Skip to main content
Create interactive lessons using any digital content including wikis with our free sister product
. Get it on the
Pages and Files
Act I, Scene 5
Act II, Scene 5
Act III, Scene 4
Act IV, Scene 2
Act V, Scene 1
Act III, Scene 4
"EN GARDE! TOUCHE!"
ACT III, SCENE 4
Relevance of This Scene to the Play
'and some have greatness thrust upon them' (3.4.49-50) "
In this scene, the whole guise of mistaken identity and complex plans and love triangles begins to unravel and begin a downward spiral to the truth. Previously, Malvolio received a letter supposedly from Olivia, proclaiming her love to this man servant. Now, Malvolio goes to his love, Olivia, with cross-gartered, yellow stockings and a manner which Olivia declares to be mentally unstable. She puts him in the care of Toby who has him locked in a pitch-black room. This is the undoing of Malvolio, a pompous character who mistreats the rest of the members of the household. Next in the scene, Viola and Andrew begin to duel over Olivia. The bout between these two characters reveals the manipulation of our fighters by Sir Toby and Fabian, who are causing the fight for their own entertainment. In the midst of the sword fight, a stranger to Viola, Antonio, comes in to defend her having mistaken Cesario for Sebastian. By defending Viola, Antonio is arrested and requests he receive his purse back that he had given to Sebastian in a previous scene. Viola is utterly confused, but now suspects that Sebastian may still be alive. Antonio throws a wrench in the plans because now everyone is confused as to who this mysterious man is, who is Sebastian and many other mysteries. Overall, this scene is crucial in unraveling the confusing plot of mistaken identities in this story and it starts the play on the track to resolution.
"Away to the dungeon for Malvolio; hope he repents his sins"
Why Lines Can Be Cut From This Scene
A lot of the scene has repetition that can be taken out without altering the meaning of the dialogue. For instance, when Toby was with Malvolio and decided to address what was possessing him, he says, "Why, how now, my
? How dost, thou,
?" (121). Both of these greetings mean the same thing, and therefore one can be taken out and we still get that Toby is patronizing Malvolio in order to drive the man into further insanity. Then Maria pleas to Toby to "Get him to say his prayers"(127). Maria repeated this twice, however, so one can be taken out with the message remaining intact.
Later in the Act, after Toby read Andrew's challenge letter, Toby said to Fabian, "He will find it comes from a
" (197). This sentence can also be deleted because it is simply repeating the sentence before it, which states "this letter, being so excellently ignorant, will breed no terror in the youth" (196). The sentence on line 196 is more descriptive of Andrew's idiocy than the clodpoll line. Then, Toby was talking to Fabian about how Cesario and Andrew will be so scared of each other that "they will kill o
"Awww, you shouldn't have. Really...you shouldn't have..."
ne another by the look, like
" (203). Cockatrices and killing each other by looking at one another have the same meaning, therefore, both do not need to be stated. It is wiser to keep "they will kill one another by the look" because that better explains what will happen where as the cockatrice reference is more vague and not everyone may be able to understand it.
Even later in the Act, when Antonio was expressing his anger about what he thought was Sebastian's betrayal, his repetitiveness did not add much value. The rhetorical question, "Is 't possible that my deserts to you/ Can lack persuasion?" can be deleted because the same idea was expressed by the following lines(365).
"Watch out Shakespeare, Andrew Aguecheek is hot on your tail"
Irrelevance is another cause for a lot of the scene cuts. If something does not add to plot or character development, we don't need it. So, in line 2 when Olivia says "He says he'll come. How shall I feast him? What bestow of him?", "How shall I feast him?" is irrelevant to the rest of the conversation (2). All we need to know is that Cesario is coming and Olivia wants to give him something. When Malvolio says, "If it please the eye of one, it is with me as the very true sonnet is:
'Please one, and please all'
" (23) does not need to be in the act because it doesn't add anything. What we need to know is that Malvolio is acting very oddly, which the previous lines show.
Later, when Toby was reading Andrew's challenge letter allowed, almost all of Fabian's lines can be taken out (158-173). They add no value to the dialogue and though Fabian is trying to encourage Andrew, he does so later on, so we do not need these comments here comments.
Also, Malvolio reciting the letter to Olivia, talking about the yellow stockings, wearing cross-garters, and other lines (52-60) can be taken out because we know he is acting strangely already and is following the letter. The only thing this adds is his creepiness, but the previous lines cover that. What needs to be kept in that dialogue is that Olivia thinks "this is very midsummer madness!" (61) because that line emphasizes how strange this whole encounter is and adds humor to the whole plot, because the entire plot is a little midsummer madness.
Excessive detail and filler words break the flow of the play and typically cause confusion. One example of excessive detail would be when Sir Toby says "on, or strip you sword stark naked,for.." (259-260), because he is just explaining that Viola must take out her sword to fight. We already know that Viola needs to fight. Even similes from this play can be taken out because they are unnecessary, such as the line, "This is uncivil as strange" (63). Also, the lines beginning with, "even to a mortal arbitrament.." (270-271) can be deleted from this scene because Fabian is a minor character and these lines do not add to the plot and the same message can be said in fewer lines.
Next, where Fabian begins to describe Sir Andrew as "Nothing of that wonderful promise, to read him by his form, as you are like to find him in the proof of his valor" (274-276) can be cut because it's easier if Fabian cuts to the chase about Sir Andrew. Following this is Viola's line declaring that she wants to make peace with Sir Andrew (281-283) and at this point the audience already knows she does not want to fight. Thus, deleting these lines will not detract from her message that she has no desire to fight. The lines "I am no fighter. I have heard of some kind of men that put quarrels purposely on others to taste their valor. Be like this is a man of that quirk" (251-254)can be deleted because they are excessive. It has already been established that Viola and Sir Andrew will fight. Also, what Viola is trying to do in this line is to put forth a train of though of their fight which is continued in this part and pursued no further after this line, therefore making it excessive and unnecessary. Sir Toby tries scaring Sir Andrew saying how brave and dangerous Cesario is. He continues with this by noting that " Fabian can scarce hold him yonder" (293-294) which is excessive detail that is not needed because we already know Andrew is scared of Cesario and wants to back out of the fight. After hearing this news Sir Andrew offers his horse and puts in the excessive detail of describing the horse,"grey Capulet" ( 257), and thus the deletion does not impact the story at hand.
Later in the scene, during Sir Andrew and Viola's fight, Antonio comes in confusing Viola/Cesario for Sebastian and ends up defending Voila in the fight. In doing so, Antonio is arrested by Orsino's officers. Antonio then asks the assumed Sebastian for his purse back, which of course Viola does not have. She tries to explain to him that she doesn't have his money and offers him some of her own money because of his kindness "and part being prompted by [his] present troubles, Out of [her] lean and low ability" (358-359). This line along with others in Viola's speech to Antonio can be deleted because they are excessive. All we need to know is that she offers Antonio money because he was kind to her and Antonio saw her jester as betrayal, which the preceding and following lines show.
help on how to format text
Turn off "Getting Started"