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Twelfth Night

[Enter VIOLA, MALVOLIO following]
MALVOLIOWere not you even now with the Countess Olivia?
VIOLAEven now, sir; on a moderate pace I have since
arrived but hither.
MALVOLIOShe returns this ring to you, sir: you might have
saved me my pains, to have taken it away yourself.
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 hardy to
come again in his affairs, unless it be to report
your lord’s taking of this. Receive it so.
VIOLAShe took the ring of me: I’ll none of it.10
MALVOLIOCome, sir, you peevishly threw it to her; and her
will is, it should be so returned: if it be worth
stooping for, there it lies in your eye; if not, be
it his that finds it.
VIOLAI left no ring with her: what means this lady?
Fortune forbid my outside have not charm’d her!
She made good view of me; indeed, so much,
That sure methought her eyes had lost her tongue,
For she did speak in starts distractedly.
She loves me, sure; the cunning of her passion
Invites me in this churlish messenger.20
None of my lord’s ring! why, he sent her none.
I am the man: if it be so, as ’tis,
Poor lady, she were better love a dream.
Disguise, I see, thou art a wickedness,
Wherein the pregnant enemy does much.
How easy is it for the proper-false
In women’s waxen hearts to set their forms!
Alas, our frailty is the cause, not we!
For such as we are made of, such we be.
How will this fadge? my master loves her dearly;30
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 Olivia breathe!
O time! thou must untangle this, not I;
It is too hard a knot for me to untie!

Next: Twelfth Night, Act 2, Scene 3


Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 2

From Twelfth Night Or What You Will. Ed. Kenneth Deighton. London: Macmillan.

1. even now, but a moment ago.

2, 3. on a moderate … hither, walking fairly fast I have got only so far; for on, = at, see Abb. § 180.

5. to have taken, by taking; see Abb. § 356.

5, 7. She adds … him; she further enjoins upon you to assure your master, so clearly that he will be obliged to give up all hope, that she will not have anything to do with him in the way of marriage: for should, = ought, see Abb. § 323.

7, 9. that you he … this: she enjoins upon you that you should never again venture to come to her as his agent except in order to report how he takes his refusal; for the omission of ‘as’ after so, see Abb. § 281.

9. Receive it so, understand her message in that sense; cp. iii. 1. 113, below, “To one of your receiving enough is shown”; Macb. i. 7. 74, 77. Schmidt takes the word literally of receiving the ring.

10. She took … me; Knight remarks that Viola wishes to “screen Olivia from the suspicions of her servant.”

11. peevishly, in a pet, with a gesture of childish vexation.

12. should … returned, should be thrown to you as you threw it to her.

13. in your eye, before you, so that you can see it. be it … it, let him who finds it, keep it.

15. Fortune … her! heaven forbid that she should have fallen in love with my looks! For the insertion of not, where we already have a negative in forbid, see Abb. § 408.

16. She made … me; she looked at me closely, observed me with close attention.

17. That sure … tongue, that her eyes seemed to have deprived her tongue of the power of speech; so completely was she engrossed in observing me that she was unable to use her tongue to any purpose; for lose, in a causal sense, cp. Lear. i. 2. 125, “it shall lose thee nothing.”

18. in starts, by fits and starts, not connectedly.

19, 20. the cunning … messenger. Her love for me has suggested to her this cunning way of inviting me, through her messenger, to visit her again.

22. I am the man, it is I with whom she is in love, if it … ’tis, if matters really are as I am sure they are.

23. she were … love, she would do better to fall in love with, etc. For this ungrammatical remnant of ancient usage, see Abb. § 230.

25. the pregnant enemy, “the dexterous fiend, or enemy of mankind” (Johnson); for pregnant = full of devices, cp. M. M. i. 1. 12. does much, accomplishes much of his purposes.

26, 7. How easy … forms! How easy it is for those who are at the same time handsome and deceitful to stamp their image apon the impressionable hearts of women. For the sentiment, cp. Oth. i. 3. 403, 4, “He hath a person and a smooth dispose To be suspected, framed to make women false”; for waxen, cp. Lucr. 1240, “For men have marble, women waxen minds.” For proper false, Wright compares iii. 4. 352, below, “beauteous-evil.”

29. For such … be, for we are such as the material of which we are made.

30. fadge, turn out; what will be the result of this? but with the feeling that it will not turn out well; cp. L. L. L. v. 1. 154, “We will have, if this fadge not (i.e. does not succeed), an antique”: “from M.E. fegen … to fit, suit, … from A.S. fegan, to compact, fit” … (Skeat, Ety. Dict.).

31. poor monster, with a reference, as Delius points out, to her double character as a man and as a woman; but also, perhaps, meaning ‘poor wretch whose thoughts (in loving the Duke) are so inordinate.’ fond … him, am as foolishly in love with him; dote on him as much; for the verb fond, see Abb. § 290.

33, 4. As I am … love, in my assumed character of a man, I have no hopes of winning my master’s love.

35. As I am … breathe, in my real character of a woman, what grief I am entailing upon Olivia!


How to cite the explanatory notes:

Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night Or What You Will. Ed. Kenneth Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1889.