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 Twelfth Night? Olivia's character in this scene?

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PostSubject: Twelfth Night? Olivia's character in this scene?   Thu May 27, 2010 7:45 am

When she tells Malvolio to give Cesario the ring, what she tells him is that Cesario left the ring with her (which isn't true). She then goes on to say that she is not interested in his master (something everybody already knows) and that if Cesario returns the next day, she will give them more information.

The ring serves two purposes. For one, it gives her an excuse to send Malvolio after Cesario to pass on the message that he should come back the next day. It would be pretty dumb to send a servant out to tell Cesario what she had just finished telling him. This way, Malvolio has a purpose to go after him and therefore, she can also have him (Malvolio) deliver her message.

Purpose two is to signal to Cesario her interest. As Olivia says, "unless the master was the man", which means she wishes Orsino was more like Cesario. Of course, she couldn't just propose a trystoutright with Cesario, it would be wildly inappropriate. For one thing, his duty is to his master, so he can't (outwardly) show any interest in Olivia. For another, it would be highly inappropriate for a lady of Olivia's standings to proposition a man. By sending the ring, (which Cesario/Viola will know was NOT hers, as Olivia tells Malvolio) this signals to Cesario that Olivia is interested with ou her coming out and saying it... kind of like how back in medieval times, ladies would give knights tokens of their affections, like a handkerchief or what not, to show they were interested in being courted. Of course, when Cesario receives the ring, it freaks him out, because s/he realizes that it is a sign that Olivia is interested in him/her, which is obviously quite prolematic for Viola.

Yes, she wants to talk to Cesario again, but along with that, she wants to signal that she would be open to starting some sort of romantic involvement.
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