THE WHIMSICAL AND OTHER ALLUSIONS IN THE PLAY
Pick out and explain the curious allusions in the play, noticing that
these may be classed as geographical, mythological, astrological, or
referable to persons or customs of the time, or books of the day. For
examples of the latter class, note Sir Toby's 'diluculo surgere' (II.
, for 'Saluberrimum est dilucolu surgere,' an adage from Lilly's
Grammar, doubtless one of Shakespeare's text-books at the Edward VI.
School in Stratford; and Viola's 'Some Mollification for your giant
sweet lady' (I. v.),--an allusion to the innumerable romances whose
fair ladies are guarded by giants; for Maria, being very small, Viola
ironically calls her giant, and asks Olivia to pacify her because she
has opposed her message. (For Shakespeare's education and
school-books, see Bayne's remarks on this subject in Brit. Encyc. art.
Shakespeare.) The whole incident of the 'possession' of Malvolio, and
the visit of Sir Topas, probably alludes to a tract published in 1599
by Dr. Harsnett,--'A Discovery of the Fraudulent Practices of John
Darrel,'--in which is narrated how the Starkeys' children were
possessed by a demon, and how the Puritan minister, Mr. Darrel, was
concerned in it. For examples of allusions to contemporary customs,
see Sir Toby's mention of dances no longer known,--'Galliard,'
'Coranto,' etc. As an example of allusions to persons of that time,
Sir Toby's reference to 'Mistress Mall's picture,'--Mary Frith, born
in 1584, died in 1659, a notorious woman who used to go about in man's
clothing and was the target for much abuse. Astrological allusions:
'Were we not born under Taurus?' 'That's sides and hearts,' which
refers to the medical astrology still preserved in patent-medicine
almanacs, where the figure of a man has his various parts named by the
signs of the Zodiac. 'Diana's lip' (I. iv.), ('Arion on the Dolphin's
back' I. ii.), are examples of mythological allusions. Of the
geographical allusions there are two kinds, the real and the
sportive,--Illyria, an example of the one, the 'Vapians' and the
'Equinoctial of Queubus,' of the other. Go on through the play
classifying and commenting on the allusions. What was a 'catch'? Give