Twelfth Night

by: William Shakespeare

Sebastian

Sebastian plays a critical role in first complicating, and then resolving the central conflict, even though we know little about his feelings or motivations. After surviving the shipwreck with the help of Antonio, Sebastian has no clear purpose or plan, but decides he is “bound to the Count Orsino’s court” (2.1.). However, everyone he encounters mistakes him for Cesario, leading Sebastian to wonder “Are all the people mad?” (4.1.). When Olivia greets Sebastian warmly he is confused but also pleased that a beautiful and wealthy woman is treating him so nicely. As he reflects, “If it be thus to dream, still let me sleep!” (4.1.). Sebastian passively goes along with the curious circumstances unfolding around him; he doesn’t seem inclined to ask too many questions. The experience of surviving the shipwreck seems to have left him open to accepting whatever fate unfolds for him. Once he has been happily reunited with his sister, there is little left for Sebastian to do. Sebastian is the catalyst for the play’s resolution, but offers very little by way of action to achieve that resolution.