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An Untangled Knot

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Act Three
Scene 1: OLIVIA’S garden.


OLIVIA: Before I even speak, your eyes rebuke me.
I sent a ring after you, and so did I abuse
Myself, my servant and, I fear me, you.
Tell me what thou thinkest of me.

VIOLA: That you do think you are not what you are.

OLIVIA: If I think so, I think the same of you.

VIOLA: Then think you right: I am not what I am.

OLIVIA: I would you were as I would have you be!

VIOLA: Would it be better, madam, than I am?
I wish it might, for now I am your fool.

OLIVIA: A foolish thought! I would you were yourself
And employ your tongue in more honest service
With these games you make me play the fool
whilst you, Cesario, play Orsino’s tool.

VIOLA: Lady, put away these unkind thoughts.
I praise you in my master’s stead, ‘tis true
But ev’ry aspect shining in his eyes
I see as well with mine: your lily hands,
your coral lips, your storm-cloud eyes.
If you be a fool, then none of us are wise.

OLIVIA: O, what a deal of scorn looks beautiful
In the contempt and anger of his lip!
So like a boy, as though the world revolves
‘Round him and his desires and resolves.
And yet you think yourself cleverer still.

VIOLA: If that were true, then I would know your will.

OLIVIA: Very well, then, I shall speak plain.
‘What is your parentage?’
‘Above my fortunes, yet my state is well:
I am a gentleman.’ And it may be
That this is what your master does believe
But I am not so easy to deceive.

VIOLA: O lady, do you dally with me?
How can you accuse me thus?
I am my master’s faithful minion.
Do you prick me down a counterfeit,
a cullion, a cutpurse, and an ingle?
Do I belie Orsino by trading under false colours?

[Aside] Those darts fly too near the mark.
And yet I dare not confess the truth.

Look, here is the ring that you sent after me.
If I take nothing from you, you have no cause to contemn me.

OLIVIA: It is too late. You have taken a thing from me,
but I will not have it back, it is yours, now.
Gladly I leave my heart in your keeping.

VIOLA: If I keep your heart, I am indeed a thief.
My list is but to bring it to my master
Whose own you stole: a heart for a heart
And let that be an end to the affair.

OLIVIA: Cesario, if that is your name, you misconstrue me
It is not the ‘gentle’ but the ‘man’ I dispute.
If your master sees only your outward guise
He is not worthy of your service nor your prize.

VIOLA: What’s this? O lady, you mistake me.

OLIVIA: Come now, you said you do not take me
for a fool; will you deny your nature even now?

VIOLA: [Aside] She has discovered me, though I know not how!

You have found me out; I bow my head and
humbly beg your compassion. I see now your words
were meant to entrap me and lead me to a profession
I can not fulfill. I ask only that you not betray me to Orsino.

OLIVIA: But would you love me, were you a man?

VIOLA: Were I a man, I’d kneel me at your feet.
I’d strew damask’d roses to beautify your path.
Jewels would I bestow, to consecrate my love.
Ah, but that’s not to the point. Were I a man
I’d not have taken on Orsino’s charge
To woo you thusly, as his messenger.

OLIVIA: So would you love me, as you are?

VIOLA: Why do you ask, if not to torture me?
You said once you might love me as Cesario
But poor Viola has only earned your scorn.
Do you sport with others’ hearts, like the blind archer
Who sets his darts with mockery and spite
And laughs at the mad chaos that ensues?
A beggar may lose his heart to a queen
But knows he can not enter at the gate.

OLIVIA: Viola! ‘Tis a lovely name!
And nearly my own, with the letters exchanged.

VIOLA: Since my name is yours, but lacking an ‘I’
That letter shall leave you, and bid you good-bye.

OLIVIA: Tarry! How can I credit my ears and my eyes
How are you so clever, yet so unwise?
It is not Cesario I love, but Viola
Be she in female or male disguise.

VIOLA: A foolish girl once landed on these shores
And saw a Duke, and thought herself in love;
A cocky boy once came into this garden
And thought his duty only to his lord.
Cesario’s voice spoke Orsino’s words
But Viola’s heart learned a new mistress.
And if Viola loved Olivia, what then?
Think you that in this world of men, our love
Would be allowed to flourish on the vine?
Imagine what they’d say: “Pity those girls;
Each has lost a brother, and in sorrow
Each gave to the other her comfort
But sweet affection has the serpent turned
To false love, while noble men are spurned.”
Despite your heart, you’ll be Orsino’s wife
And I retired to a convent, to end my life.

OLIVIA: Nay! I shall not marry a man, unless he be Cesario.
That is, if Cesario will have me.

VIOLA: What, and betray his master? Cesario’s honor bound.
Viola would have you, but Viola may not.
O, here’s a pretty pickle!

OLIVIA: Do not despair, sweetest Viola:
I am a lady of independent means.
I have heard of an island, far from here
Where two consonant hearts might live
And keep company far from prying eyes.
Poseidon’s salty tides defend its rocky clefts
And hidden grottos await our pilgrimage.
So if thou wouldst another voyage brave
Gladly would I leave my household and suitor
And journey with thee to that happy isle.
If Cesario will take me as his bride
Olivia shall live, espoused Viola at her side.

VIOLA: Can this be? O joy! With thee I’ll gladly fly
And to Olivia’s fortunes, my own I’ll tie.

OLIVIA: Then, turning our backs on the weary world of men,
Let us to the place where Venus arose.
Zephyrs shall bear us to that golden shore
Hand in hand, we’ll seek the goddess’ blessing
Come, let me divest thee of thy disguise
Together we shall find our paradise.