THE WORLD OF THE COMEDIES
|1.||The young men and women, who dwell in that romantically devised world, of youth, and dreams, and laughter, of which he possessed, and retains, the secret; and|
|2.||The workaday people, who keep things going--ploughmen, shepherds, servingmen, stewards, waiting-maids--with the unconverted drinkers, jesters, rogues, and odd fellows in a kind of limbo between the two regions--between upstairs and down--all plodding, stepping, tripping, and staggering along in a world of the four elements--of food and drink and sleep and labour. You may study this double world in any of these comedies: very fruitfully in Much Ado and As You Like It: most clearly, perhaps, in Twelfth Night. Like all these romantic comedies Twelfth Night is partly serious, and partly comic: a mixture of love and fun. The love story is the plot: it is serious, southern, and poetical. The comic story is the under-plot. It is not at all serious; it is anything but southern; and it is in prose. We don't at first know where we are when the play opens, and we very soon understand that it doesn't in the least matter. We are in the Utopia of lovers, where there is much despair, but no broken hearts.|
All these plays are sweet with music: it is a part of this fairyland, the food of love. The Young Duke, being then in perfect health, sitting among his equally healthy lords, breathes out his luxurious agonies to the God of Love. It is a picture of eternal youth, framed in a setting of music, and poetry, and cushions, and flowers. What then, is the climate of these sweet tortures? Do we care? Viola comes to land.
Viola. What country, friends, is this?
Captain. This is Illyria, lady.