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Scenes 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3

Scene 1.1 - Illyria

Music plays, and Orsino, Duke of the land of Illyria, enters with his attendants, including Curio. Orsino praises the sweetness of the music, which he calls the "food of love," and which he wants to devour in excess. But he asks the musicians to stop - it's no longer so sweet: the charm of music, like love, is fleeting. Asked by Curio if he wants to go hunting, Orsino replies that he is the one who feels like a "hart" (deer), hunted by his love for Olivia. Valentine enters and reports on Olivia: she is still mourning her brother's death. She wears a veil and cries constantly. Resolutely, Orsino argues that she may love her brother, but this is nothing compared to the love she will have for Orsino.

Scene 1.2 - The coast of Illyria

Viola enters with a captain and his sailors. She asks what land she's now in; the captain tells her it's Illyria. The captain, it turns out, has rescued Viola from a shipwreck, and she believes her brother drowned in it. The captain reports that he saw her brother floating away from the wreck towards safety - Viola gives him money for saying so. In response to Viola's questions, the captain tells her about Illyria: Orsino, a noble duke, whom Viola has heard of before, rules here. Orsino is a bachelor, in love with Olivia, a maiden whose father died a year ago, and her brother shortly after, and she has hated the sight of men ever since. Viola wishes that she could be Olivia's servant until she's ready to return to the world, but the captain argues that Olivia will accept no new persons into the house. Viola thus decides to serve the Duke - and to disguise herself as a man to do so. She'll be, she argues, a fine and charming eunuch for him. The captain agrees to help Viola with her plan, and to keep her secret.

Scene 1.3 - The Countess Olivia's house

Sir Toby Belch, a relative of Olivia's, enters with Olivia's servant, Maria. Sir Toby complains that Olivia's taking the death of her brother far to seriously. Maria, in turn, scolds him for staying out late every night drinking - particularly with his constant companion: Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Sir Toby defends his friend as a musician, scholar, and friend, though Maria is doubtful. Just then, Sir Andrew enters, and has a playful dialogue with Maria about taking her hand when they're introduced. Once Maria leaves, the two friends engage in a witty and punning banter, laced with French phrases. Sir Andrew suggests he'll leave town tomorrow, but decides against it because of the plays and dances in Illyria. He also confesses that he too is in love with Olivia, but is outdone by Orsino's courtship, to which Sir Toby responds that Olivia wants nothing to do with Orsino, and so there's still hope for Sir Andrew. Finally, Sir Toby questions his friend's dancing skills, and so the scene ends with Sir Andrew dancing, his friend cheering him on.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Scenes 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3
Scenes 1.4 and 1.5
Scenes 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3
Scenes 2.4 and 2.5
Scenes 3.1, 3.2, and 3.3
Scene 3.4
Scenes 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3
Scene 5.1


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