Friday, October 11, 2013

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night. William Shakespeare. 1601-02. 272 pages. [Source: Bought]

If music be the food of love, play on;

I've always loved that line: "If music be the food of love, play on;" but I have to admit I love it even more after falling in love with this little music video.

This is one of the Shakespeare plays with cross-dressing. I love this Dorothy Sayers' quote in Whose Body: "I'm sure if I'd been a Shakespeare hero, the very minute I saw a slim-legged young page-boy I'd have said: "Odsbodikins! There's that girl again!"

Twelfth Night is one of the Shakespeare comedies that I am quite familiar with. I think this was my fourth time to read it. I don't love it because it's romantic or oh-so-magical. Of the couples that end up together, I'm not sure any of them are truly, deeply in love with each other. I don't doubt for one second that Viola loves the Duke (Orsino). But as for the Duke's oh-so-easy transference of love from Olivia to Viola, whom he has only known as Cesario, I'm not convinced. Same goes with Olivia's transference of her affections from Viola (dressed as Cesario) to Sebastian. Sebastian, well, he gets an instant wife, I'm not sure he's complaining though. The happy endings are rushed and superficial perhaps.

I think the reason I keep reading Twelfth Night is that it's enjoyable, entertaining, fun. It's also one of the few Shakespeare plays that I've seen performed. It's a merry little play with clever little exchanges between characters. I just like it.

Favorite quotes:
If music be the food of love, play on;
O spirit of love, how quick and fresh art thou!
If you be not mad, be gone; if you have reason, be brief:
It shall be inventoried; and every particle and utensil labeled to my will: as item, two lips indifferent red; item, two grey eyes with lids to them; item, one neck, one chin, and so forth. 
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.
Them that dally nicely with words may quickly make them wanton.
Words are very rascals.
Words are grown so false I am loath to prove reason with them.
I would you were as I would have you be!
Love sought is good, but given unsought is better. 
Example of banter:
Duke: I know thee well. How dost thou, my good fellow?
Clown: Truly, sir, the better for my foes and the worse for my friends.
Duke: Just the contrary; the better for thy friends.
Clown: No, sir, the worse.
Duke: How can that be?
Clown: Marry, sir, they praise me and make an ass of me; now my foes tell me plainly I am an ass: so that by my foes, sir, I profit in the knowledge of myself, and by my friends I am abused; so that, conclusions to be as kisses, if your four negatives make your two affirmatives, why then, the worse for my friends and the better for my foes.  
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Melissa (Avid Reader) 11:07 AM  

This has always been one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. I agree that the quick transference of feelings at the end is a bit contrived, but there are so many great parts in the play.

hopeinbrazil 9:12 AM  

I haven't read this one. Thanks for posting about it.

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