If you prized my lady’s favor at anything more than contempt, you would not give means for this uncivil rule (2.3.)
Malvolio rebukes Maria for participating in unruly behavior alongside Sir Toby and the Fool. Malvolio is very rigid and conservative, and he does not approve of drunkenness, singing, or joking around. He sees this type of behavior as reflecting poorly on Olivia’s household, and he holds himself and the other servants to a very high standard. This quote shows Malvolio behaving like he is better than other characters, and explains why they would dislike him and seek opportunities for revenge.
She uses me with a more exalted respect than anyone else that follows her (2.5.)
Malvolio falls victim to the trap Maria and Toby have laid for him. Because he is conceited and full of himself, it’s easy for Malvolio to believe that Olivia is in love with him, and he rationalizes that she seems to treat him better than she treats the other servants. In his arrogance, Malvolio overlooks the fact that it would be highly unlikely for a woman of Olivia’s social position to fall in love with a servant. The line also shows his ambition, and desire to rise to a higher station in life.
I will be strange, stout, in yellow stockings and cross-gartered (2.5.)
Malvolio decides to follow the fake instructions he has been tricked into believing come from Olivia. The instructions are set up to make him behave in a bizarre fashion and look ridiculous, but Malvolio is too excited to see that. He truly believes he has a chance of pursuing a relationship with Olivia and he is determined to please her.
Nothing that can be can come between me and the full prospect of my hopes (3.4.)
Malvolio happily reflects on how everything seems to be going according to plan. He has no idea he is being tricked, and he thinks that he is getting closer to marrying Olivia. Malvolio is not very self-aware and not good at noticing what is going on around him. He genuinely believes he has a chance of marrying a woman who is completely out of his league, and he does not question the strange ways he has been asked to behave.
And tell me, in the modesty of honor / Why you have given me such clear lights of favor (5.1.)
Malvolio confronts Olivia at the end of the play. He shows her the letter and asks to know why she told him to do all the strange things it specifies. Malvolio is trying to make sense of what has happened to him. The quote might serve to create sympathy for Malvolio since it shows how much trust he placed in Olivia, and how betrayed he feels by the possibility that she might have been tricking and manipulating him.
Take a Study Break
Every Shakespeare Play Summed Up in a Quote from The Office
Honest Names for All the Books on Your English Syllabus
Pick 5 Books and We'll Tell You What Netflix Show You Should Binge-Watch This Summer
QUIZ: Can You Identify the Shakespeare Play By Its Most Popular Quote?
Every Marvel Movie Summed Up in a Single Sentence
QUIZ: Are You a Hero, a Villain, or an Anti-Hero?
Pick 10 Books and We'll Guess Whether You're an Introvert or an Extrovert