Twelfth Night

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 5 Scene 1

page Act 5 Scene 1 Page 13

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VIOLA

The captain that did bring me first on shore
Hath my maid’s garments. He, upon some action,
Is now in durance at Malvolio’s suit,
270A gentleman and follower of my lady’s.

VIOLA

The captain who brought me to shore has my women’s clothes. For some reason he’s in prison now on some legal technicality, on Malvolio’s orders. Malvolio is a gentleman in my lady’s entourage.

OLIVIA

He shall enlarge him.

OLIVIA

He’ll release him.
Enter FOOL with a letter, and FABIAN
FABIAN and the FOOL with a letter enter.
Fetch Malvolio hither:
And yet, alas, now I remember me,
They say, poor gentleman, he’s much distract.
275A most extracting frenzy of mine own
From my remembrance clearly banished his.
(to FOOL) How does he, sirrah?
Go and get Malvolio—But, oh no! Now I remember, they say the poor man is mentally ill. I was so crazy myself that I forgot all about him. (to the FOOL) How is Malvolio doing, do you know?

FOOL

Truly, madam, he holds Beelzebub at the staves' end as well as a man in his case may do. Has here writ a letter to you. I should have given ’t you today morning, but as a madman’s epistles are no gospels, so it skills not much when they are delivered.

FOOL

Well, he keeps the devil away as well as a man can in his situation. He’s written you a letter. I would’ve given it to you this morning, but a madman’s letters aren’t Gospel, so it doesn’t matter much if I’m a bit late.

OLIVIA

Open ’t, and read it.

OLIVIA

Open it and read it.

FOOL

Look then to be well edified when the fool delivers the madman. (reads) “By the Lord, madam,”—

FOOL

There’s a lot to learn when a fool recites the words of a madman. (he reads) “I swear to God, madam,”—

OLIVIA

How now? Art thou mad?

OLIVIA

Why are you talking like that? Are you insane?

FOOL

No, madam, I do but read madness. An your ladyship will have it as it ought to be, you must allow vox.

FOOL

No, madam, I’m just reading an insane letter. If you want things done in the right way, you’ll have to let me read a crazy letter in a crazy voice.

OLIVIA

Prithee, read i' thy right wits.

OLIVIA

No, please, read it like a sane person.