Twelfth Night (Folger Shakespeare Library Series)

Twelfth Night (Folger Shakespeare Library Series) - Thanks to PBS' Shakespeare Uncovered it was suddenly time for a reread. The Comedies (With Joely Richardson) episode had some wonderful clips of both this play and As You Like It, and discussion of women in Shakespeare's plays. (If you catch that link in time, you may be able to watch the entire video/episode. I think this series is going to make me reread a lot, and perhaps get on to some of the plays I've meant to read.)I do remember that what kept this from four stars was Sir Toby and his gang. If they hadn't taken up so much time I'd have gone in for more stars, because I never do enjoy their humor. Not when reading the play, that is.Random quotes and ponderings while reading:...It's weird reading this after hearing (in Shakespeare Uncovered) that for many Malvolio is the focus of the play, or at least as far as the comedy goes - and the part was apparently wildly popular with audiences. (It's definitely the plum role for an actor.) But I suppose that holds true if you're watching more for the comedy than the love story - and I was always more apt to read quickly over the more annoying (to me) comedy stuff to get back to the romance. Personally I always ignored Malvolio in my hatred of Sir Toby Belch - but then I never do find "loud, usually-drunk guy" (like Falstaff) very amusing in comedy. (Or reality, for that matter.)It reminds me of some books where an author decides to hop from one story and group of characters to another - and the reader becomes annoyed because "what IS going to happen to group one, which I'm more interested in????!" That's always been how I've read the Malvolio/Sir Toby bits in the past....A quote that makes you wonder what story was behind it! When saying that she can write in Olivia's handwriting, Act II scene iii:MARIA:...I can write very like my lady, your niece; on a forgotten matter we can hardly make distinction of our hands.That in itself is an idea for another farce....Ah ha. I'm remembering now another reason why I've hated Sir Toby. He basically gets Sir Andrew to hang around by encouraging him to woo Olivia - but it's only so that Toby can suck up as much ale as possible on Sir Andrew's dime. He'd happily sell his niece for drink. What a nice guy. Of course Sir Andrew's not in love - he's only after Olivia for money, as far as we can tell....Act II scene iv - I love this bit. Orsino, the Duke, is speaking to Viola, who is dressed as boy. Orsino seems to be saying that women don't fare well in age - and Viola pops in to immediately point out that they in fact get more perfect:DUKE.Then let thy love be younger than thyself,Or thy affection cannot hold the bent:For women are as roses, whose fair flower,Being once display'd, doth fall that very hour.VIOLA.And so they are: alas, that they are so;To die, even when they to perfection grow!Actually I love this entire scene, but that's the easiest bit to quote....I do love when the fourth wall breaks like this - it's the author's way of admitting when things are a bit over the top. Act III, Scene iv:MALVOLIO: Go, hang yourselves all! you are idle shallow things: I am not of your element; you shall know more hereafter.[Exit.]SIR TOBY:Is't possible?FABIAN:If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction.SIR TOBY:His very genius hath taken the infection of the device, man.MARIA:Nay, pursue him now; lest the device take air and taint.FABIAN:Why, we shall make him mad indeed.It's the first line of Fabian's I was thinking of, but I left the rest because it's worth noting that the conspirators may not really think they were actually going to drive Malvolio mad. Are they assuming it's a feigned madness (in Malvolio's confusion of what's real) or something that may push him to the real sort? Unfortunately they picked the wrong dupe for this kind of game, and he fell in a bit too deep. Perhaps the 4th wall break is also a way of reminding us "pay no mind to how Malvolio's madness is treated and remember this is comedy." Malvolio's treatment does seem cruel, but then again, if he weren't so pompous, I'd probably feel a bit more sympathy for him. Also in the time period for a servant to consider himself the equal, never mind the beloved, of his master/mistress - well, that was A Big Deal. (Especially a male servant and a lady, that was big on the Not Allowed list.)...The play contains two (or at least only two that immediately come to mind) quotes that I've seen people use in places like tumblr as "isn't this wonderful" and "ah, love" kind of citations. You know, the ones in jpgs with script and - only if you're lucky - the name of the play. Usually it's just attributed to Shakespeare. (Which always makes me wonder, do some people think it doesn't matter to cite where quotes come from anymore? Because people do this a lot, and more online in the past decade than previously.) And, er, the quotes don't really work the way some folk are citing them. Putting them over a floral image or picture of doves or lovers doesn't make a quote work any better if that's not the context.Examples:Act I, Scene i, opening lines of the play, spoken by OrsinoDUKE:If music be the food of love, play on,Give me excess of it; that, surfeiting,The appetite may sicken and so die.If you just take the first line you can go with the "ah love" jazz - but with full sentence the meaning is different - this is someone that wants to be given too much of it so that he can become sick of the thing and get it over with already. Sort of like eating to excess, then vomiting, and then never wanting that dish again. That's not a thought you want to put on a valentine's day card, sorry. And yes, Orsino is being overly dramatic (melodramatic) about his love. But then, it's a comedy.Act II, Scene v, Malvolio reading a note he believes is from Olivia:MALVOLIO:'If this fall into thy hand, revolve. In my stars I am above thee; but be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Thy fates open their hands; let thy blood and spirit embrace them.'However, the letter isn't really from Olivia, the whole thing is a trap to get Malvolio to make an even greater fool of himself than normally would occur. So quoting this line - without realizing what Malvolio is within the play - and just thinking it's a commentary on rising above one's birth, or a statement on class and society - nope, that's going to be a bad cite. And only to be placed on a List of Encouraging Quotes if you think emulating Malvolio is a good thing. (You can find people doing this online with Polonius and "to thine own self be true" - without realizing what kind of guy Polonius is - because yes, that does matter - he's the guy no young person would want to emulate. Come to think of it, this would be a great grade school exercise to teach what "context" means - without even reading the plays, just use wikipedia descriptions and then show the quotes in context.)