Be not afraid of greatness. Some are Twelfth Night

Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Thy fates open their hands; let thy blood and spirit embrace them.

Quote Analysis

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Act II, Scene V

This quote that is taken very seriously when it is out of context, but it is actually a part of a cruel joke played with self-obsessed Malvolio by the rest of the servants. We see this phrase in the letter, written to Malvolio by, supposedly, Olivia, his employer. Of course Olivia doesn’t even know about the letter that hints that she is in love with Malvolio. This phrase tingles his pride and desire to become great. “Olivia” encourages him to not be afraid of greatness, because, though she wasn’t born great (as she did) and didn’t achieve greatness, still staying a mere servant, Malvolio can have greatness “thrust upon him”. According to the letter he shall earn his greatness by doing the ridiculous tasks that annoy his mistress more and more, making Olivia think that her servant has gone mad.

But out of the context this phrase became a great motivation outside the play. Indeed, some people are just born with wealth and status inherited from their family, but it doesn’t mean that the others should be afraid to try and become great too. There are lots of people whose greatness is hard-earned, and there are some who proved to the powerful people or organisations that their deserve improving their conditions. Think about it like inheriting a business, building it by themselves starting from garage and the bunch of friends and writing a great business plan and getting funded by some big company.