Twelfth Night A Summary of Act 2
Act II, Scene i • Characters: Sebastian and Antonio • Summary: We are introduced to two new characters (Antonio and Sebastian), the latter of which has a twin sister who was recently lost in a shipwreck at sea. The reader thus learns of the fate of Viola’s brother. Sebastian declares that he heads for Illyria to Duke Orsino.
Act II, Scene ii • Characters: Viola (Cesario) and Malvolio • Summary: In this short scene, Malvolio catches up with Cesario to ‘return’ the ring to him. After being refused, Malvolio tosses the ring and leaves. Viola begins to realize that she made an impression on Olivia and she is now in love with her, thus creating a love triangle in which she is now helplessly caught.
Act II, Scene iii • Characters: Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, Maria, Feste, Malvolio • Summary: Toby, Andrew, and Feste decide to have a late night Twelfth Night celebration, which is interrupted by Maria, and then later threatened by Malvolio. For his intrusion, Maria hatches a plan against Malvolio involving a fake letter saying Olivia is in love with Malvolio.
Act II, Scene iv • Characters: Curio, Orsino, Feste, Viola • Orsino listens to music to ease his lovesickness (similar to first scene in Act I). Viola and Orsino have a conversation about love in which Orsino ironically reveals his beliefs in the abilities with which men and women can love to Viola. Orsino once again sends Viola off to Olivia as a courtier.
Act II, Scene v (The ‘Prank’ Scene) • Characters: Toby, Andrew, Fabian, Maria, Malvolio • Summary: Malvolio unknowingly reveals to the others and the audience that he has long harbored dreams of grandeur and seeks to raise himself above all others. Fabian, Toby, and Andrew delight in watching Malvolio discover Maria’s forged letter in which Olivia declares her love to the mysterious ‘M.O.A.I’. After reading the fake letter, Malvolio resolves to act more like himself, and to wear yellow cross-gartered stockings to court his lady Olivia. Ugly yellow stockings
Irony in Act II • Scene iv: (Verbal Irony)- Orsino says to ‘Cesario’ that women lack the capabilities of men like Orsino and Cesario in matters of love. Orsino is of course contradicting himself entirely, because Viola then also apparently has the capacity of a man for love. • (Dramatic Irony)- Orsino is the only one who does not know Cesario is a female (audience is in on the joke, and so is Viola)
Irony in Act II • (Situational Irony)- Viola precarious ‘situation’ involving her romance with Orsino can be seen as ironic because while on the surface of what seems to be Orsino’s desire for a man is actually desire for a woman. Thus, Orsino has contradicted himself.