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What are the Shakespeare Twelfth Night lines in which Olivia says she will not love...

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tanaeelise | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 15, 2011 at 9:34 AM via web

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What are the Shakespeare Twelfth Night lines in which Olivia says she will not love for 7 years?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 15, 2011 at 4:55 PM (Answer #1)

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Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night, or What You Will should have the title reversed because it contains some of the flightiest characters of all the comedies.  Only Feste, the court fool, has any sense as he suggests that Olivia is the true fool for cloistering herself.  For, Olivia is completely capricious.  In Act I, Scene 1, she rebuffs Orsino's love by declaring that she will not love anyone for seven years as Valentine reports,

So please my lord, I might not be admitted;
But from her handmaid do return this answer:
The element itself, till seven years' heat,
Shall not behold her face at ample view;
But, like a cloistress, she will veiled walk
And water once a day her chamber round
With eye-offending brine: all this to season
A brother's dead love, which she would keep fresh
And lasting in her sad remembrance. (1.1.26-34)

However, it is not long afterwards that she meets Viola, who is diguised as a man named Cesario, that she becomes enamored of this supposed young man.  So, her cloistering of herself for seven years is simply posturing.  Even more fickle than this action is Olivia's switching her attraction for Cesario to Viola's brother Sebastian at the play's end when she discovers that it is Viola who poses as Cesario.  Through the character of Olivia, Shakespeare says much about the arbitrariness of sexual attraction.

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rugbykats | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted July 15, 2011 at 11:55 AM (Answer #2)

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In Act I, Scene I of "Twelfth Night," the character Valentine makes this report to Duke Orsino:

"So please my lord, I might not be admitted;

But from her handmaid do return this answer:

The element itself, till seven years' heat,

Shall not behold her face at ample view;

But, like a cloistress, she will veiled walk

And water once a day her chamber round

With eye-offending brine: all this to season

A brother's dead love, which she would keep fresh

And lasting in her sad remembrance."

-- from the "Complete Works of William Shakespeare"

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