Act II, Scene 4
Orsino longs to hear the song he heard the night before because it managed to relieve the pain of his unrequited love. Unfortunately, it was the Clown that sang it and he isn’t at Orsino’s house; he’s at Olivia’s house. Orsino sends Curio to fetch the Clown, but in the meantime wants to hear the tune.
Orsino tells Cesario (Viola) that if ever he should love a woman to think of Orsino and the love he feels so deeply. He asks how Cesario likes the tune. Viola finds the tune to be the perfect expression of love. Orsino spots a hint in Cesario’s eye that he has loved before. Viola admits as much and explains that the “woman” Cesario loves is of a similar age and complexion to Orsino. Orsino’s thinks she is probably not pretty enough for Cesario and she is definitely too old. Apparently, men should marry younger because a woman’s beauty fades pretty quickly as she gets older. (I imagine Viola loved hearing that.)
The Clown comes in and sings his song. Orsino pays him and the Clown makes some quippy remarks about the pleasure he takes in singing and Orsino’s melancholy before leaving.
Orsino dismisses everyone but Cesario.
Orsino tells Cesario to go and tell Olivia again how much Orsino loves her. Viola tries to make him understand that Olivia doesn’t love him, but he won’t listen. She asks what would happen if a woman loved him and he was in Olivia’s place. He finds that impossible because there is no way a woman could ever love as intensely as he does. Her fragile little woman heart is incapable of that depth of emotion. Viola insists that a woman can feel that deeply. In fact, Cesario had a sister that felt that deeply. Viola reveals that she is the only one left.
She departs for Olivia’s.
Act II, Scene V
Sir Toby and Sir Andrew meet up with a man named Fabian. He is interested in joining the plot against Malvolio because Malvolio turned Olivia against him in regard to bear baiting in the area.
The mistress of the plot, Maria, comes in and instructs them to hide in a nearby tree. Malvolio is walking through the garden in their direction. He is practicing his speeches and mannerisms, just like she expected. Maria throws down the letter and guarantees that it will not only fool Malvolio, but make him act completely ridiculous.
The men hide and Maria scurries off. Malvolio struts in contemplating how he is pretty sure that Olivia loves him. In fact, Maria has practically told him as much. He goes on to think about how he would sit in his study after leaving Olivia asleep in the daybed (wink, wink) and call Sir Toby to him. Once Sir Toby came, he would advise him against drinking and Toby, full of reverence, would be obedient. Of course, the real Toby finds this all deplorable and cannot stop himself from shouting out. Fabian silences him as best he can and Malvolio is none the wiser.
Malvolio notices the letter and immediately recognizes it as Olivia’s handwriting. (There is a very dirty joke here that spells out a bad word, probably not safe for children. Best to just let that joke slide right by) The letter is a poem and the write laments that she loves someone she shouldn’t. She loves someone that she commands. She uses a code for the name M,O,A,I. Malvolio eventually riddles out that the letter is talking about him. Once he realizes this, the letter tells him to start behaving like a noble, discussing politics, commanding servants, and treating her kinsman as an equal. She reminds him how much she loved his yellow stockings and cross-garters.
Malvolio rejoices in this revelation and commits himself to do everything the letter commands. He notices a final postscript telling him to smile. He goes off to become the man “Olivia” wants him to be.
Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Fabian cannot control their laughter. The plot could not have gone any better. Maria comes back in to hear about how well her plan worked. They bow at the feet of her greatness. She explains that Olivia hates yellow and cross-garters, and smiles will frustrate her since she is in such a melancholy. They cannot wait to see the fruits of their labor.
Act III, Scene 1
Viola runs into the Clown in Olivia’s garden. They muse about the meaning and value of words. The two have an equal wit and so find each other quite entertaining. In the end, Viola gives him two pieces of gold to tell him where Olivia is. She’s in her house and the Clown goes to announce her presence. Viola muses at the skill the Clown has at being a fool and the keen wit required to be successful.
Sir Toby and Sir Andrew comes through next to speak with Viola (Cesario). Sir Toby asks what he’s doing there and Viola tells him that she has come to speak with Olivia. Her word choice puts Sir Andrew, as another suitor, ill at ease. Sir Toby grants Viola entry, but Olivia is already on her way to the garden.
Olivia quickly dismisses everyone else, so she is alone with Cesario. She learns his name and is happy that Viola identifies herself as Olivia’s servant. Upon clarification, she makes it clear that she serves Olivia because Orsino serves Olivia. Olivia doesn’t want to hear about Orsino. Olivia admits that she sent Malvolio after Cesario with one of her own rings in an attempt to get Cesario’s attention. Viola expresses pity for Olivia and Olivia takes that as a good sign. No matter how much Viola tries to dissuade her, Olivia will not listen. She confesses her love for Cesario.
At this, Viola vows to never come back to see Olivia. Olivia tells Cesario to keep coming back because he may persuade her to love Orsino.
Act III, Scene 2
Sir Andrew is ready to leave. Olivia was much nicer to a servant than she ever was to him. Clearly his suit is pointless. Sir Toby and Fabian assure him that his cause is not lost. You see, Olivia flirted with the youth in full view of Sir Andrew to stir up his manly inclinations and make him fight for her. Sir Andrew decides to challenge the youth and runs off to draft the challenge.
Sir Toby has no intention of delivering the letter because he knows he can stir up Cesario better than anything Sir Andrew will write.
Maria runs in and tells them to come and watch Malvolio. He’s wearing yellow stockings and cross-garters. He’s smiling and making himself ridiculous and she is confident that Olivia will end up slapping him.
Act III, Scene 3
Sebastian is happy to see Antonio even though he feels he is asking too much of him. Antonio wants to be with Sebastian because he cares so deeply for him. Sebastian wants to take in the sights, but Antonio would rather sort out their lodgings. When Sebastian again expresses his desire to see the sights, Antonio reveals that he is in danger of being arrested. He fought against the Duke in a sea battle. Although he was one of many, he stood out. Antonio gives Sebastian is purse to go and see the sights. Antonio heads to The Elephant, an inn, to get them some rooms.
Act III, Scene 4
Olivia is excited because Cesario has agreed to come to dinner, but she worries that he will still resist her affections. She asks to see Malvolio, his sullen demeanor is exactly what she needs. Maria agrees to call for him, but warns Olivia that he is acting very strange. He keeps smiling. Olivia isn’t too worried about it and asks that he be sent in.
Malvolio struts in and Olivia is caught quite off guard. She tells Malvolio she wants him to frown and be somber, but he just keeps smiling. She asks what is wrong with him and he starts reciting her letter. Since she didn’t actually write the letter, she is very confused. Olivia is now convinced he’s gone mad and tells Maria to have Toby look after him. It’s time for her dinner with Cesario.
Malvolio is thrilled that she is having Sir Toby look after him. It must be because she wants him to set Sir Toby straight. He is more convinced than ever that she does indeed love him.
Maria, Fabian, and Sir Toby enter to tend to Malvolio. They treat him as though he is possessed. Malvolio believes he should treat them all like lowly peons and tries to dismiss them. Sir Toby attempts to reason with him and asks what devil resides in him. Malvolio, of course, takes offense at that and Maria twists that to mean he won’t hear ill of the devil. They can’t get him to pray either. Now they are all very concerned. Malvolio leaves them.
They laugh and decide to have him locked up in a dark room until he goes crazy,
Sir Andrew comes in with his challenge for Cesario. They read it aloud. It’s not very heated or threatening, but they pretend it is for his sake. Maria explains that Cesario is there and Sir Toby can deliver the challenge right away. Sir Andrew leaves.
Sir Toby reveals to Fabian that he has no intention of delivering the letter. It is so uninformed as to the real reason they are fighting that Cesario won’t even be frightened. Instead, Sir Toby will rile him up to fight by delivering the challenge himself.
Olivia and Cesario enter. Olivia worries that she has given too much of her heart to one that will not hear it. She asks that Cesario take a necklace containing her picture. Viola tries to refuse, but Olivia is insistent. She tells Cesario to come back and asks anything of her. Viola tells her to love Orsino, but that she cannot do. Her heart already belongs to Cesario. Olivia tells Cesario to return the next day.
Once Olivia leaves, Sir Toby warns Cesario that a fierce and skillful knight is waiting at the end of the garden to fight him. Viola has no idea why someone would be upset with her. Sir Toby says he doesn’t know why Sir Andrew is mad, but that he is fired up and ready to fight. Viola doesn’t want to fight and begs Sir Toby and then Fabian to help smooth the matter over. Sir Toby goes to get Sir Andrew and Fabian gently guides Viola toward Sir Andrew.
Sir Toby tells Sir Andrew that Cesario accepts his duel and is a very skilled fighter. Sir Andrew doesn’t want to fight him if he’s so skilled and offers up his horse. Sir Toby pretends to deliver that message to Cesario, but instead he and Fabian continue to fan the flames. They try to force Cesario and Sir Andrew into a fight, but the two are very reluctant to draw their swords.
As they draw, Antonio rushes in to save who he thinks is Sebastian. Sir Toby, being caught off guard by this new person, goes to fetch the police. The police come in and promptly arrest Antonio. Antonio asks Viola for his purse, but she, of course, doesn’t have it. She offers what money she can. Antonio is offended that his love and devotion has been met with betrayal. He reluctantly goes off to prison.
Viola wonders at the fact that Antonio referred to her as Sebastian. She hopes this means that her brother is alive. She goes off.
Sir Toby and Fabian tell Sir Andrew what a despicable coward Cesario is and Sir Andrew decides that he will fight him after all.