Mr. & Mrs. Belch?

Twelfth Night, Act II: Scenes 1-5

  • Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em

In Act II, we discover that Viola’s twin brother, Sebastian, did not drown. He is headed for Duke Orsino’s court, thinking just as Viola did about him, that she has perished at sea.

He is loved unrequitedly by Antonio. This dynamic adds to the homosexual undercurrent running throughout the play, with Olivia’s attraction to a “man” who happens to be a woman, and the Duke’s favors toward a “man” who happens to be a woman.

The rest of the act is taken up by a prank played on the Puritanical Malvolio by Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and, most notably, the devilish Maria.

Maria conceives the scheme to drop a phony love letter in Malvolio’s path, designed to convince him that Olivia worships the ground he walks on.

By following the advice set out for him, Malvolio will unwittingly do all the wrong things in front of his lady love: smile while she’s in mourning, act hautily toward fellow servants, wear yellow — a color she hates — and crossed laces, which she abhors as glaringly unfashionable. In short, he is about to make an utter buffoon of himself.

The sheer deviousness of the plot makes a bit of a hero out of Maria. Toby in particular finds a girl with just the high spirits he is looking for:

TOBY: I could marry this wench for this device.

It’s Brad and Angie, 16th Century style.

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