Summary: Act IV, scene i

Near Olivia’s house, Feste the clown comes across the person who he thinks is Cesario and tries to bring him to Olivia’s house. This individual, however, is actually Viola’s twin brother, Sebastian. Sebastian, of course, is confused by Feste’s claims to know him. Sir Toby and Sir Andrew then find them. Sir Andrew, thinking that Sebastian is the same person he was about to duel a few minutes before, attacks him. But Sebastian, unlike Viola, is a scrappy fighter, and starts to beat Sir Andrew with his dagger, leading the foolish nobleman to cry for mercy. The bewildered Sebastian wonders if he is surrounded by madmen and tries to leave. But Sir Toby grabs him to prevent him from going. The two exchange insults, and Sebastian and Sir Toby draw their swords and prepare to fight.

Suddenly, Olivia enters. She sees Sir Toby preparing to fight the person who she thinks is Cesario. Angrily, she orders Sir Toby to put away his sword and sends away all the others. She begs Cesario to come into her house with her. Sebastian is bewildered, but Olivia does not give him time to think, and the still-confused Sebastian agrees to follow her, saying, “If it be thus to dream, still let me sleep!” (IV.i.59).

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Summary: Act IV, scene ii

Inside Olivia’s house, Maria, Sir Toby, and the other servants have locked Malvolio into a small, dark chamber. Maria asks Feste to put on the robes of a clergyman and pretend to be Sir Topas, a fictional curate, or priest. Sir Toby and Maria then send Feste to talk to the imprisoned Malvolio in the voice of Sir Topas while they listen in on the conversation.

Pretending to be the priest, Feste addresses Malvolio, who cannot see him inside his prison. Malvolio tells Feste that he is not insane, and Malvolio begs Feste to get him out of the locked room. But Feste deliberately misunderstands and misleads the steward. He tells Malvolio that the room is not actually dark but is full of windows and light and that Malvolio must be mad or possessed if he cannot see the brightness. Malvolio denies Feste’s claims, and he urges Feste to question him in the hopes of proving his sanity. But Feste uses ridiculous questions and then contradicts the steward’s answers. He concludes by telling Malvolio he is still mad and must remain in the darkness.

Sir Toby and Maria are delighted by the joke but are also tiring of it. Sir Toby is worried that Olivia, already offended by his drinking and carousing, might catch him in this prank. They send Feste back to Malvolio, where Feste—now using both his own voice and that of Sir Topas, as if the two are having a conversation—speaks to Malvolio again. Malvolio swears he isn’t crazy, and begs for paper, ink, and light with which to write a letter to Olivia. Feste promises to fetch him the items.

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Summary: Act IV, scene iii

Elsewhere in the house, Sebastian is wandering, dazed yet happy. He is very confused: he doesn’t seem to be insane, and yet a beautiful woman—Olivia—has been giving him gifts and wants to marry him. He wishes he could find Antonio to discuss the situation with him. He states, however, that when he went back to their inn, Antonio was nowhere to be seen. Olivia now returns with a priest, asking Sebastian (who she still thinks is Cesario) if he is still willing to marry her. Sebastian happily agrees, and they go off to get married.