Foreshadowing in Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night opens with Duke Orsino’s now famous line, “If music be the food of love, play on…”

In Act 1 Scene 2, when Viola decides to dress as a boy to enter into Orsino’s service, she tells the Captain that she will be of value to the Duke because, “I can sing and speak to him in many sorts of music.”

Have I just always missed the glaring significance of that line? Am I the one in the audience that’s not immediately saying, “Oooooo!  I bet they end up together!!!!”

4 thoughts on “Foreshadowing in Twelfth Night

  1. And when you unpack the metaphor of playing different kinds of music, the sexually charged line becomes even more provocative. In fact, reading the whole play in terms of sexually charged metaphors is a seductive way of teaching the play to people who claim to hate Shakespeare. But, hey, that is just one curmudgeonly theater guy's impression.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Oops! In your review of "Strange Magic" you twice stated in your explanation to your students, "there's movies". Movies is plural, thus the verb should compliment the noun: "there're movies". I'm sorry. I am just a grammar freak! I love this site, by the way

  3. Point noted (though why you're commenting on this post and not that one I'm not sure :)). However, since it's in the context of "How I explain it to my children" and thus more of a quote, I'm going to leave it. I don't claim to speak with proper grammar at all times.

  4. Wayne Myers says:

    They certainly seem made for each other–at first. And then comes the game changer–Viola-Cesario meets Olivia. What's it like to have the most beautiful woman in Ilyria want you? And then comes act 2, scene 4. Orsino and Viola-Cesario are drawing ever closer. But he thinks she's a boy. The characters seem so sexually unaware at the beginning, but now…. Who loves whom at the end? Fascinating!

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