this be so, as yet the glass seems true,
shall have share in this most happy wrack.
Boy, thou hast said to me a
Thou never shouldst love woman like
And all those sayings will I overswear,
all those swearings keep as true in soul
doth that orbèd continent the fire
severs day from night.
Give me thy hand,
And let me see thee in
thy woman’s weeds.
This exchange follows the climax of
the play, when Sebastian and Viola are reunited, and all the misunderstandings
are cleared up. Here, Orsino ushers in a happy ending for his long-suffering
Viola by declaring his willingness to wed her. This quote thus sets
the stage for general rejoicing—but it is worth noting that even
here, the -gender ambiguities that Viola’s disguise has created
still persist. Orsino knows that Viola is a woman—and a woman, apparently, to- whom
he is attracted. Yet he addresses her as “Boy” in this speech, even
as he is accepting her vows of love. This incident is not isolated:
later, Orsino continues to call his new betrothed “Cesario,” using
her male name. This odd mode of address raises, and leaves un-answered,
the question of whether Orsino is in love with Cesario, the beautiful
young man, or with Viola, the beautiful young woman.