Act IV - Scene I

Before Olivia's house.

[Enter Sebastian and Feste.]

Will you make me believe that I am not sent for you?
Go to, go to, thou art a foolish fellow;
Let me be clear of thee.
Well held out, i' faith! No, I do not know you; nor I am
not sent to you by my lady, to bid you come speak with her;(5)
nor your name is not Master Cesario; nor this is not my nose
neither. Nothing that is so is so.
I prithee, vent thy folly somewhere else: Thou know'st
not me.
Vent my folly! he has heard that word of some great man(10)
and now applies it to a fool. Vent my folly! I am afraid this
great lubber, the world, will prove a cockney. I prithee now,
ungird thy strangeness and tell me what I shall vent to my
lady: shall I vent to her that thou art coming?
I prithee, foolish Greek, depart from me:(15)
There's money for thee: if you tarry longer,
I shall give worse payment.
By my troth, thou hast an open hand. These wise men
that give fools money get themselves a good report—after
fourteen years' purchase.(20)

[Enter Sir Andrew, Sir Toby, and Fabian.]

Now, sir, have I met you again?
there's for you. [strikes Sebastian]
Why, there's for thee, and there, and there. [strikes Sir Andrew] Are all the
people mad? [draws his dagger]
Hold, sir, or I'll throw your dagger o'er the house. (25)
[seizes Sebastian's arm]
This will I tell my lady straight. I would not be in
some of your coats for two pence.

[Exit Feste.]

Come on, sir; hold.
Nay, let him alone: I'll go another way to work
with him; I'll have an action of battery against him, if(30)
there be any law in Illyria: though I struck him first, yet
it's no matter for that.
Let go thy hand.
Come, sir, I will not let you go. Come, my young
soldier, put up your iron: you are well fleshed; come(35)
I will be free from thee. [breaks away and draws sword] What wouldst thou now?
If thou dar'st tempt me further, draw thy sword.
What, what? Nay, then I must have an ounce or two
of this malapert blood from you. [draws] (40)

[Enter Olivia.]

Hold, Toby; on thy life, I charge thee hold.
Will it be ever thus? Ungracious wretch,
Fit for the mountains and the barbarous caves,
Where manners ne'er were preach'd! Out of my sight!(45)
Be not offended, dear Cesario.
Rudesby, be gone!

[Exeunt Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Fabian.]

I pr'ythee, gentle friend,
Let thy fair wisdom, not thy passion, sway
In this uncivil and unjust extent(50)
Against thy peace. Go with me to my house,
And hear thou there how many fruitless pranks
This ruffian hath botch'd up, that thou thereby
Mayst smile at this: thou shalt not choose but go;
Do not deny. Beshrew his soul for me,(55)
He started one poor heart of mine in thee.
What relish is in this? how runs the stream?
Or I am mad, or else this is a dream:
Let fancy still my sense in Lethe steep;(60)
If it be thus to dream, still let me sleep!
Nay, come, I prithee; would thou'dst be ruled by
Madam, I will.
O, say so, and so be!



  1. This is a saying that meant “what is the meaning of this?” Sebastian is confused by Olivia’s familiarity with him because he does not know that his sister has been posing as a man

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. “Rudesby” means ruffian or someone of violent and base actions. Olivia insults Sir Andrew and Sir Toby by calling them base, which is insulting because they are both noblemen.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. “Malapert” means insolent or lacking respect. In this insult, Toby remarks on what he believes is Sebastian’s low class, as he believes Sebastian is Cesario and a servant.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. The fool unwittingly states the major theme of the play in this line: disguise and performance change the inherent nature of people and feelings. Feste’s statement serves two purposes. First, it reminds the audience that they are watching a play and that everything performed is not real. Second, the actual characters within the play are constantly performing and therefore never who they appear to be.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. Feste responds sarcastically to Sebastian’s claim that he does not know him. However, this is a moment of comedic dramatic irony because the audience knows that this is not Cesario but Sebastian: he does not actually know Feste and is not who he appears to be.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  6. Sebastian’s response to Olivia takes on the form of a heroic couplet, popularly used to end a sonnet in order to deliver a moral or a truism. Most importantly, Olivia’s next lines complete Sebastian’s final couplet. Shakespeare would have used this as an indication of these two characters’ future together, because of their ability to speak in harmony.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. By an “action of battery,” Sir Andrew is saying that since he has had an unlawful attack upon him, he’ll likely take Sebastian (who he believes to be Cesario) to court for justice, “if there by any law in Illyria.”

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  8. Since calling Feste a foolish fool would have been perhaps too redundant, Shakespeare employs the word “Greek” with a different meaning. In this context, a “Greek” refers to a merry person who has silly habits. When compared to the phrase "it's all Greek to me," which means that a language or idea is difficult to understand, it is easier to see how it can be used to call a person foolish or nonsensical.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  9. Feste is implying that wise men who give their money to fools pay a high price. The value of a piece of land was usually calculated by the amount of rent collected on it during a period of twelve years. A purchase price calculated over fourteen years of rent payment would be a very high price.

    — Owl Eyes Reader
  10. "Well fleshed" is a hunting phrase that means eager to fight. Hunters would give their dogs a taste of the flesh of the prey, which would whet the dog's appetite and provoke it to chase after the prey.

    — Owl Eyes Reader
  11. Olivia means that she feared for Sebastian (whom she thinks is Cesario) upon hearing Sir Toby threaten him. The statement contains a pun on the word heart, similar to the pun regarding the same word in the first scene of Act I. To start an animal is to alarm it so that it will flee into the open and become an easier target.

    — Owl Eyes Reader
  12. In Greek mythology, Lethe was the river of forgetfulness, one of five rivers of the underworld. The others are Acheron (sorrow), Cocytus (lamentation), Phlegethon (fire), and Styx (the river that the gods swore unbreakable oaths to).

    — Owl Eyes Reader