the Strachy, married the yeoman of the wardrobe.
Andrew, apparently, greatly disapproves of such class-crossings, curses to Jezebel, that yeoman of the wardrobe:
Andrew: Fie on him, Jezabel.
At this point, it becomes evident that the boxtree-hidden trio’s conversation isn’t just an aside, but actually a part of the script–Fabian cues in Malvolio’s full immersion in delusion:
Fabian: O peace, now he’s deeply in: look how imagination blows him.
Malvolio: Having been three months married to her, fitting in my state.
Elizabethan-pistols were not known for accuracy, so I suppose slingshots and such are preferred for precision:
Toby: O for a stone-bow to hit him in the eye.
For a Puritan, Malvolio certainly doesn’t believe in thriftiness or even celibacy (then again, maybe he means to only tuck his lady in):
Malvolio: Calling my Officers about me, in my branch’d Velvet gown: having come from a daybed, where I have left Olivia sleeping.
Malvolio would be turned, away from the boxtree. Toby might even rise up, losing cover of the box-tree, completely outraged, gun drawn and ready to shoot:
Toby: Fire and Brimstone!
Tortured, Fabian would pull Toby back down to hiding:
Fabian: Oh peace, peace.
Fabian braces for the next line, his arms, the shackles holding the furious Toby down:
Malvolio: And then to have the humor of state: and after a demure travaile of regard: telling them I know my place, as I would they should do theirs: to ask for my kinsman Toby.
Toby: Bolts and shackles.
Fabian, perhaps just slightly fearful that he might be caught again, prays:
Fabian: Oh peace, peace, peace, now, now.
Malvolio is kind of quintessentially prissy-at-heart–he’d have seven people go after Toby, while Malvolio himself frowns and dallies, winding up his watch or playing with some other object of amusement:
Malvolio: Seven of my people with an obedient start make out for him: I frown the while, and perchance wind up my watch, or play with my–some rich Jewell: Toby approaches; curtsies to me.
Toby, fighting in Fabian’s stranglehold:
Toby: Shall this fellow live?
According to Penguin (Mahood), Fabian basically says the era-equivalent of “Wild horses wouldn’t draw it out of me”–with chariots (cars):
Fabian: Though our silence be drawn from us with cars, yet peace.
You can almost see it–Malvolio smiling that annoying expression (as seen in an upcoming OEP2 playbill), fading to an evil expression (or, see the raw snapshot of our current steward juxtaposed next to a sinister-ish “Count Malvolio”). And, hearing that, Toby’s fist has just broken free of Fabian’s stranglehold:
Malvolio: I extend my hand to him thus: quenching my familiar smile with an austere regard of control–
Toby: And do’s not Toby take you a blow o’the lips, then?
Malvolio seems to really lose it here, that light touch with reality, “By virtue of my luck of having become married to your niece, I now have the right to say this to you.”
Malvolio: Saying, “Cousin Toby, my Fortunes having cast me on your Niece, give me this prerogative of speech.”
I imagine Fabian, completely bewildered by this unexpected wildness, loses his hold on Toby. Toby is also astounded by Malvolio’s great leap of faith–all that power, from a single marriage:
Toby: What, what?
Malvolio, facing away from the boxtree, again:
Malvolio: “You must amend your drunkenness.”
Toby gets up to try to take a swing at Malvolio; Fabian pulls him back down, trying to reason with him:
Toby: Out scab!
Fabian: Nay patience, or we break the sinews of our plot?
Malvolio waxes on the grandiose, “the treasure of Sir Toby’s time”:
Malvolio: “Besides you waste the treasure of your time, with a foolish knight.”
This bit is just classic funny to me:
Andrew: That’s me, I warrant you.
Malvolio: “One Sir Andrew–”
Andrew: I knew ’twas I, for many do call me fool.
Finally, Malvolio looks down–perhaps at his shadow–to spot the letter, picks it up:
Malvolio: What employment have we here?
The trio hiding behind the boxtree are really a knavish audience, each taking turns poking at the other to “shut up”, while Fabian takes his glory in introducing the cues:
Fabian: Now is the Woodcock near the gin.
Toby: Oh peace, and the spirit of humors intimate reading aloud to him.
I imagine that Malvolio has already torn the envelope open by now (in haste, as if a rowdy birthday boy, throwing the envelope on the ground), in order to see the full range of letters (her C’s, U’s, and T’s–Elizabethan slang for vagina, or cunt sans n, clearly echos Malvolio’s subconscious licentiousness):
Malvolio: By my life this is my Lady’s hand: these be her very C’s, her U’s, and her T’s, and thus makes she her great P’s. It is in contempt of question her hand.
Andrew, always the odd person out in double entendres:
Andrew: Her C’s, her U’s, and her T’s: why that?
Malvolio is reading the letter’s opening line carefully. And then he goes back to the envelope, notices the wax, announces that he will call the authenticity of the letter “by your leave wax”. Carefully, he bends down to look at the envelope, sees the imprint of Lucrece–takes that as the affirmation to be from her lady:
Malvolio: “To the unknown belov’d, this, and my good Wishes” — Her very Phrases… By your leave wax. Soft, and the impressure her Lucrece, with which she uses to seal: t’is my Lady – to whom should this be?
Fabian sounds almost impertinent, but since Orsino has mentioned liver in the context of infatuation several times earlier, Fabian might deliver this line with both humor and vigor:
Fabian: This wins him, Liver and all.
Malvolio reads the opening riddle of the letter (a rather coarse rhyme that just seems so ridiculous — seems more fit if uttered by a high-pitched echoing female voice):
“Jove knows I love,
Lips, do not move;
No man must know.“
Delightfully, Malvolio continues thinking aloud:
Malvolio: “No man must know.” What follows? The numbers alter’d: “No man must know,” If this should be thee, Malvolio?
In jest, Toby wonders along with Malvolio:
Toby: Marry, hang thee brock.
In The Rape of Lucrece, Lucrece dagger-kills herself (due to shame, and such romantic/era reasoning), after being raped (albeit by royalty); her death galvanized her people to fight for the Republic of Rome. The cryptic message in this letter thus refers to how the supposed-writer’s heart is stabbed “with bloodless stroke”, as if by a self-imposed knife (“a Lucrece knife”), by its silent yearning, for M.O.A.I., which “doth sway her life”:
“I may command where I adore,
But silence, like a Lucrece knife:
With bloodless stroke
My heart doth grow,
M.O.A.I. doth sway my life.“
Fabian, always, the avid commentator:
Fabian: A fustian riddle.
Toby’s got it:
Toby: Excellent Wench, say I!
Malvolio closes in precisely on the bait:
Malvolio: “M.O.A.I. doth sway my life.” Nay but first let me see, let me see, let me see.
Fabian and Toby exchange commentator jests:
Fabian: What dish o’ poison has she dreft him?
Toby: And with what wing the Stallion checks at it?
Malvolio interprets the first line of the “fustian riddle” to be “I command the man whom I love”, implying that he must be one of her servants. He thinks that’s obvious, or “evident to any formal capacity.” There’s no ambiguity (“not dark”) in this, “there is no obstruction in this.” And then he goes to the end of the letter, the acronym, that “alphabetical position”–he asks himself if he could read that as something that resembles himself?
Malvolio: “I may command, where I adore.” Why she may command me: I serve her, she is my Lady. Why this is evident to any formal capacity. There is no obstruction in this! And the end: What should that Alphabetical position portend… if I could make that resemble something in me? Softly, “M.O.A.I.”
Toby thinks Malvolio’s lost the bait–Fabian, though, thinks the bait can’t be missed, it smells “as rank as a Fox”:
Toby: O, aye, make up that, he is now at a cold scent.
Fabian: Sowter will cry upon’t for all this, though it be as rank as a Fox.
Malvolio: “M. Malvolio, M.” — Why that begins my name.
Almost as if he’d just placed a verbal bet on this bear of a Mal:
Fabian: Did I not say he would work it out, the Cur is excellent at faults.
Malvolio: “M.” But then there is no consonancy in the sequel that suffers under probation: “A.” should follow, but “O.” does.
The commentators seem to join him in deduction, though Malvolio doesn’t hear them:
Fabian: And O shall end, I hope.
Toby: Aye, or I’ll cudgel him, and make him cry O.
Malvolio: And then “I” comes behind.
Fabian: Aye, and you had an “I” behind you, you might see more detraction at your heels, than Fortunes before you.
Fabian puns on “eye” and “I”, almost as he wishes the trio to be given away, to be “credited”.
Malvolio then gives that famous MOAI reading (which is surprisingly understandable to a modern audience even without further interpretation), following its directions as-if-hypnotized (taking a “spin” upon reading “revolve”). The letter deviously builds up on his aspirations, as well as his current want-to-do-list, and even ends with a threat that if he doesn’t do otherwise, he’d stay a steward, “the fellow of servants”:
Malvolio: M.O.A.I. This simulation is not as the former: and yet to crush this a little, it would bow to me, for every one of these Letters are in my name. Soft, here follows prose: “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. Thy fates open their hands; let thy blood and spirit embrace them, and to inure thyself to what thou art like to be — cast thy humble slough, and appear fresh. Be opposite with a kinsman, surly with servants: Let thy tongue tang arguments of state; put thyself into the trick of singularity. She thus advises thee, that sighs for thee. Remember who commended thy yellow stockings, and wish’d to see thee ever cross garter’d: I say remember. Go to, thou art made if thou desir’st to be so: If not, let me see thee a steward still, the fellow of servants, and not worthy to touch Fortune’s fingers. Farewell, she that would alter services with thee, that fortunate unhappy.”
Malvolio’s reaction is the best that can be had–he even admits he’d be “point-device”, i.e., the very man described in the letter, to perfection:
Malvolio: Daylight and champaign discovers not more! This is open… I will be proud, I will read politic Authors, I will baffle Sir Toby, I will wash off gross acquaintance, I will be point-device, the very man. I do not now fool myself, to let imagination jade me; for every reason excites to this, that my Lady loves me. She did commend my yellow stockings of late, she did praise my legs being crossgarter’d, and in this she manifests herself to my love, and with a kind of iniuntion drives me to these habits of her liking. I thank my stars, I am happy: I will be strange, stour, in yellow stockings, and cross Garter’d, even with the swiftness of putting on. Jove, and my stars be praised. Here is yet a postscript. “Thou canst not choose but know who I am. If thou entertainst my love, let it appear in thy smiling–thy smiles become thee well. Therefore in my presence still smile, dear my sweet, I prithee.” Jove, I thank thee, I will smile, I will do everything that thou wilt have me.
Already starting to smile, Malvolio exits.
It’s curious to note that Malvolio’s “inner self” seems completely removed from his outer persona of the goody-Puritan; Malvolio’s malady is that of the hypocrisy of schisms–if he truly believes in the principles he tries to act, he wouldn’t have been the victim (he wouldn’t have taken the bait!–would have reported this letter direct to Olivia, caused a few raised eyebrows, and that’s all). But then, maybe it’s fundamental human nature that “Puritan-types” are just an act, and so it’s inevitable that Malvolio falls for this trick.
After Feste leaves, Toby asserts his righteousness, then tells Malvolio to busywork himself by polishing his chain with crumbs. This time, he asks Maria for wine, not Marian:
Toby: Th’art i’th right. Go sir, rub your Chain with crumbs. A stoop of wine, Maria.
Malvolio attempts to beseech Maria, wrongly believing her to be an ally. Except, Maria entertains Toby’s wish, giving him more wine, and thus Malvolio gives his threat.
Malvolio: Mistress Mary, if you priz’d my Lady’s favor at anything more than contempt, you would not give means for this uncivil rule. She shall know of it by this hand.
Malvolio exits via a quick door. Maria, quite shaken up by his threat, replies with fury:
Maria: Go shake your ears!
This scene conveys Viola’s famous “ring speech.”
It’s amazing how peevish (rude!) both parties are in their initial exchange! Though Olivia’s endowed with a significant estate, I’ve set this scene in Olivia’s Garden, such that Malvolio’s opening line might not just be the formal statement of a neutral servant, but contains subtext of a disregard, “Do I know you? You were with the Countess Olivia, right?”:
Malvolio: Were you not e’en now, with the Countesse Olivia?
Viola’s reply is basically, “Yeah, duh, even walking at regular speed, I’ve only walked so far. (Whom else could I be?)”:
Viola: Even now, sir, on a moderate pace, I have since arriv’d but hither.
Malvolio wishes simply to be done with this matter, to brush off this churlish messenger with a ring:
Malvolio: She returns this Ring to you (sir).
But, perhaps the endorphins released from the action of thrusting the ring at her, gets his galls up, to the essential Malvolio:
Malvolio: You might have saved me my pains, to have taken it away yourself.
Malvolio regains his composure, and attempts at the professional aloofness, again, though it seems that he’s brimming with relish in stating Olivia’s condition, “unless it be to report your Lord’s taking of this.”
Malvolio: She adds, moreover, that you should put your Lord into a desperate assurance; she will none of him. And one thing more, that you be never so hardly to come again in his affairs, unless it be to report your Lord’s taking of this. Receive it so.
Malvolio has been holding his hand out, with the unaccepted ring the whole time. Viola hasn’t accepted yet. He commands her, to “Receive it so,” (“take the ring, you rascal!”), but Viola smartly replies, keeping Olivia’s secret, and expressing the rudeness in Olivia’s fickle decision in first taking, then returning:
Viola: She took the Ring of me; I’ll none of it.
Malvolio gives his commentary (“Seriously, kiddo, you rudely threw it at her.”), and then attempts the professional servant’s aloofness (“Her will is that you take it back.”):
Malvolio: Come, sir, you peevishly threw it to her; and her will is, it should be so return’d.
Malvolio throws the ring to the ground, the two make eyecontact on the ring. Malvolio is obviously a servant too lofty to wish to pocket ring change, so, knowing that this peevish messenger might not even pick it up, he just haughtily throws it away, this prize of a ring:
Malvolio: If it be worth stooping for, there it lies, in your eye: if not, be it his that finds it.
After Malvolio leaves, Viola is alone onstage, delivering a soliloquy at a point in the story, where her character feels lonely, as well–no one really knows who she really is. She begins by wondering about the ring she never gave to Olivia, and in fact, the entire speech is a meditation on interpretive implications from the ring:
Viola: I left no Ring with her: what means this Lady?
Viola then cites the only logical explanation for the hackneyed “love at first sight”–indeed, the two had barely met, so it could only be her looks that have done this.
Fortune forbid my outside have not charm’d her:
She made good view of me, indeed so much,
That methought her eyes had lost her tongue,
For she did speak in starts distractedly.
Although she first thinks that Olivia is simply secretly giving her a token of her fondness for him, she begins to consider that Olivia might actually love her–the mere fact that Olivia’d invited her in, and her rudeness, too. And, why did she refer to the ring as her Lord’s ring?:
Viola: She loves me sure, the cunning of her passion
Invites me in, this churlish messenger:
None of my Lord’s Ring? Why he sent her none.
Epiphany–Olivia loves Cesario!:
Viola: I am the man, if it be so, as t’is,
Poor Lady, she were better love a dream!
It’s true, Olivia can only have Cesario, “in her dreams!”. “And, it’s all due to this disguise, and wow, we have yet a potential enemy due to it, this whole same-gender relationship mess. Ack!”
Disguise, I feel thou art a wickedness,
Wherein the pregnant enemy does much.
Why is it that women so often fall for Mr. Wrong (in this case… Ms. Wrong!):
How easy it is, for the proper false
In women’s waxen hearts to set their forms:
For the next, I’ve gone along with the line, as printed, from the folio, where Viola cites frailty (tendency to be soft-hearted, too-trusting thus too-quick to fall-in-love) as the cause, not women, per se–and if they’re frail, it’s because they’re made with frailty:
Alas, O frailty is the cause, not we,
For such as we are made, if such we be!
Viola then states the crux of the problem, this love triangle created by herself as this gender-disguised “poor monster”, and Olivia “mistaken”, and her master. Even if she were a real boy, the real Cesario, she would still be bound as Orsino’s servant, required to do his bidding, to woo Olivia on his behalf. But, as a woman, as she really is, she’d only cause Olivia heartbreak:
How will this fadge? My master loves her dearly,
And I (poor monster) fond as much on him:
And she (mistaken) seems to dote on me:
What will become of this? As I am man,
My state is desperate for my master’s love:
As I am woman (now alas the day)
What thriftless sighs shall poor Oliv’a breathe?
This entire episode is done while Viola ponders, standing, meditating/staring at the ring, figuring out what to do with it. She then bends down, picks up the ring, decides to let fate be her arbiter:
O time, thou must untangle this, not I,
It is too hard a knot for me t’untie.
Although Malvolio is not present onstage in the previous exchange between Viola and Olivia, he, like other servants, are within earshot, awaiting Olivia. I would assume he’s heard the bits he wants to hear, basically that Olivia doesn’t like Cesario. In the first exchange between Malvolio and Olivia earlier in the scene, Malvolio erringly puts Cesario’s foot in Olivia’s door. Now, in the reprise, he’s glad that Olivia seems to wish to spurn him.
I imagine that Malvolio nearly completes Olivia’s pentameter in her previous soliloquy, “What ho, Malvolio,” except he stumbles a bit, perhaps daydreaming about how much better he himself is to Cesario. There’s a very fatal ego in Malvolio already present even in his two lines in Act 1′s finale.
Malvolio: Here, Madam, at your service.
Olivia: Run after that same peevish Messenger
The County’s man: He left this ring behind him,
Would I, or not: tell him, I’ll none of it.
Desire him not to flatter with his Lord,
Nor hold him up with hopes, I am not for him.
If that the youth will come this way tomorrow,
I’ll give him reasons for’t: hie thee Malvolio.
Notice the trace of uncertainty in the eleventh syllable, as Olivia flat out lies in the second line, in the feminine ending. The following two eleven syllable lines (with ending words marked in bold) have masculine endings, as she’s rather certain about the thought there–she’s not at all for Orsino!
Malvolio: Madam, I will.
Malvolio exits swiftly, to catch up to Cesario, and also because he’s maybe slightly jubilant–however happy someone like Malvolio can be!
Olivia: I know not what, and fear to find
Mine eye too great a flatterer for my mind:
Fate, show thy force, our selves we do not owe,
What is decreed, must be: and be this so.
Olivia also swiftly begins her soliloquy, right after Malvolio’s 4 syllable line. It’s in a fluid rush, like the flow of love in this act. She swoons and defers to fate. What else can she do?
Malvolio re-enters with news of Cesario. Notice how he doesn’t pass judgment on this young pageboy until Olivia asks him. Before this exchange, Malvolio had been reproached by Olivia for taking a fool too seriously. He introduces the subject of Cesario very matter of factly, almost as if he were following procedure in wishing off an embassy:
Madam, yond young fellow swears he will speak with you.
I told him you were sick, he takes on him to
understand so much, and therefore comes to speak with
you. I told him you were asleep, he seems to have a
fore knowledge of that too, and therefore comes to
speak with you. What is to be said to him, Lady, he’s
fortified against any denial.
I think Malvolio is actually exasperated as he recounts this stubborn Cesario to Olivia, so that by the time he says, “Lady, he’s fortified against any denial,” he’s asking for both Olivia’s permission to send Cesario away and her sympathy.
Olivia: Tell him, he shall not speak with me.
Malvolio: He’s been told so: and he says he’ll stand at your
door like a Sheriff’s post, and be the supporter to a
bench, but he’ll speak with you.
Malvolio reveals foolishness, here, in demanding more sympathy from Olivia than the situation deserves. If he were to nod and leave, and not make the situation more difficult (and non-standard-procedure) than it is, he wouldn’t have invoked Olivia’s curiosity–and for want of other idleness–her interest.
Olivia: What kind of man is he?
Malvolio: Why of man kind…
This isn’t just Malvolio being coy. He’s actually starting to realize his folly–dear God, she can’t be interested in this young peascod, can she?
Olivia: What manner of man?
Malvolio: Of very ill manner: he’ll speak with you, will you, or
It appears that what Malvolio finds repugnant, Olivia finds interesting (shouldn’t he have caught on already, with Feste, earlier):
Olivia: Of what personage and years is he?
Malvolio perhaps smiles as he gives Olivia what he hopes to be a verbal painting of a pathetic personage:
Malvolio: Not yet old enough for a man, nor young enough for a
boy: as a squash before ’tis a peascod, or a Codling
when ’tis almost an Apple: ‘Tis with him in standing
water, between boy and man. He is very well-favour’d
and he speaks very shrewishly: One would think his
mother’s milk were scarce out of him.
Malvolio seems a horrible judge of character. Of course, the Lady Olivia, for want of other idleness, would be interested in a young boy.
Olivia: Let him approach: Call in my Gentlewoman
Malvolio: Gentlewoman, my Lady calls.
I imagine Malvolio would leave muttering to himself, as Maria enters. Now he has more than Feste to worry about.
Below is my Director’s interpretation of one part of Twelfth Night, Act 1 Scene 5. For a marked-up/annotated script, see here.
Malvolio’s opening line in Act 1 is a stark contrast to that of everyone else’s before him. Although Maria has a similar scolding attitude, she relents to humor (eventually), but Malvolio seems stubbornly bitter to a huge degree–he’s almost immediately seen as the story’s villain, though later Acts will turn him into a villain. Thus, I believe Malvolio has to act apparently malevolently bitter, but that’s really just a coverup for a sort of tragic hidden inferiority inherent in him.
Olivia: What think you of this fool Malvolio, does he not mend?
Malvolio: Yes, and shall do, till the pangs of death shake him:
Infirmity that decays the wise, doth ever make the
Feste: God send you sir, a speedy Infirmity, for the better
increasing your folly: Sir Toby will be sworn that I
am no Fox, but he will not pass his word for two pence
that you are no Fool.
Malvolio’s humor is immediately seen as politically incorrect from our modern POV, when he makes his joke based on Feste’s age. Even in Shakespeare’s days, this is perhaps seen as a foul kind of joke–but, I imagine Malvolio says this matter of factly. (Indeed, the entire exchange can be seen from Malvolio’s POV as an insult to his Lady Olivia–with Feste just being rude all the way through. Feste’s rudeness seems to foreshadow Viola’s, and in the end, it seems as if Olivia seems to favor the rude ones…)
Feste replies in that Feste-logic that Malvolio could use a bit more humor in him–to become a more foolish fool–so he hopes Malvolio would grow old and senile sooner.
Olivia: How say you to that Malvolio?
Malvolio: I marvel your Ladyship takes delight in such a barren
rascal: I saw him put down the other day, with an
ordinary fool, that has no more brain than a stone.
Look you now, he’s out of his guard already; unless
you laugh and minister occasion to him, he is gag’d. I
protest I take these Wisemen, that crow so at these
set kind of fools, no better than the fools’ Zanies.
Malvolio continues to ridicule Feste’s wit; after all, he’d just been called a fool himself by Feste! After citing that Feste got verbally owned by a fool dumber than a rock, he claims that Feste’s not funny at all unless someone gives him charity of laughter. Notice how viciously Malvolio returns Feste’s “joke”. I believe he’s acting this way not only because Olivia seems to be letting Feste make fun of her (and him), but also out of jealousy. He’s already developed an affinity towards Olivia, and would rather not have her favor someone so un-worthwhile as this fool.
Olivia: Oh you are sick of self-love Malvolio, and taste with
a distemper’d appetite. To be generous, guiltless, and
of free disposition, is to take these things for Birdbolts
that you deem Cannon bullets: there is no
slander in an allow’d fool, though he do nothing but
rayle; nor no railing, is a known discreet man, though
he do nothing but reprove.
Olivia begins by reproaching Malvolio, and explains why she let Feste make fun of her. She understands that Feste’s joking–and yet Malvolio takes his joke seriously.
Feste: Now Mercury endue thee with leasing, for thou speak’st
well of fools.
The Characterization of a SL production creates the image and visual character of the players. Since, there are basically no limitations in appearances in Second Life (lag allowing), it typically involves considering both the original character, as well as whom you have available. It’s also akin to playing God by breathing life into the avatar representation of a play’s character –or, at the very least, it’s making the PR images look pretty. Artistic Director’s notes on each character below:
- Cesario: “Shakespeare’s Mulan, except her battle is in finding her fate and identity in the land she becomes shipwrecked in.” ~age 14, in that awkward interface between boy and man, young enough to be a “squash before a peascod or a Codling almost an Apple, his mother’s milk scarce out of him”. Youthful and naive, such that she’d choose to serve Olivia just because of their common loss of a brother to Elysium, but chooses to serve the Duke–as an eunuch, not bothering to think much over the problems that course of action may lead to; of upper class parentage, and of wealth as evidenced in her attitude with money–prone to give it for good words, and prone to reject it out of honor. Though she’s Viola in disguise, she can still make it as a cute young boy. Yet, there’s sadness in her eyes, for like the Lady Olivia she is assigned to woo, she, too, mourns the loss of a brother. But, that doesn’t stop her from attempting to do the best of what she can at her job–she’s young, outgoing and optimistic, direct and yet very delicate: “very comptible, even to the least sinister usage.”
- Interestingly, as the Duke’s messenger, she seems to echo the basic meaning of one of the Bard’s sonnets, especially in her inquiry to Lady Olivia that her seclusion-in-mourning is an undue cruelness to the world, which would be without her beauty, “Lady, you are the cruel’st she alive, if you will lead these graces to the grave, and leave the world no copy.”
- Feste: “The embodiment of comic relief, his words often dispense some very perceptive insights on characters.” He’s an old clown, and as wit dwindles with age, perhaps he’s less wanted by the haughty Olivia. But, though he invokes the fancy-sounding but essentially no-namer Quinapalus in trying to justify a point, he beseeches the Lady Olivia: “Cucullus non facit monachum,” or “Don’t judge a monk by his cloak,” and goes on to prove her wrong, by making fun of her mourning (were Olivia less valley-girl-ish, she might have taken this as a grave insult). Yet, it’s interesting how he so-easily shows Olivia’s fickleness; she’s angry, at him, and calls for people to take him away, but he soon changes her perspective (perhaps foreshadowing her change when Cesario comes in), “Now Mercury endue thee with leasing, for thou
speakst well of fools!”
- Why was he gone for so long, and for how long? Seven years missing, like the Bard himself?
- In S5, Feste takes out the drunk madman and leaves Act 1. Goes with Feste’s theory of draughts in explaining what a drunk man’s like:
“Like a drowned man, a fool and a mad man: / One draught above heat makes him a fool; / the second mads him; and a third drowns him.”
- Duke Orsino: “The man in power in love with the concept of love itself.” Duke of Illyria, but not fettered with political matters, he’s greatly trusting, such that he’ll bestow the fruit of love itself to music and this new young eunuch, which a native Captain of the land introduces to him. Love is a distraction he’s willing to binge on — for him to avoid a melancholy of uncertain origins, that causes him to realize in the midst of a great speech praising the sweetness of love that it’s all too fleeting. In age, he’s the opposite of Cesario–of a venerable age for dukedom, and perhaps that’s why he casts favor on Cesario over Valentine, “a nuncio of more grave aspect.”
- Might the actor who played Olivia also have been the one who played Orsino? He never seems to speak directly and in person to Olivia. O…
- Olivia: “As her name implies olive, or Homer’s ‘liquid gold,’ she is the female embodiment of the alchemist’s gold–for Orsino, the perfect vision of love, whom he sends envoys to but never gets to know–but like liquid mercury in how she changes her affections.” Of noble birth and of a decent inheritance, shallow in her fleeting obsession with mourning her lost brother–or perhaps she merely brings up on the seven years of eye-offending brine to ward off Valentine and Orsino. Stereotypical upper class who’d listen to an old clown or an unknown embassy for want of something more interesting to do. Beautiful by most standards, and yet Cesario/Viola should stand out. Arrogant enough to disregard her own beauty into an inventory list. Appearance: Fair, blonde, gray-eyes. In mourning clothing (black – as this is not an era-specific production), even if her attitude changes from mourning to loving at the end of act 1. Mischievous, with the coin trick, but not as much as Maria in Act 2.
- Her name is nearly an anagram of Viola, but sans i.
- Malvolio: Bitter and infinitely envious of others, arrogant, wishes to be the spotlight himself. Act 1 does not reveal that much of Malvolio’s character yet, but the way he responds to Feste the Fool in Scene 5 with Olivia shows an undue meanness, the words of which at such a moment may be enough for Feste to seriously hate him enough to pull the cruel prank on him in later scenes. (Feste is trying to convince Olivia to re-hire him, and this is the worst time for Malvolio’s deprecating words.) About him, there’s the quintessential insolence of a butler, who sometimes believes he’s the lord of the house.
- Toby: The Sot of Illyria! ~age 25, but appearing literally a teenager in both self and form (in this interpretation). He’s clever, and makes me laugh more than Feste (at least in Act 1). But, why does a man–a noble–resort to drinking and staying drunk all the time? It’s escapism of a liquid sort, to dull one’s consciousness into a constant stream of drunken euphoria, avoiding a deep and bitter melancholy. Money, perchance? Sir Toby inherits the title of a noble, and yet no money, such that he’s reduced to flattering (and using) the better-endowed Sir Andrew for need of his 3000 ducats a year. Would it be too strange for him to marry the venerable-aged Maria? “Nay, but what’s a drunken man like?”
- Maria: Just an old servant woman who complains a lot until we get to Act 2. But, you do see a bit of her cleverness manifest even in Act 1, in her response to Feste’s “two points,” “That if one breaks, the other will hold; or if both breaks, your gaskins will fall.” and also her potential cruelness, when she snickers condescendingly at the young bare-peascod Cesario, all alone beneath the the house right balcony in Olivia’s house. (It’s all latent in her coyote-hazel eyes.) Does she look like Gertrude from Hamlet — perhaps they’re blood, but she’s just a servants woman in Illyria for this show! (What’s that hting with Toby and Maria, though?)
- Andrew: “The Tall Tale of a Man, and yet not really…” – rich but vulnerable and comic relief by himself. Clueless but with fine-breeding from ample education, money and class. Loves revels and masques, sometimes both at once. Believes in dirty accost-ing. 3000 ducats a year, and he can be manipulated and brown-nosed by a certain Falstaffian sot. Tall (or at least as tall as Toby or his top hat). Hair fine and thin as if from a distaff, un-frizzled at all.
- Captain: Though he appears only in a single scene, his role in introducing Cesario as an eunuch to land Viola her job with the Duke Orsino is crucial in moving the story along. He connects this shipwrecked squash-before-a-peascode with a means to go about a way in Illyria. In that respect, this character should look distinctly familiar. Thus, his face is the splitting image of the Ghost in Hamlet (SL Shakespeare Company’s inaugural production), although his body is more towards the bulkier side, being a well-fed ship-captain and all.
- Valentine: “The original embassy of love to Olivia from Orsino. And yet this Valentine of sorts is a graver nuncio [than Viola-Cesario].” Moor by birth (director’s interpretation), but loyal to his Duke, and carries out his commands. Yet, though once young, he’s already a man by age, and, perhaps that gets the lesser of him, especially when a new young eunuch comes to replace him. But, he’s honorable and does give Cesario good advice. Dress – similar to Cesario’s, but perhaps in less vibrant colors.
- Curio: “The Duke’s Young Cousin” Other interpretations have taken Curio as a lord who takes Orsino’s words as less serious and lofty, and perhaps a bit in low jest — the hunt and the hart as double entendres. Due to casting, my interpretation is to just have him be either a young-ish cousin of the Duke’s, who’s staying there and enjoying the feast of a hart, and anxious that his uncle go out hunting to replenish the feast. His words are thus nothing but the literal. He’s a chubby little boy with a gruff-ish voice who just wants more hart! Hark, the boy wants hart, the food! The music can be there or not, he cares not for the heart!
- Viola: “Shipwrecked, lost, but determined to find her way.” Shipwrecked, her brother gone, lost in the strange land of Illyria. A quintessential sadness in her eyes, as well as face capable of conveying the ample spirit needed to find her way in this new land. Her facial bone shape should be easy to masquerade as a young boy, with or without the obvious length of hair. Ideally, dressed in a tattered purple dress–color of royalty or great wealth, but marred by a shipwreck, now mayhaps to suffer the fate of a commoner. (See Cesario)