In Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Malvolio says: "Some are born to be great, some achive greatness,and some have greatness...." Does this quote appear anywhere else in the play?

Expert Answers
belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Twelfth Night is a mistaken-identity comedy by William Shakespeare.

The character of Malvolio is an upstanding citizen with illusions of chivalry and grandeur. After he scolds a group of revelers for their noise and behavior, they forge a letter from the perspective of his love, Olivia. The letter asks him to perform feats of greatness to win her heart, but although each feat is patently ridiculous, his romantic nature clouds his reason and he believes the letter is real. At one point, he reads aloud from the letter:

'If this fall into thy hand, revolve. In my stars I am above thee; but be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em. Thy Fates open their hands; let thy blood and spirit embrace them...'
(Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, eNotes eText)

The letter entreats Malvolio to achieve greatness by following its instructions. The act of writing is not shown, and the only other appearance of the line is at the end, when Feste the Clown mocks Malvolio by repeating it. The unreasoned pursuit of greatness leads to Malvolio's humiliation.

cookie1506 | Student

Thank you; I thought this was said three times. Twice by Malviolo

and once by Feste?

Read the study guide:
Twelfth Night

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