or What You Will by William Shakespeare (1600)

Dramatis Personae

ORSINO Duke of Illyria.
CURIO Gentleman attending on the Duke.
VALENTINE Gentleman attending on the Duke.
VIOLA in love with the Duke.
A SEA CAPTAIN friend to Viola.
SIR TOBY BELCH Uncle of Olivia.
MARIA Olivia's Companion.
FESTE A Jester and Servant to Olivia.
OLIVIA a rich Countess.
MALVOLIO Steward to Olivia.
FABIAN Servant to Olivia.
SEBASTIAN a young Gentleman, brother to Viola.
ANTONIO a Sea Captain, friend to Sebastian.
Lords, Priest (sometimes played as Sir Topas, the curate, whom Feste impersonates), Sailors, Officers, Musicians, and other Attendants.

SCENE: A City in Illyria; and the Sea-coast near it.

Act I

  • Scene 1 - Orsino muses upon his love for Olivia.
  • Scene 2 - Viola, surviving the shipwreck and fearing her brother is dead, decides to disguise herself and enter the Duke's service.
  • Scene 3 - Sir Toby and Maria discuss his drinking, and Olivia's displeasure at his antics. They also reveal that Sir Andrew is an idiot, which is well substantiated when Sir Andrew enters mid-scene. Sir Toby and Sir Andrew discuss Sir Andrew's chances at wooing Olivia.
  • Scene 4 - Viola (as Cesario) is the Count's favorite and confidante. Orsino sends her to woo Olivia on his behalf, and Viola reveals to the audience that she is in love with him.
  • Scene 5 - Feste returns from an ungiven leave and wins back into Olivia's favor although there is some bad feeling between Feste and Malvolio. Viola woos a reluctant Olivia and succeeds beyond anyone's expectations. Olivia sends Malvolio after 'Cesario' with a ring as a token.
Act II
  • Scene 1 - Sebastian takes his leave of Antonio, who had saved him from the shipwreck. Sebastian explains that he will seek service with Count Orsino. Antonio decides to follow him, even though he would be in danger.
  • Scene 2 - Malvolio catches up with Viola and 'returns' the ring. Viola ponders the significance of Olivia's actions and realizes that she must be in love with Cesario.
  • Scene 3 - Sir Toby and Sir Andrew make a drunken ruckus; Feste sings a song; Malvolio berates them for unseemly behavior; Maria takes Sir Toby's part. Maria conceives of a scheme to make a fool of Malvolio.
  • Scene 4 - Orsino and Viola discuss love. Orsino explains what 'Cesario' should look for, and Viola describes the person she loves as being of 'his complexion.' Feste sings a song. Viola tries to convince Orsino that he should give up pursuing Olivia since she does not return his love. She tells the story of her 'sister' who concealed her unreturned love.
  • Scene 5 - Maria drops a faked anonymous love letter from Olivia to Malvolio in Malvolio's path. Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Fabian watch and comment as Malvolio is completely taken in.
  • Scene 1 - Viola speaks with a wise fool and then a real fool. Olivia declares her love for Cesario, and Viola rejects her.
  • Scene 2 - Sir Andrew is offended by the favor Olivia has shown Cesario, and Sir Toby and Fabian incite him to write Cesario a challenge, knowing full well that he is a coward. Maria informs them that Malvolio has tricked himself out exactly as her letter requested.
  • Scene 3 - Antonio catches up with Sebastian in Orsino's city. Antonio explains that he is a wanted man, but was concerned for Sebastian's welfare. He gives Sebastian his purse and then goes to the lodging.
  • Scene 4 - Maria primes Olivia with the idea that Malvolio has cracked. Malvolio comes in, cross gartered, smiling like an idiot, and misconstruing all Olivia's words as he follows the letter, well, to the letter. Sir Toby and Fabian join Maria in baiting Malvolio, and then indicate that they will lock him up as a madman. Sir Andrew arrives with an absurd challenge letter, which Sir Toby promises to deliver. Sir Toby waylays Viola and he and Fabian have some fun convincing Viola and Sir Andrew that the other is an expert swordsman. Just as they are about to fight, Antonio arrives, mistakes Viola for Sebastian, and stops the fight. Soldiers arrive and arrest Antonio, and Antonio asks for his purse. When Viola indicates her confusion, Antonio is terribly hurt and angry, and berates 'Sebastian' for ingratitude.
Act IV
  • Scene 1 - The confusion mounts as Feste mistakes Sebastian for Cesario, and tries to bring him to Olivia. Sir Andrew waylays him, also thinking that he is Cesario, and starts a fight. Sebastian, a healthy specimen well versed in the manly arts, repulses Sir Andrew easily. Olivia comes on the scene, berates Sir Toby, and begs 'Cesario' to not be angry, and to go with her. Sebastian, startled but not unwilling, goes.
  • Scene 2 - Feste masquerades as the curate and baits Malvolio, currently locked in a lightless room, while Sir Toby and Maria look on. Upon being informed that Sir Toby would like to end the prank because he is out of favor with Olivia, Feste agrees to take a letter from Malvolio to Olivia.
  • Scene 3- Sebastian is happily flabbergasted and says 'yes' when Olivia asks that he marry her immediately, although she promises to keep it secret until he wishes it otherwise.
Act V
  • Scene 1 - One last burst of confusion and dismay in which all is revealed. Orsino finally visits Olivia in person, bringing Cesario (Viola) and other attendants with him. Antonio is brought forward as a criminal, and Viola takes his part for having helped her. They are all mystified at his claim that he and ''That most ingrateful boy there'' had spent the last three months together. However, Olivia's arrival distracts Orsino. When she dismisses his devotion, he reveals that he is perhaps smarter than he has heretofore demonstrated. Declaring that he realizes that Olivia does not love him because she prefers Cesario, he angrily states that he will take his revenge out upon that beloved young man. Viola, in choosing to go with Orsino seems to deny the newly wedded Olivia, who reveals the marriage. Orsino rejects Cesario and all looks doomed UNTIL.... Sir Andrew comes in claiming that Cesario has attacked he and Sir Toby. Viola is aghast, and even the distracted Orsino now realizes that something is not altogether making sense. Sir Toby blows off Sir Andrew, revealing that he has been made a may-game of. FINALLY, Sebastian enters, to the startlement of all. When he notices Viola, he is understandably confused, and Viola is revealed. Happiness abounds as Olivia and Orsino both get something of what they want (since Cesario was patterned after Sebastian, and Viola is a romantic and beautiful woman whom Orsino already loves). The loose end of Malvolio is tied up without any sudden and miraculous joy on his part. He departs having the plot revealed to all, being proven a prideful fool.

My favorite film adaptation? Trevor Nunn's heavily manipulated rendition (1996). The acting is excellent, the soundtrack is marvelous, and the whole thing is a joyous (although sometime poignant) romp. My favorite audio recording? The Naxos unabridged (1999) is, in my opinion, superior to the BBC version. The relative 'ages' of the voices for Olivia and Viola are more realistic, and I also prefer the rougher Orsino, as he makes that whole 'kill him to spite you' bit more believable.

URP! I've just realized that my numbering convention is off. Most texts include the stage direction but not blank lines. I've only counted lines of speech. I'm fixing it, and will list the fixed scenes here: III.ii; III.iii; III.iv; IV.i; IV.ii; IV.iii; V.i.

The text for the scenes comes from Project Gutenberg. However, and I know this is problematic, I've changed a few things. I've removed some contractions (writing out the words), fixed some typos, and added the line numbering.