What is an example of a soliloquy from the play Twelfth Night?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In a soliloquy, a long speech made by a character who is alone on stage, there is a revelation of the inner thoughts and feelings of this character to the audience only. In Act II, Scene 2, for instance, disguised as Cesario, Viola conveys her amazement at the caprice of love after Malvolio delivers to Cesario the ring that he says Orsino has left for Olivia. For, as a messenger from the Duke, Cesario has made an urgent plea for the lofty theological aspect of love, but Olivia has rejected this and has become smitten with Cesario despite her vow to not have anything to do with men for seven years.

Cesario reacts to Olivia's gesture of love to "him" in the soliloquy of Act II. Noting the subjective quality of love, Cesario comments upon the madness of love which is a consistent theme throughout Twelfth Night:

Disguise, I see, thou art a wickedness,
Wherein the pregnant enemy does much.
How easy is it for the proper-false
In women's waxen hearts to set their forms!
Alas, our fraility is the cause, not we,
For such as we are made of, such we be. (2.2.26-31)

Viola/Cesario concludes that Time, upon which she calls in apostrophe, must unravel this madness as she cannot undue Olivia's confusion of appearance and reality:

O, Time, thou must unravel this, not I;
It is too hard a knot for me to untie. (2.2.39-40)

In this soliloquy, then, Viola/Caesario points to the weakness of women, the subjectivity of love, and the conflicts presented by appearance vs. reality.


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Twelfth Night

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