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Twelfth Night
William Shakespeare




_____ 1. Orsino's obsession with love is reflected in his frequent desire

    A. to eat
    B. to hear music
    C. to dance
_____ 2. In Acts I & II, Viola and Sebastian are both sad because
    A. their father is dead
    B. they lost all their wealth in the shipwreck
    C. each thinks the other is dead
_____ 3. Sir Toby keeps Sir Andrew around because
    A. they are old army friends
    B. Andrew makes him laugh
    C. Andrew lends him money
_____ 4. Maria makes a good match for Toby because they
    I. are equally clever
    II. both like mischief
    III. are both rich
    A. I only
    B. I and II only
    C. I, II, and III
_____ 5. When Viola tells Orsino about the love "her sister" had for a man, she's really talking about
    A. her own love for Orsino
    B. her mother's love for her father
    C. Olivia's love for Cesario
_____ 6. Sir Andrew starts quarrels but never fights because
    A. he's too gentle at heart
    B. his reputation frightens his opponents
    C. he's a coward
_____ 7. Before he finds Maria's letter, Malvolio is
    A. thinking about marrying Olivia
    B. taking a ring to Cesario
    C. trading quips with Feste
_____ 8. When Toby asks Malvolio "Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?" he means
    A. just because you don't have fun doesn't mean others can't
    B. you should not expect virtue to overcome appetite
    C. cakes and ale cannot be equated
_____ 9. When Olivia first sees Sebastian, she
    A. has him arrested
    B. thinks he is Cesario
    C. is in disguise
_____ 10. Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are given "bloody coxcombs" by
    A. Orsino
    B. Antonio
    C. Sebastian

11. Compare the social conditions of Shakespeare's London and Twelfth Night's Illyria.

12. How do we know that Orsino is in love with love?

13. Why does Malvolio fall for Maria's practical joke?

14. What is Feste's function in the play?

15. What do we learn about the characters from the way they speak?


_____ 1. The Sea Captain tells Viola that Orsino is

    A. an affectioned ass
    B. wise enough to play the fool
    C. a noble duke
_____ 2. Sir Andrew says he's going home because
    A. Olivia has no interest in him
    B. Toby hurt his feelings
    C. he's out of money
_____ 3. The first time Olivia meets Cesario, she
    A. falls in love with him
    B. knows he is a girl in disguise
    C. will not talk to him
_____ 4. Maria's letter instructs Malvolio to
    I. put on yellow stockings
    II. dance a jig
    III. smile constantly
    A. I and II only
    B. II and III only
    C. I and III only
_____ 5. When Malvolio seems mad, Olivia says she
    A. may command where she adores
    B. cannot love him
    C. would not have him miscarry for the half of her dowry
_____ 6. Sir Andrew changes his mind about challenging Cesario because
    A. Sir Toby says Cesario is his cousin
    B. Sir Toby says Cesario is a very good swordsman
    C. Olivia forbids fighting
_____ 7. When Viola says her sister "let concealment, like a worm i' the bud, / feed on her damask cheek," she's using a
    I. simile
    II. metaphor
    III. hyperbole
    A. I and II only
    B. I and III only
    C. II and III only
_____ 8. Malvolio's attitude towards those who played the joke on him is
    A. sarcastic
    B. whimsical
    C. vengeful
_____ 9. Viola refuses Antonio's request for his purse because
    A. she needs the money
    B. he never gave it to her
    C. she wants revenge on him
_____ 10. When Olivia wants to marry him, Sebastian is
    A. amazed and delighted
    B. glad of the chance to get a rich wife
    C. shocked at the speed of her proposal

11. By comparing Feste and Sir Andrew, explore the different meanings of the word "fool."

12. Discuss the significance of disguise in Twelfth Night.

13. How are the Romantic Plot and the Low Comic Plot thematically unified?

14. Based on this play, what would you say was Shakespeare's attitude towards human foolishness?

15. What do you learn from the songs Feste sings?


  1. B
  2. C
  3. C
  4. B
  5. A
  6. C
  7. A
  8. A
  9. B
  10. C

11. Use the section of this book about "The Author and His Times" to help you. You could start by pointing out that in Illyria, as in Elizabethan England, you find a well-defined social order. Talk about what we learn about each class from the example of the characters as Shakespeare draws them.

Another parallel exists in the fact that, in Elizabethan England, social climbing was possible, but was not always considered admirable. Examine Sir Andrew's lack of skill in courtly virtues in the light of his wealth and the fact that, in Elizabethan England, it was possible to buy a title. It's especially profitable to look at Malvolio from the point of view of social climbing. Explore how the possibility of improving his status could both lead to his actions and explain why the others so dislike him. Show how Feste is free to move among the various levels of society, just as Elizabethan fools could.

You can also deal with the Romantic Plot in terms of the medieval ideal of Courtly Love as inherited by the Elizabethans. Orsino makes a good example. Show how his fixation with Olivia reflects the Courtly convention of the chaste lover.

Finally, you can point out how the resolution of Twelfth Night reaffirms the Elizabethan sense of order. Mention the fact that those who tried to rise above their "rightful station" are punished. Suitable partners are found for all the marriageable characters. A sense of balance is restored to Illyria.

12. Orsino's character description in this book will help you. You can also use the discussion of Romantic Love in the "themes" section.

Orsino says he is in love with Olivia. Do his words and actions support that claim? Which does he seem to want more- Olivia, or that sweet Romantic feeling that her rejection gives him? What about the fact that he stays home and sends messengers to do his talking for him? Do you believe he's really trying to win the lady's hand?

Discuss the content of Orsino's speeches. Note how often he speaks about love in the abstract and how relatively little he actually says about Olivia. Also examine Orsino's preoccupation with music. Pay special attention to the song Feste sings in Act II, Scene iv.

13. The chink in Malvolio's armor is his self-love, or vanity. Show how Maria's deception is shrewdly chosen from that point of view. Demonstrate how clearly Maria sees him by comparing what she says about him (Act II, Scene iii) with what we know about the man from observation. He does act like a Puritan when others are around. When he's alone in the garden, however, we learn that he's really only concerned with social status.

Self love makes Malvolio blind. If he had any objectivity, he would have to at least wonder about the letter's authenticity. His behavior the next time he sees Olivia (Act III, Scene iv) shocks the lady. Malvolio, however, is too self-absorbed to notice.

14. To answer this question, consider the function of an "allowed" fool. He was essentially an entertainer.

Clarify what Feste does and does not do. Feste never advances the plot. He takes part in the practical joke played on Malvolio, but it's not his idea. He never seems to want anything from the other characters except whatever money he can beg from them.

Therefore, Feste has a sense of perspective that the others lack. Cite several ways he helps to put the others and their actions into perspective. Look at his conversation with Olivia about her brother in Act I, Scene v. What do we learn about Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Maria from the way he relates to them?

You might wish to comment on the way Feste resembles some modern-day comedians. Can you think of any entertainers who, while making us laugh, also give us insights into ourselves and our society?

15. Here you can talk about Shakespeare's use of language. Refer to this guide's discussion of style for help. Show how characters are revealed by the imagery they use. Orsino's love is excessive and indulgent. Therefore, his speech is filled with sensual images (food, flowers) and talk of death. Viola's love is simple and genuine. When she speaks of love, her statements are spare and poignant. (See Act I, Scene v, lines 273-281 and Act II, Scene iv, lines 125-133.) Find other examples.

Sometimes we can see the truth behind a misleading appearance by paying attention to the way the character uses language. One example would be Sir Toby. He may appear to be nothing more than a drunkard. When we look at how cleverly he uses words in his scenes with Maria and Feste, we get a deeper insight into his character.


  1. C
  2. A
  3. A
  4. C
  5. C
  6. B
  7. A
  8. C
  9. B
  10. A

11. As Feste points out in Act III, Scene i, words can have several meanings. "Fool" is no exception. To talk about the word as it applies to Feste, use the same approach as in answering question 14 of Test 1. Feste's "foolery" both entertains and instructs.

Andrew, on the other hand, fits a more literal definition of a fool. He is a simpleton, what the Elizabethans would call a "natural" fool. As Viola says, Feste must be keenly aware of everything going on around him. Andrew never quite knows what's going on. Feste's skill demands that he know several meanings for every word. Andrew has trouble following the drift of a simple conversation. Find more ways of contrasting the two. Support your statements with examples from the text.

12. You can talk about the significance of disguise from two points of view: 1) how it affects the plot, and 2) how it works thematically. Viola's disguise is a major plot device. Wearing her disguise, she comes into the middle of the impasse between Orsino and Olivia. When she removes her disguise, the conflict is resolved. Trace how the complications arise step by step as a consequence of her disguise. Incidental disguises, such as Feste's as Sir Topas, help to unify the various plots.

Thematically, the use of disguise reminds us that people are not always what they appear to be. Discuss the way Orsino "disguises" himself when he claims to be in love with Olivia. Malvolio and Andrew also attempt to disguise their true natures. You might discuss the way the latter two are even disguised from themselves, that is, they are self-deceived.

13. Both plots deal with the exposure of human folly. In the Romantic Plot, we see the mad behavior produced by the excesses of love. Discuss the types of foolishness exhibited by Orsino and Olivia. The Low Comic Plot deals mainly with the types of foolishness engendered by pride and vanity. Give examples.

Another theme that unifies the plots is the idea that love is madness. Pick several characters from each plot and show how their mad behavior is dictated by love (which can also mean self-love, remember). For example, you might talk about Olivia's love for Viola, Antonio's love for Sebastian, and Malvolio's love for himself, and how each behaves foolishly as a consequence.

14. From the evidence of this play, it appears that Shakespeare accepted and forgave human foolishness. He saw that everybody was driven to behave foolishly at times. Give an overview of the reasons people behave foolishly in Twelfth Night. Mention that even the noble characters are prone to foolishness. Still, Shakespeare did not excuse such behavior. He saw it as a problem that needed to be set right. In the end of the play, the fools are all exposed. The characters who see beyond their past foolishness are rewarded. Those who can't (Malvolio in particular) continue to suffer. So you could say that Shakespeare seemed to view foolishness as an unavoidable part of human existence. But he seemed to regard it as a forgivable sin.

15. Each of the songs relates specifically to a character, a set of characters or a theme. Use the sections of the scene-by-scene analysis that refer to the scenes in which each song appears.

In Act II, Scene iii, Feste sings two songs. The first, "O mistress mine, where are you roaming?" relates to the Romantic plot. Discuss how it does. Pay special attention to the line "Journeys end in lovers meeting" (that foreshadows the end of the play). The second song comments on the Low Comic characters.

In Act II, Scene iv, he sings "Come away death" at Orsino's request. Explore what this song tells us about Orsino's character. Viola also understands the feeling of the song. Tell why.

This book's analysis of the play's final scene examines Feste's last song in detail. Describe how the song helps to put the play in perspective.

[Twelfth Night Contents]


    1. Trace the effects of Viola's disguise throughout the play.
    2. How does the fact that Malvolio presents himself to the world as a Puritan relate to his own self- deception?
    3. In what way is the fool in disguise? Discuss the manner in which he disguises his wisdom as "foolery."
    4. Contrast the way in which Viola disguises herself to others with the way Malvolio, Orsino and Sir Andrew deceive themselves.
    5. Viola says that disguise is a wickedness. Is that how it functions in Twelfth Night?
  • LOVE
    1. Identify four types of love in Twelfth Night. Discuss what the play has to say about each.
    2. How does Viola's love for Orsino differ from Orsino's love for Olivia?
    3. How does the concept of Romantic, Courtly Love affect the characters?
    4. Write about Twelfth Night as an exploration of the madness of love.
    5. Identify as many types of false love in the play as possible. Contrast each with Viola's true love.
    1. How does Viola keep her balance despite her difficult situation?
    2. Discuss the many sides of Olivia's personality we see in the play.
    3. How does Feste interact with each of the other characters? What do we learn about each of those characters from Feste?
    4. What makes Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek such a comic team?
    5. Each of the characters who pair off in the end to be married is well-suited to his or her mate. In what way? How do we know that?
    6. Does Twelfth Night have a central character, or is it equally concerned with several? If there is a central character, who is it? If there isn't, is there a central idea to which each character relates?
    1. How is the imagery of music developed throughout the play?
    2. Using one of the following characters, show how Shakespeare uses language to reveal character:
        Orsino Sir Toby Belch Viola Malvolio
    3. PLOT
      1. Identify as many separate plots as you can. Show how they are woven together.
      2. Is Twelfth Night a unified play or an assembly of separate plots? Explain.
      3. Explore whether any of the plot lines could exist without the others. Does each contain its own independent chain of causes and reactions?
      4. How do the Romantic plot and the Low Comic plot reflect one another?
      5. Shakespeare has to make several implausible plot twists seem believable. Identify three and show how, as a dramatist, he handles each.
      1. Discuss the humiliation of Malvolio as the story of a social climber who gets his comeuppance.
      2. Identify the levels of society in Twelfth Night. Explore in what ways they are similar to each other and in what ways they differ.
      3. In what ways does the action of Twelfth Night temporarily turn the social order topsy-turvey?
      4. How does Feste fit into the social structure of the play?

[Twelfth Night Contents]



An ancient poet who jumped ship to avoid being murdered by his crew; he was rescued by a dolphin.

The devil.

A sweet wine from the Canary Islands.

Coal seller.

A dance with quick steps.

Someone whose wife deceives him with another man.

Blended red and white.


A castrated boy, valued for his soprano voice.


A lively dance.


The river of forgetfulness in Hades.

A god noted for trickiness.

Particolored garb of a court fool.


Queen of the Amazons.

God's eyelid.

Shah of Persia.

A bass viol.

THE STORY, continued

ECC [Twelfth Night Contents] []

© Copyright 1985 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
Electronically Enhanced Text © Copyright 1993, World Library, Inc.
Further distribution without the written consent of, Inc. is prohibited.

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