Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night


William Shakespeare

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Twelfth Night: Act 2, scene 1 Summary & Analysis

Read our modern English translation of this scene.
Somewhere on the coast of Illyria, two men, Antonio and Sebastian, stand in front of Antonio's house. Antonio begs Sebastian to remain as his guest, but without success. Finally, Antonio asks at least to know where Sebastian is going. Moved by Antonio's concern for him, Sebastian admits to the identity he has been hiding: his name is Sebastian, he is an aristocrat from Messaline, and he has a twin sister who drowned on the same day that Antonio saved him from the sea. His sister was beautiful and intelligent, and he cannot stop weeping whenever he thinks of her.
By revealing his identity, Sebastian gives up deception, disguise, and performance in favor of open friendship with Antonio. Also notice how Sebastian's deep mourning for Viola parallels Viola's own mourning for Sebastian and contrasts with the levity Olivia has shown in the previous scene, casting off her mourning obligations in order to pursue romantic love.
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Literary Devices
Touched by the story, Antonio begs Sebastian to let him remain with him as his servant. Sebastian says that he would prefer to be left alone but tells Antonio he is headed to Orsino's court. Antonio pauses, because has many enemies at Orsino's court, yet decides that since he does "adore" Sebastian he will follow him, despite the danger.
The male-male, master-servant relationship between Sebastian and Antonio seems more profound and less fickle than the romantic relationships between Viola, Olivia, and Orsino. Yet the extent of Antonio's devotion hints at some possible deeper emotion that Antonio might feel toward Sebastian.
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