And all the brothers, too–and yet I know not.”
Day 13, 755: I am all the daughters of my father’s house
I name this day to honor the production of Twelfth Night Heather and I saw tonight starring Mark Rylance. It’s my first time seeing him perform, and it is indeed a glorious performance: the long elegant gliding arcs, the flurry of worried hands, the starting and stumbling over words once Cesario appears, and above all, that rare gift of making the words seem sudden and necessary that so few actors have, and especially in Shakespeare.
I did not think the rest of the production was particularly strong (and here I go against the opinion of many friends), and it seemed to me the production’s big idea of authenticity left no room for any other ideas about who these characters are, and why we should tell this story now…still, solid Shakespeare is rare enough, and I’m grateful we began the year by seeing this.
The reason I’ve named the day after this particular line of Viola’s, however, is that I realized tonight that this is the exact moment in the play when I fall completely in love with her, much as I do with Rosalind’s “Men have died, from time to time, and worms have eaten, but not for love.”
It’s not just the opposite meanings that Viola deliberately gives and Orsino takes: It is the longing to tell him the truth; the longing to be her revealed self with him; and the the longing for her missing, presumed-dead brother that then spills into the next line “and all the brothers, too”; note how it shifts from “daughters” to “brothers” when it rhetorically it should be “sons”, and then cuts away with “and yet I know not”; and how this mistake and break-away reveal those longings and more; her survival’s guilt, the worm of concealment gnawing her cheek so that then when she offers to die to please Orsino, the raw ugliness of that abnegation has its seed in these few lines.
It is one of those great lines from Shakespeare where a whole character is bound up in a seemingly simple line whose meaning is complex and untranslatable…I could say more, but I’ve run out of day.
Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…
Writing: 1 out of the last 1 days (Be Happy Be Happy Be Happy)