No Scrubs

As the great Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas once sang, “a scrub is a guy that think he’s fine and is also known as a buster.” I believe that Olivia, if she were real and lived in the 21st century, would realize just how many scrubs she has in her household. Throughout the entirety of Twelfth Night, Olivia is surrounded by many men who are ranked below her in riches and intelligence, and many of them, falsely, believe they are entitled to marry her.

While Shakespeare may have worded it in a slightly more eloquent fashion, gold digger is an appropriate term for a number of Olivia’s suitors and male relatives. Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Sir Toby are prime examples of this disturbing character trait. Aguecheek spends the majority of the play bumbling around claims “I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit,” while Sir Toby spends the majority of the play tricking Malvolio and taking advantage of Aguecheek (I. iii. 85-86). After being tricked by Sir Toby into staying longer in order to woo Olivia, Aguecheek continuously shows his foolish nature to the audience. Eventually, even though it takes him a while to notice, Aguecheek eventually sees Olivia’s affections toward “Cesario” and says, “I saw your niece do more favours to the count’s serving-man than ever she bestowed upon me” (III. ii. 4-5). After losing his duel with Cesario, who was actually Sebastian, Aguecheek withdraws himself from the pool of Olivia’s suitors, one of his few wise decisions, and leaves Illyria with a fraction of the money he arrived with, courtesy of his “friend,” Sir Toby.

While Sir Toby’s intentions are, hopefully, different than those of Olivia’s suitors, Sir Toby has shown that he has no problem taking advantage of anyone, including his family and close friends. While speaking to Maria, Sir Toby says “I’ll drink to [Olivia] as long as there is a passage in my throat and drink in Illyria,” “drink” that Olivia likely paid for (I. iii. 38-39). While Toby embodies many “scrub”-like qualities, he still ends the play seemingly happily married to Maria. The most likely reason for Sir Toby’s happy ending in the play is his cunningness. What Malvolio and Sir Andrew lack in intelligence and cunningness, Sir Toby embodies, and it could possibly be the reason why he ends up married and not “most notoriously abused” like Malvolio or desolate and embarrassed like Sir Andrew (V. i. 402).

With all of the scrubs surrounding her, Olivia accidentally marries Sebastian, a guy who is just super confused about the sheer number of scrubs in Illyria. Sebastian has a number of non-scrub-like interactions with Antonio, expressing his gratitude for Antonio’s kindness and helpfulness, though most likely not in the way Antonio wanted. At the end of the day, Sebastian is just a confused puppy who was attacked by a total stranger and then, in turn, married another total stranger only to live, hopefully, happily ever after. Luckily for Olivia, the random person she accidentally married seems to be the least scrub-like character in the entire play, signifying that Olivia truly does not “want no scrubs.”

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