Viola disguises herself as Cesario to seek employment from Orsino.

Sir Toby & Sir Andrew celebrate.

Cesario quickly earns Orsino’s favour.

Olivia decides to dismiss her jester Feste.

Cesario delivers the message of Orsino’s love.

Viola’s brother, Sebastian, arrives in Illyria.

Antonia decides to follow Sebastian.

Sir Andrew calls for more wine. Maria come to hush her.

Orsino remains oblivious to Viola’s love.

Malvolio finds the forged letter.

Fabian & Sir Toby encourage Sir Andrew to duel Viola/Cesario.

Sebastian wants to explore the area, but Antonia is nervous about being found.

Olivia sends for Malvolio.

Sir Andrew prepares to duel Cesario/Viola.

Sebastian proves able to defend himself.

Maria & Sir Toby torment Malvolio, with Feste disguised as a priest.

Sebastian accepts Olivia’s proposal.

Sebastian & Viola reunite.

Orsino realizes the person he really loves is Viola.

Act 1


The Coast of Illyria

Saved from a shipwreck by a friendly sea captain, Viola arrives in Illyria, safe, but separated from her brother. She wonders about her brother’s fate as the sea captain tells her about Orsino and Olivia. Deciding that seeking work from Olivia would be pointless due to the lady’s self-imposed isolation to mourn her own brother’s death, Viola instead resolves to disguise herself as a man and seek work from Orsino. The captain agrees to help her disguise herself.

Orsino’s Estate

The nobleman Orsino listens to music, lamenting his unrequited love for Olivia, who has gone into seclusion to mourn her brother, spurning Orsino’s advances.

Olivia’s aunt, “Sir” Toby Belch is out looking for a party and wonders about Olivia taking her brother’s death so hard. Maria, one of Olivia’s servants and Sir Toby’s partner, warns Sir Toby not to continue adding to Olivia’s worries with her excessive drinking. Sir Toby’s friend and drinking buddy, “Sir” Andrew Aguecheek (who fancies herself a knight), arrives, and at Sir Toby’s encouragement, pursues Maria in hopes of getting closer to Olivia, who Andrew hopes to marry. Maria, however, rebuffs Sir Andrew. Discouraged, Sir Andrew says she will be leaving the next day. Sir Toby again encourages Sir Andrew in her pursuit of Olivia, and when Sir Andrew agrees to stay another month, the pair celebrate.

Viola, now disguised as a young man by the name of Cesario, has begun work in Orsino’s household, and has quickly won Orsino’s favour. Orsino decides to send Cesario to Olivia’s house to win Olivia over on his behalf, thinking that an endearing, youthful man like Cesario (really Viola) might have more luck.


Cesario,  Thou know’st no less but all. I have unclasped
To thee the book even of my secret soul.
Therefore, good youth, address thy gait unto her.
Be not denied access. Stand at her doors
And tell them, there thy fixèd foot shall grow
Till thou have audience.

Orsino, ACT 1, Scene 4

Olivia’s Estate

Olivia decides to dismiss her jester, Feste, as she finds the jester unreliable, and no longer entertaining. Her mind is changed when Feste calls her a fool for mourning her brother so deeply when she claims to believe his soul is in heaven.  Meanwhile, Viola/Cesario arrives at Olivia’s house, and is met by Sir Toby. Olivia sends Malvolio to speak with Viola/Cesario and says to turn the man away if he brings a message from Orsino. Annoyed with her aunt’s drunkenness, Olivia instructs Maria to watch over Sir Toby for now.

Malvolio reports that the visitor persists and insists on speaking to Olivia. After hearing Malvolio describe him, she reluctantly agrees to meet the young messenger, and demands he get to the point. Cesario delivers the message of Orsino’s love and tells Olivia about how badly Orsino is hurt by her continued rejections. Viola/Cesario is so convincing that Olivia, rather than accepting Orsino’s offer of love, falls for the young messenger.

When Viola/Cesario leaves, Olivia sends Malvolio out to find the young man and return a ring that she claims the young man left with her.


Make me a willow cabin at your gate
And call upon my soul within the house,
Write loyal cantons of contemnèd love
And sing them loud even in the dead of night,
Hallow your name to the reverberate hills
And make the babbling gossip of the air
Cry out “Olivia!” O, you should not rest
Between the elements of air and earth
But you should pity me.

Viola/Cesario ACT 1, Scene 5

Act 2


Olivia’s Estate

Viola’s brother, Sebastian, arrives in Illyria with the help of Antonia. Sebastian and Antonia prepare to part ways, and Sebastian tries to make sense of his sister’s presumed death at sea. Sebastian announces his intention to go alone to Orsino’s court, where Antonia has enemies. Despite the danger posed to her, Antonia decides to follow Sebastian.


On the road between Olivia and Orsino’s estates

Meanwhile, Malvolio catches up to Viola/Cesario and attempts to return the ring. After Malvolio leaves, Viola expresses her confusion, as Orsino had never sent Olivia a ring. She draws the conclusion that Olivia must have feelings for her (as Cesario). Viola then laments the complicated situation created by this, as Viola herself has fallen for Orsino, who is hopelessly in love with Olivia, who it seems is now infatuated with Cesario.


The gentleness of all the gods go with thee!
I have many enemies in Orsino’s court,
Else would I very shortly see thee there.
But come what may, I do adore thee so
That danger shall seem sport, and I will go.

Antonia, ACT 2, Scene 1

Olivia’s Garden

After a long night of drinking, Sir Toby and Sir Andrew send for wine, and demand a song from Feste. Maria comes to hush the trio and warn them that they really don’t want to wake up Malvolio. Sir Toby is unphased by this news and continues singing even when Malvolio arrives to chew them out and ultimately to tell them Olivia will kick them out if they don’t straighten up. Annoyed by Malvolio’s puritanical ways, Maria, Sir Toby, and Sir Andrew conspire to humiliate Malvolio. Maria suggests forging love letters from Olivia for Malvolio to find.

Back at Orsino’s house, Orsino demands music. As they wait, Orsino asks Viola/Cesario if he has ever fallen in love with anyone. When Viola/Cesario responds by describing someone like Orsino, Orsino himself remains oblivious. Orsino sends them to Olivia, and claims that no woman can feel so intensely as he does. Cesario objects to this and prepares to go to Olivia’s house.

At Olivia’s house, the plan to humiliate Malvolio is put into action. Malvolio fantasizes about the prospect of being married to Olivia, and being elevated from his current position, much to the annoyance of a spectating Sir Toby. Malvolio finds the forged letter instructing him to behave in uncharacteristic ways in order to signal that he reciprocates the letter writer’s feelings.


Daylight and champian discovers not more! This is
open. I will be proud, I will read politic authors, I
will baffle Sir Toby, I will wash off gross acquaintance,
I will be point-devise the very man. I do not
now fool myself, to let imagination jade me; for
every reason excites to this, that my lady loves me.
She did commend my yellow stockings of late, she
did praise my leg being cross-gartered, and in this
she manifests herself to my love and, with a kind of
injunction, drives me to these habits of her liking. I
thank my stars, I am happy. I will be strange, stout,
in yellow stockings, and cross-gartered, even with
the swiftness of putting on. Jove and my stars be

Malvolio, ACT 2, Scene 5

Act 3


Olivia’s Estate

Viola/Cesario shows up at Olivia’s house and is met by Feste. They have a brief conversation and Viola realizes that she had seen Feste performing at Orsino’s house earlier. Olivia enters and declares her love for Viola/Cesario.  Viola/Cesario rejects her love and leaves Olivia to plan how to win the youth over.

Sir Andrew, after spying Olivia and Cesario together, grows jealous, and again announces her plans to leave. Fabian, one of Olivia’s servants, suggests Olivia was only using Viola/Cesario to make Sir Andrew jealous. Fabian and Sir Toby encourage Sir Andrew to challenge Viola/Cesario to a duel, claiming it would impress Olivia. Maria comes and informs them that Malvolio is making himself ridiculous, doing all the things the forged letter told him to do.

Sebastian arrives in Illyria and is met by Antonia who has followed him. Sebastian wants to explore the area, but Antonia is nervous about being found. Antonia explains that she is a wanted person in Illyria because she once attacked one of Orsino’s ships. She gives Sebastian some money and leaves to find them rooms and meals at an inn.

Olivia has sent for Malvolio, who Maria warns her is acting very strangely. When he appears, he is dressed in the way the forged letters described and behaving as the letter asked. Olivia becomes concerned and tells Maria to watch after Malvolio. Maria, Sir Toby, and Fabian proceed to torment Malvolio and act as though he has been possessed.


OLIVIA Smil’st thou? I sent for thee upon a sad

MALVOLIO Sad, lady? I could be sad. This does make
some obstruction in the blood, this cross-gartering,
but what of that? If it please the eye of one, it is
with me as the very true sonnet is: “Please one, and
please all.”

OLIVIA Why, how dost thou, man? What is the matter
with thee?

MALVOLIO Not black in my mind, though yellow in my
legs. It did come to his hands, and commands shall
be executed. I think we do know the sweet Roman

ACT 3, Scene 4

The City Street

Sir Andrew has written a letter challenging Viola/Cesario to a duel. Sir Toby takes it but decides not to pass it along to Cesario, instead telling Cesario about Sir Andrew’s challenge herself. Afterwards, Fabian speaks to Viola, making the cowardly Sir Andrew out to be a skilled and fierce fighter. Sir Toby speaks with Sir Andrew, making Cesario out to be a prodigal swordswoman. Antonia interrupts the fight, believing Viola/Cesario to be Sebastian.

Law enforcement shows up and take Antonia away, but not before she asks a confused Viola for the money she had given to Sebastian. When Viola denies knowing her, she takes it as a betrayal. Viola, however, has renewed hope that her brother may have survived the shipwreck.

Act 4


The City Street

Feste mistakes Sebastian for Cesario and attempts to bring him to Olivia’s house. Sebastian also encounters Sir Andrew and Sir Toby, though proves more able to defend himself than his sister. Feste returns to report this to Olivia, who goes out herself to break up the fight. Olivia brings Sebastian back to her home, believing him to be Cesario.


Olivia’s Cellar

Feste, Maria and Sir Toby torment Malvolio, this time with Feste disguised as a priest. Malvolio initially believes that the priest has come to help him out of the dark chamber he has been locked into. Sir Toby begins to think better of continuing to torment Malvolio, as she is already in trouble with her niece Olivia. Feste speaks with Malvolio again, this time as herself, and allows Malvolio to write Olivia a letter.


Olivia’s Garden

Sebastian has been unable to find his friend Antonia. Olivia proposes to him.


This is the air; that is the glorious sun.
This pearl she gave me, I do feel ’t and see ’t.
And though ’tis wonder that enwraps me thus,
Yet ’tis not madness. Where’s Antonio, then?
I could not find him at the Elephant.
Yet there he was; and there I found this credit,
That he did range the town to seek me out.
His counsel now might do me golden service.
For though my soul disputes well with my sense
That this may be some error, but no madness,
Yet doth this accident and flood of fortune
So far exceed all instance, all discourse,
That I am ready to distrust mine eyes
And wrangle with my reason that persuades me
To any other trust but that I am mad—
Or else the lady’s mad.

Sebastian, ACT 4, Scene 3

Act 5


The City Street

Orsino finally goes to Olivia’s house, and encounters Antonia and the officer. Viola/Cesario tries to defend Antonia because she came to her defense against Sir Andrew. Olivia enters. After confronting Orsino, Olivia refers to Cesario as her husband. This angers Orsino. Sir Andrew and Sir Toby enter injured and accuse Viola/Cesario of hurting them, before exiting to seek medical treatment. But all becomes clear when Sebastian enters the scene apologizing for his fight with Sir Andrew and Sir Toby. The siblings reunite.


Do I stand there? I never had a brother,
Nor can there be that deity in my nature
Of here and everywhere. I had a sister
Whom the blind waves and surges have devoured.
Of charity, what kin are you to me?
What countryman? What name? What parentage?

Sebastian, ACT 5, Scene 1


Viola reveals herself to be a woman, and Olivia realizes she’s married the wrong person. Malvolio enters and demands Olivia explain why she’s had him tormented. She discovers that Maria and Toby forged the letter, and he leaves in a rage. Orsino realizes the person he really loves is Viola, Olivia accepts that being married to Sebastian is exciting and they end happy.