Although for the most part Viola's soliloquy
as it was first published in the
First Folio of 1623 was free of errors and textual
inconsistencies, subsequent editors have found several sites of contention in this text.
One of these such questionable spots exists at Act II, scene ii, lines 30-31. At this
point in the plot, Viola has an
The first change was made by the editors of the
Second Folio who emended the beginning of line 30 to
read "our frailtie" instead of "O frailtie." This change was made with an understanding
that "O" had been a mistake and the "real" text of the play read "our" instead.
Although this change is minor, the use of "our" has a different
effect on the lines by directly linking the the frailty that Viola is expressing to the
feminine, as in the frailty of all women by virtue of their gender.
The second change to be considered occurs on line 31 where the
First Folio has "For such as we are made, if such we be." According to the Arden
editors, both Thirlby and Tyrwhitt (their text versions were not available) emended this
line to "For such as we are made of, such we be." If the sense of "made" is read as a
version of the verb "to make," then the original line seems vague and senseless. The
change from "if" to "of" allows us to understand the line. Now we can read the line to
mean that women such as Viola were "made", presumably by God, like that (i.e. full of
frailty). As in the first emendation, this change also provokes a particularly feminist
critique because it reasserts that frailty is a feminine quality.
This is the most prevalent modern reading for these lines, but there is
As scholars such as Random Cloud have shown, 'e's were
sometimes silent and not included for pronounciation purposes.
If we take this suggestion
then the word could be read as our modern day word "mad."
Twelfth Night and other Shakespearean plays do sometimes read "made" or "madde" as "mad,"
with the same meanings as the modern word.
This reading of "made" gives meaning to the lines as they originally appeared.
This reading makes equal sense in the context of
Viola's speech.The reading is not necessarily better because it uses the original
text, but it does suggest that editors may have been a little overzealous in this case.