List iconTwelfth NightList icon

Twelfth Night
Act 2, scene 4

Synopsis:

Contents

Characters in the Play

Entire Play

Twelfth Night—an allusion to the night of festivity preceding the Christian celebration of the Epiphany—combines love, confusion, mistaken identities, and…

Act 1, scene 1

At his court, Orsino, sick with love for the Lady Olivia, learns from his messenger that she is grieving for…

Act 1, scene 2

On the Adriatic seacoast, Viola, who has been saved from a shipwreck in which her brother may have drowned, hears…

Act 1, scene 3

At the estate of Lady Olivia, Sir Toby Belch, Olivia’s kinsman, has brought in Sir Andrew Aguecheek to be her…

Act 1, scene 4

At Orsino’s court, Viola, disguised as a page and calling herself Cesario, has gained the trust of Orsino, who decides…

Act 1, scene 5

Viola, in her disguise as Cesario, appears at Olivia’s estate. Olivia allows Cesario to speak with her privately about Orsino’s…

Act 2, scene 1

A young gentleman named Sebastian, who has recently been saved from a shipwreck in which his sister has been lost,…

Act 2, scene 2

Malvolio finds the disguised Viola and “returns” the ring. Viola, alone, realizes that Olivia has fallen in love with Cesario…

Act 2, scene 3

At Olivia’s estate, Toby, Andrew, and the Fool hold a late night party. Maria comes in to quiet them, followed…

Act 2, scene 4

Orsino asks for a song to relieve his love-longing. In conversation about the capacities for love in men and in…

Act 2, scene 5

Maria lays her trap for Malvolio by placing her forged letter in his path. From their hiding place, Toby, Andrew,…

Act 3, scene 1

Viola (as Cesario), on her way to see Olivia, encounters first the Fool and then Sir Toby and Sir Andrew….

Act 3, scene 2

Sir Andrew, convinced that Olivia will never love him, threatens to leave. Sir Toby persuades him that he can win…

Act 3, scene 3

Antonio, having followed Sebastian, explains the incident in his past that keeps him from safely venturing into the streets of…

Act 3, scene 4

Malvolio, dressed ridiculously and smiling grotesquely, appears before an astonished Olivia. Thinking him insane, she puts him in the care…

Act 4, scene 1

The Fool encounters Sebastian, whom he mistakes for Cesario. When Sir Andrew and Sir Toby attack Sebastian, the Fool fetches…

Act 4, scene 2

Under directions from Sir Toby, the Fool disguises himself as a parish priest and visits the imprisoned Malvolio. In his…

Act 4, scene 3

While Sebastian is sure that neither he nor Olivia is insane, he is amazed by the wonder of his new…

Act 5, scene 1

Orsino, at Olivia’s estate, sends the Fool to bring Olivia to him. Antonio is brought in by officers and he…

Include links to:

Images
Glosses
Audio
Video
Essays
Quill icon
Scene 4
Enter Orsino, Viola, Curio, and others.

ORSINO 
 Give me some music. Music plays. Now, good
 morrow, friends.—
 Now, good Cesario, but that piece of song,
 That old and antique song we heard last night.
5 Methought it did relieve my passion much,
 More than light airs and recollected terms
 Of these most brisk and giddy-pacèd times.
 Come, but one verse.
CURIO He is not here, so please your Lordship, that
10 should sing it.
ORSINO Who was it?
CURIO Feste the jester, my lord, a Fool that the Lady
 Olivia’s father took much delight in. He is about
 the house.
ORSINO 
15 Seek him out Curio exits, and play the tune the
 while.Music plays.
 To Viola. Come hither, boy. If ever thou shalt love,
 In the sweet pangs of it remember me,
 For such as I am, all true lovers are,
20 Unstaid and skittish in all motions else
 Save in the constant image of the creature
 That is beloved. How dost thou like this tune?
VIOLA 
 It gives a very echo to the seat
 Where love is throned.
ORSINO 25 Thou dost speak masterly.
 My life upon ’t, young though thou art, thine eye
 Hath stayed upon some favor that it loves.
 Hath it not, boy?
VIOLA  A little, by your favor.

69
Twelfth Night
ACT 2. SC. 4

ORSINO 
30 What kind of woman is ’t?
VIOLA  Of your complexion.
ORSINO 
 She is not worth thee, then. What years, i’ faith?
VIOLA About your years, my lord.
ORSINO 
 Too old, by heaven. Let still the woman take
35 An elder than herself. So wears she to him;
 So sways she level in her husband’s heart.
 For, boy, however we do praise ourselves,
 Our fancies are more giddy and unfirm,
 More longing, wavering, sooner lost and worn,
40 Than women’s are.
VIOLA  I think it well, my lord.
ORSINO 
 Then let thy love be younger than thyself,
 Or thy affection cannot hold the bent.
 For women are as roses, whose fair flower,
45 Being once displayed, doth fall that very hour.
VIOLA 
 And so they are. Alas, that they are so,
 To die even when they to perfection grow!

Enter Curio and Feste, the Fool.

ORSINO 
 O, fellow, come, the song we had last night.—
 Mark it, Cesario. It is old and plain;
50 The spinsters and the knitters in the sun
 And the free maids that weave their thread with
 bones
 Do use to chant it. It is silly sooth,
 And dallies with the innocence of love
55 Like the old age.
FOOL Are you ready, sir?
ORSINO Ay, prithee, sing.Music.

71
Twelfth Night
ACT 2. SC. 4

The Song.

FOOL 
 Come away, come away, death,
  And in sad cypress let me be laid.
60 Fly away, fly away, breath,
  I am slain by a fair cruel maid.
 My shroud of white, stuck all with yew,
  O, prepare it!
 My part of death, no one so true
65  Did share it.

 Not a flower, not a flower sweet
  On my black coffin let there be strown;
 Not a friend, not a friend greet
  My poor corpse where my bones shall be thrown.
70 A thousand thousand sighs to save,
  Lay me, O, where
 Sad true lover never find my grave
  To weep there.

ORSINO, giving money There’s for thy pains.
FOOL 75No pains, sir. I take pleasure in singing, sir.
ORSINO I’ll pay thy pleasure, then.
FOOL Truly sir, and pleasure will be paid, one time or
 another.
ORSINO Give me now leave to leave thee.
FOOL 80Now the melancholy god protect thee and the
 tailor make thy doublet of changeable taffeta, for thy
 mind is a very opal. I would have men of such
 constancy put to sea, that their business might be
 everything and their intent everywhere, for that’s it
85 that always makes a good voyage of nothing.
 Farewell.He exits.
ORSINO 
 Let all the rest give place.
All but Orsino and Viola exit.
 Once more, Cesario,

73
Twelfth Night
ACT 2. SC. 4

 Get thee to yond same sovereign cruelty.
90 Tell her my love, more noble than the world,
 Prizes not quantity of dirty lands.
 The parts that Fortune hath bestowed upon her,
 Tell her, I hold as giddily as Fortune.
 But ’tis that miracle and queen of gems
95 That nature pranks her in attracts my soul.
VIOLA But if she cannot love you, sir—
ORSINO 
 I cannot be so answered.
VIOLA  Sooth, but you must.
 Say that some lady, as perhaps there is,
100 Hath for your love as great a pang of heart
 As you have for Olivia. You cannot love her;
 You tell her so. Must she not then be answered?
ORSINO There is no woman’s sides
 Can bide the beating of so strong a passion
105 As love doth give my heart; no woman’s heart
 So big, to hold so much; they lack retention.
 Alas, their love may be called appetite,
 No motion of the liver but the palate,
 That suffer surfeit, cloyment, and revolt;
110 But mine is all as hungry as the sea,
 And can digest as much. Make no compare
 Between that love a woman can bear me
 And that I owe Olivia.
VIOLA  Ay, but I know—
ORSINO 115What dost thou know?
VIOLA 
 Too well what love women to men may owe.
 In faith, they are as true of heart as we.
 My father had a daughter loved a man
 As it might be, perhaps, were I a woman,
120 I should your Lordship.
ORSINO  And what’s her history?

75
Twelfth Night
ACT 2. SC. 5

VIOLA 
 A blank, my lord. She never told her love,
 But let concealment, like a worm i’ th’ bud,
 Feed on her damask cheek. She pined in thought,
125 And with a green and yellow melancholy
 She sat like Patience on a monument,
 Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed?
 We men may say more, swear more, but indeed
 Our shows are more than will; for still we prove
130 Much in our vows but little in our love.
ORSINO 
 But died thy sister of her love, my boy?
VIOLA 
 I am all the daughters of my father’s house,
 And all the brothers, too—and yet I know not.
 Sir, shall I to this lady?
ORSINO 135 Ay, that’s the theme.
 To her in haste. Give her this jewel. Say
 My love can give no place, bide no denay.
He hands her a jewel and they exit.