A line-by-line translation

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night Translation Table of Contents

After surviving a shipwreck, Viola finds herself a stranger in Illyria. Deciding to dress herself as a boy to serve Duke Orsino, she soon falls in love with him--and trips into quite a love triangle when the countess Olivia, whom Orisno loves, falls in love with the disguised Viola. In Twelfth Night, Shakespeare introduces a cast of uproarious characters (including Malvolio, Toby Belch, and Andrew Aguecheek), and tells a story of fickle fortune, mourning, love, and reunion. The Shakescleare modern English translation of the play will help you comprehend Shakespeare’s language, and the play’s most important quotes, including “If music be the food of love, play on” and “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em.”

Act 1, Scene 1

Orsino is listening to love songs when his servant, Valentine, enters to say that he was unable to speak with Olivia.

Act 1, Scene 2

Viola is shipwrecked, the Captain tells her about Orsino, and she decides to dress as a boy and enter his service.

Act 1, Scene 3

Sir Toby Belch is drinking and Maria comes to speak with him. They discuss Sir Andrew who then enters and dances.

Act 1, Scene 4

Viola (dressed as Cesario) has quickly become a favorite of Orsino, who trusts her to woo Olivia for him.

Act 1, Scene 5

The fool provides a comic interlude. Viola arrives to woo Olivia who refuses Orsino's suit, but asks Viola to return.

Act 2, Scene 1

Sebastian has survived the shipwreck, saved by the sailor Antonio. Antonio asks if he can accompany Sebastian.

Act 2, Scene 2

Malvolia follows Viola and "returns" Olivia's ring to her, Viola wonders why as she didn't leave a ring.

Act 2, Scene 3

Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and the fool are drinking. Maria joins them, and Malvolio breaks up the party. They plan revenge.

Act 2, Scene 4

Orsino listens to music and asks Viola to return to Olivia. Viola discusses her feelings cryptically.

Act 2, Scene 5

A trap is laid for Malvolio. He believes he has Olivia's favor and mocks the others, Maria's letter confirms this to him

Act 3, Scene 1

Viola meets the fool, Sir Toby and Sir Andrew. Olivia confesses her love for Viola to her, and begs Viola to return.

Act 3, Scene 2

Sir Andrew fears he'll never marry Olivia. Sir Toby convinces Sir Andrew otherwise. Maria tells them their trap worked.

Act 3, Scene 3

Antonio has followed Sebastian and has lent Sebastian his money. The two agree to meet again later.

Act 3, Scene 4

Malvolio acts as the letter told him. Sir Andrew and Viola duel, but are interrupted by Antonio. Antonio is arrested.

Act 4, Scene 1

Sir Andrew mistakes Sebastian for Viola. Sebastian retaliates. Olivia enters and asks him to marry her, he accepts.

Act 4, Scene 2

Malvolio is imprisoned in an attempt to cure his insanity. The fool and others torment him further.

Act 4, Scene 3

Sebastian is confused about why Olivia wants to marry him, but is happy to accept that she does. They marry.

Act 5, Scene 1

Orsino discovers "Cesario" has married Olivia, and grows angry. The siblings meet each other. Sir Toby marries Maria.
Matt cosby
About the Translator: Matt Cosby
Matt Cosby graduated from Amherst College in 2011, and currently works as a writer and editor for LitCharts. He is from Florida but now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also makes art, plays the piano, and goes to dog parks.