Twelfth Night: Act 4, Scene 2
Enter MARIA and Clown.
1Nay, I prithee, put on this gown and this beard;
2make him believe thou art Sir Topas the curate:
2. him: i.e., Malvolio. Sir Topas the curate: a clergyman who serves in a single parish.
3do it quickly; I'll call Sir Toby the whilst.
3. the whilst: in the meantime.
4Well, I'll put it on, and I will dissemble myself
4. dissemble myself: disguise myself.
5in't; and I would I were the first that ever
6dissembled in such a gown. I am not tall enough to
6. dissembled: played the hypocrite. tall: large, fleshy. become the function: suit the role. Stereotypically, priests were fat and scholars were lean. to be said: to have a reputation (as). 9. goes as fairly: sounds as well.
7become the function well, nor lean enough to be
8thought a good student; but to be said an honest man
9and a good housekeeper goes as fairly as to say a
10careful man and a great scholar. The competitors enter.
10. competitors: partners, confederates (in the scheme to play another trick on Malvolio).
Enter [SIR] TOBY [BELCH and MARIA].
SIR TOBY BELCH
11Jove bless thee, master Parson.
12Bonos dies, Sir Toby: for, as the old hermit of
12. Bonos dies: mock Latin for "Good day"a real parson would know Latin. old hermit of Prague: a religious sage, invented by the Clown. wittily: cleverly, wisely.
13Prague, that never saw pen and ink, very wittily
14said to a niece of King Gorboduc, 'That that is is;'
14. King Gorboduc: a legendary ancient King of England. "That that is is," etc.: The Clown is mocking the scholarly habit of using a lot of words to make a simple point. In this case the simple point is, "If you say I am 'Master Parson', why so I am."
15so I, being Master Parson, am Master Parson; for,
16what is 'that' but 'that,' and 'is' but 'is'?
SIR TOBY BELCH
17To him, Sir Topas.
18What, ho, I say! peace in this prison!
18. What, ho, I say!: "Sir Topas" is calling out to Malvolio, who is locked in a dark room. prison:
SIR TOBY BELCH
19The knave counterfeits well; a good knave.
19. knave: i.e., the Clown. counterfeits: plays the role.
20(Within.) Who calls there?
20. Within: i.e., offstage, out of sight.
21Sir Topas the curate, who comes to visit
22Malvolio the lunatic.
23Sir Topas, Sir Topas, good Sir Topas, go to
25Out, hyperbolical fiend! how vexest thou this
25. hyperbolical fiend: rowdy devil (who has taken possession of Malvolio).
26man! Talkest thou nothing but of ladies?
SIR TOBY BELCH
27Well said, Master Parson.
28Sir Topas, never was man thus wronged: good Sir
29Topas, do not think I am mad: they have laid me
30here in hideous darkness.
31Fie, thou dishonest Satan! I call thee by the most
32modest terms; for I am one of those gentle ones
32. modest: moderate.
33that will use the devil himself with courtesy:
34sayest thou that house is dark?
34. house: i.e., room.
35As hell, Sir Topas.
36Why it hath bay windows transparent as barricadoes,
36. barricadoes: barricades. clerestories: windows in an upper wall. south north: There is no such direction.
37and the clearstories toward the south north are as
38lustrous as ebony; and yet complainest thou of
38. ebony: black woodebony is naturally dull and not suitable for use as window glass. obstruction: shutting out of light.
40I am not mad, Sir Topas: I say to you, this house is
42Madman, thou errest: I say, there is no darkness
43but ignorance; in which thou art more puzzled than
43. puzzled: confused, lost.
44the Egyptians in their fog.
44. the Egyptians in their fog: from Exodus 10:20-23.
45I say, this house is as dark as ignorance, though
46ignorance were as dark as hell; and I say, there
47was never man thus abused. I am no more mad
48than you are: make the trial of it in any constant
48-49. make the trial of it in any constant question: test my sanity in any rational discourse .
50What is the opinion of Pythagoras concerning
50. Pythagoras: Greek philosopher (fl. 530 BCE.) who taught that a soul can transmigrate from one creature to another.
52That the soul of our grandam might haply inhabit
52. haply: happily, perhaps, by chance.
54What thinkest thou of his opinion?
55I think nobly of the soul, and no way approve his
55. I think nobly of the soul: Malvolio adheres to traditional Christian belief. approve: agree with, confirm.
57Fare thee well. Remain thou still in darkness. Thou
58shalt hold the opinion of Pythagoras ere I will allow
58. ere: before. 58-59. allow of thy wits: acknowledge that you are sane. 59. fear to: i.e., you must be afraid to. woodcock: a really stupid bird. 60. dispossess: evict (from the dead woodcock). Fare thee well: i.e., good-byethe Clown steps out of the earshot of Malvolio.
59of thy wits, and fear to kill a woodcock, lest thou
60dispossess the soul of thy grandam. Fare thee well.
61Sir Topas, Sir Topas!
SIR TOBY BELCH
62My most exquisite Sir Topas!
62. exquisite: perfectly done. (Sir Toby is praising the Clown's playing of Sir Topas.)
63Nay, I am for all waters.
63. I am for all waters: literally, "I can sail any sea"; metaphorically, "I can play many different roles".
64Thou mightst have done this without thy beard and
65gown: he sees thee not.
SIR TOBY BELCH
66To him in thine own voice, and bring me word how
67thou findest him: I would we were well rid of this
68knavery. If he may be conveniently delivered, I
68. delivered: released from prison.
69would he were, for I am now so far in offence with
69. so far in offence: in so trouble.
70my niece that I cannot pursue with any safety this
71sport to the upshot. Come by and by to my chamber.
71. to the upshot: i.e., any further.
Exit [SIR TOBY BELCH with MARIA].
72'Hey, Robin, jolly Robin,
73Tell me how thy lady does.'
75'My lady is unkind, perdy.'
77. perdy: indeed, certainly.
77'Alas, why is she so?'
78Fool, I say!
79'She loves another' Who calls, ha?
79. "Hey, Robin . . . She loves another": The Clown sings lines from an old song, the moral of which is that you can only trust women to be untrustworthy.
80Good fool, as ever thou wilt deserve well at
81my hand, help me to a candle, and pen, ink
82and paper: as I am a gentleman, I will live to
83be thankful to thee for't.
85Ay, good fool.
86Alas, sir, how fell you besides your five wits?
86. how fell you besides your five wits?: how did you fall out of sanity? (The five wits are common sense, fantasy, memory, judgment, and imagination.)
87Fool, there was never a man so notoriously abused:
87. notoriously abused: outrageously slandered.
88I am as well in my wits, fool, as thou art.
89But as well? then you are mad indeed, if
90you be no better in your wits than a fool.
91They have here propertied me; keep me in
91. propertied me: treated me as mere property.
92darkness, send ministers to me, asses, and
92. ministers: agents, surrogates.
93do all they can to face me out of my wits.
93. face me out of my wits: drive me insane by pretending that I am insanethe sort of thing that "Sir Topas" has just been doing.
94Advise you what you say; the minister is here.
94. Advise you: think about, be careful of. the minister: i.e., "Sir Topas."
95Malvolio, Malvolio, thy wits the heavens restore!
96endeavour thyself to sleep, and leave thy vain
96. endeavour thyself to sleep: try to go to sleep.
99Maintain no words with him, good fellow. Who,
100I, sir? not I, sir. God be wi' you, good Sir Topas.
100. God be wi' you: good-bye.
101 Marry, amen. I will, sir, I will.
102Fool, fool, fool, I say!
103Alas, sir, be patient. What say you sir? I am
104shent for speaking to you.
104. shent: scolded, rebuked.
105Good fool, help me to some light and some
106paper: I tell thee, I am as well in my wits as
107any man in Illyria.
108Well-a-day that you were, sir
108. Well-a-day that you were: i.e., Alas, I wish that you really were (sane).
109By this hand, I am. Good fool, some ink, paper
110and light; and convey what I will set down to my
110. convey: deliver.
111lady: it shall advantage thee more than ever the
111. advantage: benefit.
112bearing of letter did.
113I will help you to't. But tell me true, are you
114not mad indeed? or do you but counterfeit?
113-114. But . . . counterfeit?: i.e., Isn't it true that you really are mad? Or are you just pretending to be mad?
115Believe me, I am not; I tell thee true.
116Nay, I'll ne'er believe a madman till I see his
117brains. I will fetch you light and paper and ink.
116-117. see his brains: Maybe that would be when they've been knocked out and the man is dead.
118Fool, I'll requite it in the highest degree:
118. requite it: return the favor (of bringing me writing materials). 119. be gone: Malvolio wants the fool to hurry up and get those writing materials.
119I prithee, be gone.
120I am gone, sir,
121And anon, sir,
122I'll be with you again,
123In a trice,
123. trice: moment.
124Like to the old Vice,
124. Vice: A mischievous character in medieval drama.
125Your need to sustain;
125. Your need to sustain: to sustain you in your time of need .
126Who, with dagger of lath,
126. dagger of lath: wooden dagger. (The Vice often carried one, beat the devil with it, and threatened to trim the devil's long nails with it.)
127In his rage and his wrath,
128Cries, ah, ha! to the devil:
129Like a mad lad,
130Pare thy nails, dad;
131Adieu, good man devil.
131. good man devil: This "devil" is the one which has taken possession of Malvolio. "Goodman" is appropriate when you're talking to a humble farmer, insulting when you're talking to a devil.