Twelfth Night- critical quotations

Pretty nearly everybody in it but Viola and Sebastian… is at the extreme point where from excess of something or other he is about to be converted into something else. Goddard, 1951 on extreme and excess
Every character has his masks Summers, 1955 on masks
Malvolio is mad in his refusal to change… Lamb, 1980 on Malvolio and change
Change is the essence of sanity in Twelfth Night Lamb, 1980 on change
Identity and disguise motivate much of the action in the Twelfth Night. Greif, 1981 on identity and disguise
There is something anarchal about sexual desire which is to be feared, and the fear is less moral than political Eagleton, 1986 on sexual desire
But a silly play, not relating to the name or day Pepys 1661 on tradition of twelfth night
“…the drama is about death as much as it is love” Barton on death and love
[In Twelfth Night there is] a silvery undertone of sadness, which makes it perhaps the loveliest of allShakespeare’s high comedies Middleton Murray, 1936 on sadness
There is such thing as coming to a man’s estate, such a hard reality, for instance, as marriage, which all the cakes and ale will not turn into what it is not. Goddard, 1951 on cakes and ale
The reality of wind and rain wins out, the monotony of the everyday… there is nothing for it but resignation, the wise acceptance of the Fool. Barton, 1972 on monotony
Feste is an outsider because his experience has damaged his capacity for joy French, 1981 on Feste
[The subplot characters are frustrated because] the alternative to being attached to a big household like Olivia’s would be the beach, the doorway, hopelessness. Pennington, 1992 on subplot characters and their motivations
“Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is a feminist play at its heart, asserting the equality of men and women” Williams on feminism
“Twelfth Night is a play with a ‘moral process’ at work” Hollander on morality
“Twelfth Night is ultimately a play about substitutes” Kiberd on substitutes
“The revelers and practical jokers… are the least sympathetic players in Twelfth Night” Bloom on subplot characters
“Like all the other strongest plays by Shakespeare, Twelfth Night is of no genre” Bloom on genre
“As a sycophant, a social climber and an officious snob, [Malvolio] well deserves to be put back in his place” Levin on Malvolio and ambition
Feste [is]… the only sane character in a wild play” Bloom on Feste
We cannot but feel very sorry for [Feste]… He is fully justified, and he begs so amusingly that we welcome his begging; but shameless it is. Bradley on empathy for Feste
The movement of the whole play is that of a party Hollander on play’s structure
in both the Duke’s and Olivia’s case, Cesario kills ‘the flock of all affections else’ Hollander on effect of Cesario
The wise and the generous, then, survive their foolish mistakes, and profit Williams on status
The confrontation of Sebastian and Cesario-Viola… provides the means for the discarding of all the lovers’ masks. Summers on conclusion
“The apparently dead may be only hidden; the love-lorn are not hurting so very much.” Davies on the dead and deception
Malvolio is still around, closing the theaters Pennington, 1992 on Malvolio and Puritans
Viola, is herself in a kind of passive zany, since who else would fall in love with the self- intoxicated Orsino? Bloom, 1987 on Viola
Characters in love are simultaneously at their most ‘real’ and ‘unreal,’ most true and most feigning Eagleton, 1986 on characters in love
The disguised Viola becomes the agent required to free Orsino and Olivia from the bondage of their self- delusions. Greif, 1981 on Viola’s role
The tensions implicit in Shakespearean comedy are tensions of willed ignorance followed by knowledge. Garber, 1980 on tensions in comedy
[Malvolio] too is in the prison of his ego, but for him it is a gorgeous palace… In fact Malvolio is fully happy only when he is alone Leggatt, 1974 on Malvolio
[Feste] does not attempt to judge, or even to reason. He simply states fact Barton, 1972 on Feste’s purpose
[Feste] has an air of knowing more of life than anyone else- too much, in fact… Barber, 1959 on Feste’s wisdom
Shakespeare has built a world out of music and melancholy. Van Doren, 1939 on music
We are all, in varying degrees, insane… Some have graceful poetic madness, others a madness grotesque and trivial. E. Mont├ęgut, 1867 on madness
He (Malvolio) has Wit, Learning, and Discernment, but temper’d with an Allay of Envy, Self-Love, andDetraction Steele, 1711 on Malvolio
“The humiliation of Olivia in front of everyone when it turns out she’s married the wrong teenager” Bartlett, 2007 RSC on Olivia at the end of the play
“Viola won’t marry Orsino until she has her ownwomen’s clothes back and is therefore a woman again.” McEvoy, 2018 on the perception of gender
“That part of [Olivia’s] love which is composed of her sexual desire for him is not necessarily compromised by Sebastian having a different gender to Viola.” McEvoy, 2018 on Olivia and sexual desire
“[Shakespeare suggests] sexual identity is more plural, discontinuous and volatile” Ryan, 2002 on gender
“It is perfectly true that Malvolio’s own desire for Olivia is inextricably bound up with his own ambition” Levin, 1985

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