Twelfth Night

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Hunting Symbol Icon
At various points in the play, hunting is used as a metaphor for the lover's pursuit of his beloved. The metaphor is telling because it emphasizes the extent to which a lover like Orsino takes pleasure in pursuing, rather than consummating, love: for an aristocrat like him, who does not need to hunt for food, once the prey of a hunt is caught, the fun is over.

Hunting Quotes in Twelfth Night

The Twelfth Night quotes below all refer to the symbol of Hunting. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Desire and Love Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of Twelfth Night published in 2004.
Act 2, scene 5 Quotes
Now is the woodcock near the gin.
Related Characters: Fabian (speaker), Malvolio
Related Symbols: Hunting
Page Number: 2.5.85
Explanation and Analysis:

Because of his self-righteous behavior towards the other servants, Maria decides to play a prank on Malvolio. She writes a love letter to him from an anonymous lover, but does so in Olivia's handwriting, and she riddles the letter with obvious clues that point toward Olivia as the author. Here Malvolio finds the letter, and Maria and the other servants hide in a tree to watch him read it. Fabian says then says this line in hiding, calling Malvolio a "woodcock." During Shakespeare's time the woodcock was known to be a particularly stupid breed of bird, and easy to catch in a "gin" or trap. Thus by calling him this, he is making fun of Malvolio's ignorance and stupidity. As with all disguises in Twelfth NIght, whether shielding themselves behind a tree or behind a letter, they help characters tell each other what they really feel and think.


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Hunting Symbol Timeline in Twelfth Night

The timeline below shows where the symbol Hunting appears in Twelfth Night. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 1
Desire and Love Theme Icon
Melancholy Theme Icon
Curio, one of Orsino's attendants, enters and asks the Duke whether he will he come hunt "hart" (male deer). Orsino jokes that, since he first saw Olivia, he himself has been... (full context)