What is an example of a pun in Twelfth Night in Act II, scenes ii or iii?

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Kale Emmerich eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Act 2 Scene 3, many of the characters in Twelfth Night are discussing matters jovially and joking around with the Clown. Sir Andrew, enticing the Clown to sing a song, instructs him to sing a specific one that begins "Hold thy peace".

Sir Andrew: 'Tis not the first time I have constrained one to call me knave. Begin, fool: it begins "Hold thy peace."

Clown: I shall never begin if I hold my peace.

This quote is the Clown making a joke about the meaning of the words of the song. The term "hold thy peace" or "hold your peace" typically means to be silent. The Clown is asking how he is supposed to sing a song while he's also being asked to remain silent.

There are many other puns in this passage, as the play is a comedy that is full of twists of words and wit. See if you can find some more!

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Sir Andrew and Feste use puns on the words “catch” and “knave.”

A pun is a play on words, where you use the meanings of words in different ways for humor.

One of the best punsters in the play is the fool, Feste. He often plays with words, because it is his job. In Act II, scene iii, there is a pun involving the two meanings of the word “catch." The men have asked for a catch, meaning a song.  Feste sings a love song. Then there is this interaction.

SIR ANDREW

An you love me, let's do't: I am dog at a catch.

Clown

By'r lady, sir, and some dogs will catch well. (Act 2, Scene 3) 

The pun is that Andrew means that he is a good singer, but he uses the words “dog” and “catch” in the same sentence, and that is really too good to pass up for Feste. He makes a joke about dogs catching, referring to the playing of catch or fetch with a dog.

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