Tearjerker / Twelfth Night

She never told her love,
But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud,
Feed on her damask cheek: she pined in thought,
And with a green and yellow melancholy
She sat like patience on a monument,
Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed?
We men may say more, swear more: but indeed
Our shows are more than will; for still we prove
Much in our vows, but little in our love.
Viola, scene IV
  • The treatment of Malvolio can certainly elicit this from some people.
  • The 1996 Trevor Nunn film adaption really puts emphasis on the sad aspects of the play, and very successfully so:
    • Viola believes Sebastian is dead from the start, and starts sobbing "Oh, my poor brother!" and tries to throw herself into the sea (and possibly drown herself) while screaming his name. The captain of the wrecked ship has to pull her into a Cooldown Hug.
    • Olivia puts on a brave face in public and then cries when she is alone with Feste.
    • Maria is less jolly and bawdy, seeming to be quite a melancholic, middle-aged woman who drowns her sorrows in drink, and appears to feel genuinely guilty during Malvolio's breakdown.
    • Feste, although comical, has elements of a tragic clown and is often sad and poetic.
    • Antonio's love for Sebastian and his distress when "Sebastian" refuses to help him.
    • Viola being unable to confess her feelings to Orsino, and loyally helping him try to woo Olivia (see the page quote).
    • Richard E. Grant plays up the tragic aspects of Sir Andrew excellently as well, particularly in the scene where a drunk Sir Toby finally tells him what he really thinks of him and how Sir Andrew has been "a gull" and a pawn in his financial schemes. Particularly heartbreaking is the way Andrew just walks sadly away and Viola stares after him while everyone else moves on.