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Twelfth Night

William Shakespeare
No Fear Act 2 Scene 4
No Fear Act 2 Scene 4 Page 5

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ORSINO

I cannot be so answer’d.

ORSINO

I refuse to accept that.

VIOLA

   Sooth, but you must.
Say that some lady, as perhaps there is,
Hath for your love a great a pang of heart
As you have for Olivia. You cannot love her.
90You tell her so. Must she not then be answered?

VIOLA

But you have to. Just imagine some lady might exist who loves you as powerfully and agonizingly as you love Olivia. But you can’t love her, and you tell her so. Shouldn’t she just accept that?

ORSINO

There is no woman’s sides
Can bide the beating of so strong a passion
As love doth give my heart. No woman’s heart
So big, to hold so much. They lack retention.
95Alas, their love may be called appetite,
No motion of the liver, but the palate,
That suffer surfeit, cloyment, and revolt;
But mine is all as hungry as the sea,
And can digest as much. Make no compare
100Between that love a woman can bear me
And that I owe Olivia.

ORSINO

No woman is strong enough to put up with the kind of intense passion I feel. No woman’s heart is big enough to hold all my love. Women don’t feel love like that—love is as shallow as appetite for them. It has nothing to do with their hearts, just their sense of taste. They eat too much and get indigestion and nausea. But my love’s different. It’s as all-consuming and insatiable as the sea, and it can swallow as much as the sea can. Don’t compare a woman’s love for a man with my love for Olivia.

VIOLA

   Ay, but I know—

VIOLA

Yes, but I know—

ORSINO

What dost thou know?

ORSINO

What do you know?

VIOLA

Too well what love women to men may owe.
In faith, they are as true of heart as we.
105My father had a daughter loved a man
As it might be, perhaps, were I a woman,
I should your lordship.

VIOLA

I know a lot about the love women can feel for men. Actually, their hearts are as sensitive and loyal as ours are. My father had a daughter who loved a man in the same way that I might love you, if I were a woman.

ORSINO

   And what’s her history?

ORSINO

And what’s her story?