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MonkeyNotes-Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
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Notes

All the complications and misunderstanding that were an essential part of the main plot are resolved with the appearance of Viola and Sebastian on stage at the same time. The scene brings all the major characters on to the stage for the final resolution and yet a few minor details are left unresolved. What Antonio has done exactly to fear being arrested is left up in the air as it is battled out between him and the Duke and then is jettisoned by the larger ramifications which occur on stage with the news that Cesario and Olivia are married. Also why Viola’s sea captain has been imprisoned by Malvolio is also a detail which comes up in this last scene for the first time and is left open-ended. However, there is quite a bit that comes together in this scene and the unity of the characters and the plot is a stunning effort.

It is primarily Viola who is subjected to false accusations by a variety of characters which makes sense, considering that it is Viola who is the hub of the many mistaken identities which proliferate in this play.

From her arises many of the sticky situations and the double- crossing which occurs of the various affiliations she has made throughout the play, some known and others like Antonio are unknown. She is accused first by betraying Antonio who thinks she is Sebastian, then by the Duke who thinks she is his page and who has hoodwinked him by claiming herself for Olivia and by Olivia who cannot believe he does not acknowledge their marriage to each other. Not only them but also Sir Andrew and Sir Toby accuse the accursed "Cesario" of physically wounding them.


Complete chaos occurs at this moment where all of the various tendrils of the play are wound into a knot of recriminations directed towards Viola. Yet she can do nothing but attempt to rectify the situation through her own sturdy character and the passage of time which she had beseeched in an earlier act. Antonio’s accusations are dismissed by Duke Orsino, yet he is enraged by her infidelity to him and her love for Olivia. In fact, he becomes so impassioned that he intends to put Cesario/Viola to death and she accepts this without protest. His plan is interupted by Sir Toby and Sir Andrew who are physically maimed yet Cesario is too lithe a man to have done that much damage.

The arrival of Sebastian on the scene acts as the antidote to the situation, and propels the complex machinations of the plot to clear. His appearance, which at first exacerbates the confusion because he and Viola are dressed in men’s clothes and look identical, eventually brings logic and order to a very chaotic scene.

At the news that Viola is a woman and Sebastian is married to Olivia, the Duke accepts the changed situation with surprising equanimity. Although he had earlier declared his love for Olivia in an effusive manner, he shifts his affections from Olivia to Viola with remarkable ease. The Duke could be seen as someone in love with the idea of love rather than with Olivia although it is true he showed warm affection for Viola throughout the play and actually knew her as opposed to being in love with the idea of her. Olivia too accepts Sebastian as a husband without any protest. Viola, however, is justifiably rewarded for her loyalty to the Duke and reaps the greatest reward as he has been constant although somewhat misguided throughout the play. Her deep and true love for the Duke is in sharp contrast to the Duke's love for Olivia, and the passionate love of Olivia for Cesario/Viola.

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MonkeyNotes-Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
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