Twelfth Night Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What is the importance of the two songs in Act 2, Scene 3 of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night?

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The first song that the fool sings is to Sir Toby. The lyrics begin by addressing his “mistress mine,” which is Olivia, to ask where she is “roaming.” At this point in the play, Olivia is searching for love, but the song indicates love will come for her—in the form of Sebastian, as we learn later. However, the second verse suggests that her future is “unsure.” By the end of the song, it seems to suggest that she just needs to settle with whoever she has found already (Orsino), because her youth “will not endure.” Instead of holding out for the perfect lover, one should just take whoever shows interest, before they grow old. This song ultimately shows that those who search endlessly for love will not find it. Instead, they have to accept that love will find them.

The fool sings the second song at the behest of Orsino, who is feeling discouraged that Olivia has not yet returned his pledge of love. This song has a morose tone, with the speaker of the lyrics outlining his...

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