Quotes or quotations are phrases, sentences, lines taken from a literary work. They often represent some universal truths and themes of a story, play, or a poem. Quotes from Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare also show themes and challenges during the time of William Shakespeare. Some of the quotes from Twelfth Night have been analyzed below.
Quotes in Twelfth Night
If music be the food of love, play on.
Give me excess of it, that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken and so die
Duke Orsino opens the play with these lines to state how he suffers because of unrequited love. He calls upon the musicians to play music so that his hunger for love could be replenished with an excess of music. He sees music as a replacement and cure for his love for Olivia.
Misprision in the highest degree! Lady, cucullus non
facit monachum; that’s as much to say as I wear not
motley in my brain. Good madonna, give me leave to
prove you a fool.
Here a clown is talking to Olivia when she tells him that he is a fool and must be taken away. He tells her in Latin that a book should not be judged through its cover. He explains to her that his clothes are of multi-colors, his brain is one. In fact, he wants to state that his being a clown does not show that he is stupid and that her own mourning seems superficial as compared to his personality. He also challenges that if Olivia allows him, he will prove that she is a foolish woman.
Love make his heart of flint that you shall love,
And let your fervor, like my master’s, be
Placed in contempt.
Viola has disguised as Cesario tries to woo Olivia at Orsino’s request. Olivia refuses to accept Orsino’s proposal again as she is not interested. Viola is angry and curses Olivia that she should find a man who is heartless and doesn’t love her back. Viola, who secretly loves Orsino wants Olivia to face similar pain as Orsino.
Unless the master were the man. How now!
Even so quickly may one catch the plague?
Methinks I feel this youth’s perfections
With an invisible and subtle stealth
To creep in at mine eyes.
Olivia is speaking these lines to herself. Olivia finds herself slowly falling in love with Cesario, the new page of Orsino. She thinks that love is like a plague or a contagious disease which creeps and overpowers a human being. She wonders how is it possible to fall in love with a person in such a short time.
I left no ring with her. What means this lady?
Fortune forbid my outside have not charmed her!
She made good view of me.
Olivia sends Malvolio to Viola asking him to return her ring. However, Viola had never left a ring at Olivia’s palace. Here Viola wonders why Olivia has sent a ring to her. Viola recalls observing Olivia. Viola believes that Olivia may have fallen in love with her. This is a foreshadowing of Olivia’s love with Sebastian, Viola’s twin brother.
Dost thou think, because thou art
virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?
Sir Toby Belch speaks these lines while speaking to Malvolio. Olivia feels sorry for Sir Toby because he is afflicted with self-love. Sir Toby gets drunk with the jester, Maria, and Sir Andrew, Malvolio scolds them for the loud singing and the noise. He turns to Malvolio to inform that he is just Olivia’s servant though she is his niece. He also asks Malvolio why can’t they have fun just because Malvolio is self-righteous.
My father had a daughter loved a man
As it might be, perhaps, were I a woman,
I should your Lordship.
Viola says these words to Orsino while she advises him to move on from Olivia. She tells him that there is someone who dearly loves him. However, Viola is dressed at Cesario. Hearing that Orsino asks her how does she know about women’s heart. Viola tells Orsino that she has a sister. That’s she knows that women are loyal and sensitive. She tells him if she were a woman she would love the man back just the way ‘Cesario’s sister did.
I am all the daughters of my father’s house,
And all the brothers, too—and yet I know not.
In the fourth scene, Viola does not reveal her secret to Duke Orsino. While still pretending to be Cesario, she tells him that she is the only daughter and also the son of her father. She also means that she dresses as a boy to keep the memory of her brother Sebastian alive. Viola wants to tell Orsino that she is the girl who loves him.
“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 ’em.”
Malvolio believes that Olivia sent him a letter. In fact, it was a prank played by Maria, Sir Toby, and the others to crush his pride. Malvolio reads the letter and is convinced that Olivia loves him and he agrees to the conditions in the letter. However, the above lines are words of wisdom though it was written to fool Malvolio. It means that a person is born great, or work harder to achieve greatness, and sometimes they are forced to great things.
Boy, thou hast said to me a thousand times
Thou never shouldst love woman like to me.
Orsino speaks these lines to Viola when her secret is revealed. He recalls Viola’s words that she used to say while pretending to be Cesario. She always mentioned that she can never love a woman as much as she loved Orsino. However, in the past, Orsino failed to understand that.