5 of Cups - Olivia

Dramatis Personae: Countess Olivia.

Text & Context: The 5 cards of the Minors indicate conflict, movement. Cups being the suit of emotions, the conflict here is internal: Olivia is mourning the recent death of both her father and brother. Into her black-draped world steps Viola, a small flower of hope, a faint joie de vivre jig. Viola is Orsino's envoy, but the Duke and Countess are too alike - they suffer the same malady. The primary difference between them is, as so often with Shakespeare, in the man we see moody inconsistency and caprice while the woman exhibits resolution and constancy. The irresistible force and the immovable object, where some outside variable is needed to facilitate change. 

 

 As their names suggest, Viola and Olivia are also alike - Viola being the vital aspect of Olivia's character, Malvolio the cankerous. Olivia is able to awaken love in herself and indeed love herself ​through the instrument Viola, in part because of Viola's underlying feminine self. Curiously, the name Shakespeare chooses for Olivia's groom is Sebastian - the same name his first cross-dressing heroine Julia from Two Gentlemen of Verona chose when disguised as a man. In Olivia's rush to marry Viola's twin brother Sebastian, one can almost imagine the holy man she inveigles, singing for the soul of her own brother in the chantry by, to be none other than her sanctioned fool Feste in his own guise of Sir Topaz.

Intertext: Staffs 4 OrsinoQueen of Staffs Viola; Crowns 2 Feste; Crowns 4 Malvolio; Cups 9 Sir Toby Belch.