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Scenes 2.4 and 2.5

Scene 2.4 - Orsino's palace

Orsino enters with Cesario, Curio, and others. He asks for a song - he heard a lovely one last night and wants to hear it again - and Curio goes to find Feste. In the meantime, music is played. Orsino tells Cesario to remember his troubles if "he" ever falls in love "himself." Asked by Orsino how "he" likes the tune, Cesario answers that it echoes love itself. Orsino asks if Cesario is in love with someone, and "he" admits "he" is: someone of Orsino's complexion and age. But Orsino tells "him" to find a younger woman, since a man needs a woman younger than himself: woman's beauty ages quickly. Feste comes in and sings the song, which Orsino praises as an old-fashioned tune: its lyrics tell of a man who dies of love for a woman who will not love him back. Orsino gives Feste money for his "pains" - Feste replies that singing is a pleasure for him, but he'll take the money for his pleasures.
Orsino asks everyone but Cesario to leave. He wants Cesario to try to woo Olivia again, telling her that Orsino doesn't care at all about the fortune her father has left her, but only about her. Cesario asks what Orsino would do if Olivia simply would not love him - Orsino answers that it's impossible. In response, Cesario asks how Orsino would feel if some woman loved him as much as he loved Olivia, and refused to take "no" as an answer. Orsino responds that no woman could love as deeply as he does, that no woman has a heart deep enough. Cesario tells a story about "his" sister, who pined away from her love for a man to whom she could not reveal it. Orsino asks if she died from her love. Cesario answers, cryptically, that "he" does not know, though "he" is all the daughters of her father, and the brothers too. Orsino doesn't answer the remark, but sends Cesario again to see Olivia.

Scene 2.5 - Olivia's garden

Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are talking with Olivia's servant, Fabian. Sir Toby asks if Fabian would like to play a trick on Malvolio - Malvolio has talked badly about him to Olivia, and he's happy to help. Maria enters with a letter and announces that Malvolio is coming. She places the letter and leaves, and the men hide. Malvolio enters wondering if Olivia loves him, as Maria has told him. The men mock him from their hiding places. Malvolio thinks of other servants who have married their masters, becoming rich and powerful. Hearing this, Sir Toby is nearly ready to attack Malvolio. As Sir Toby curses him from his hiding place, Malvolio continues to imagine what it would be like if Sir Toby had to bow to him. Finally, Malvolio finds the letter - it looks like Olivia's handwriting. He opens the letter and finds a poem, which says that she cannot admit who she loves, but that the man is "M.O.A.I.". Guessing that "M" stands for "Malvolio," he tries to figure out the riddle - the letters are all in his name, but are out of order. The prose passage that follows the poem in the letter instructs him to be ready for nobility, instead of servitude: to be surly to the servants, and to wear yellow stockings. Inspired, Malvolio resolves to learn how to act like a nobleman, to read sophisticated authors, and to act superior to Sir Toby, to prepare himself to be Olivia's husband. Malvolio leaves, and the men come out from hiding. Maria enters, and asks how her trick went. Sir Toby praises it, and Maria explains just how displeasing Malvolio will be to Olivia when he acts as the letter instructs him. They all leave together.

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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