The Wayward Women: Dame Anu’s Letter Soliloquy
Dame Anu’s Letter Speech is an obvious homage to Malvolio’s Letter Speech in Twelfth Night. Although it has been “streamlined,” removing any interjections from other characters, and it lacks the perennially perplexing puzzler, “M.O.A.I.,” I think Anu’s letter still offers some food for thought. Forged by Dame Grendela (a female Sir Toby by-way-of Fluellen), the letter seems perfectly structured to gull Anu into revealing a side of herself she has hidden her entire life. Grendela, then, somehow possesses unique knowledge of exactly what Anu wants in a man, and precisely how she wants Cordelius to express those attributes. She even knows how to quell Anu’s concerns for her own reputation, and feigns a willingness to cooperate in her hypocrisy without actually calling it hypocrisy. It appears that Dame Grendela knows Anu better than she does herself, or even better than Grendela knows herself (based on some reactions we see to other speeches in the play).
Twelfth Night speaks a lot about holding in our desires, especially romantic desires, and how this can warp us. Nowhere is this more strongly paralleled in The Wayward Women than with the poor. proud Dame Anu.