Here is a brief plot summary of Twelfth Night:

Orsino, the Duke of lllyria, is in love with his neighbour, the Countess Olivia. She has sworn to avoid men’s company for seven years while she mourns the death of her brother, so rejects him. Nearby a group of sailors arrive on shore with a young woman, Viola, who has survived a shipwreck in a storm at sea. Viola mourns the loss of her twin brother but decides to dress as a boy to get work as a page to Duke Orsino.

Despite his rejection Orsino sends his new page Cesario (Viola in disguise) to woo Olivia on his behalf. Viola goes unwillingly as she has already fallen in love at first sight with the duke. Olivia is attracted by the ‘boy’ and she sends her pompous steward, Malvolio, after him with a ring.

Olivia’s uncle, Sir Toby Belch, her servant Maria, and Sir Toby’s friend, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, who is also hoping to woo Olivia, and is being led on by Sir Toby, who is trying to fleece him of his money, all plot to expose the self-love of Malvolio. By means of a false letter they trick him into thinking his mistress Olivia loves him. Malvolio appears in yellow stockings and cross-garters, smiling as they have told him to in the letter. Unaware of the trick the Countess is horrified and has Malvolio shut up in the dark as a madman.

Meanwhile Viola’s twin brother, Sebastian, who has also survived the shipwreck, comes to Illyria. His sea-captain friend, Antonio, is a wanted man for piracy against Orsino. The resemblance between Cesario and Sebastian leads the jealous Sir Andrew to challenge Cesario to a duel. Antonio intervenes to defend Cesario whom he thinks is his friend Sebastian, and is arrested. Olivia has in the meantime met and become betrothed to Sebastian.

Cesario is accused of deserting both Antonio and Olivia when the real Sebastianarrives to apologise for fighting Sir Toby. Seeing both twins together, all is revealed to Olivia. Orsino’s fool, Feste, brings a letter from Malvolio and on his release the conspirators confess to having written the false letter. Malvolio departs promising revenge. Maria and Sir Toby have married in celebration of the success of their device against the steward.

The play ends as Orsino welcomes Olivia and Sebastian and, realising his own attraction to Cesario, he promises that once she is dressed as a woman again they, too, will be married.

 

See

26 replies
Newer Comments »
    • Alipot
      Alipot says:

      Just read these notes as we are performing Twelfth Night at the moment. The summary is great but please note although Feste sings for Duke Orsino he is very much OLIVIA’S fool. The first time he appears this is made very clear and it is explained that he was her father’s fool originally and she inherited him. Putting in an exam that he was Orsino’s fool could loose you a good few marks as it will show you haven’t actually read the whole play!!

      Reply
Newer Comments »

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>