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An exploration of the different types of love in Shakespeare’s “Twelfth night”. What does Shakespeare convey about the nature and variety of love in this play?

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An exploration of the different types of love in Shakespeare's "Twelfth night". What does Shakespeare convey about the nature and variety of love in this play? Shakespeare explores a great variety of themes in this play, the main one being love and its many different natures. The aim of this essay is to examine the text to discover ways in which Shakespeare portrays love using characterisation and style. Orsino is the first character to speak in "Twelfth night"; his first words are "if music be the food of love play on". The main part of his speech describing his love for Olivia is consists of refined and eloquent language, which seems to be used to impress rather than to express his feelings, he also talks more of love its self than Olivia which makes you doubtful of his sincerity: "O spirit of love, how quick and fresh thou art" "Love thoughts lie rich when canopied with bowers" He also thinks himself to be "as all true lovers are" in that the love he feels for Olivia is so intense that it is painful: "And my desires like fell and cruel hounds, E'er since pursue ...read more.


It also appears as if she almost feels obliged to morn him in this way, to keep his memory fresh; "A brother's dead love, which she would keep fresh And lasting, in her sad remembrance." This suggests that the grief is in some way an act to attract respect and attention. The language used by Valentine to describe her, in that it is eloquent and ends in a rhyming couplet, echoes this. Viola is also shown as a true lover in her love for Orsino. She is willing to sacrifice her own happiness for his and attempts to woe Olivia for him. Any other character would have tried to sway Olivia against him for selfish reasons. "My lord and master love you. O such love Could be but recompensed, though you were crowned The nonpareil of beauty" The way in which she speaks to Olivia also reveals her true love, in that she describes how she would woe Olivia were she in Orsino's place. It expresses the way she feels about Orsino and proves her to be self-sacrificing because she will not tell him, and will try and win Olivia. ...read more.


He is depicted as similar to Orsino in that he is an unrequited lover with little chance of attaining his desire. His love seems even less genuine as there is very little mention of his feelings for Olivia or even of him seeking her love. Olivia then enters the play and mentions love almost immediately when declaring to Malvolio that he is "sick of self love". The self-love Olivia mentioned is shown as another kind of love and also as a means to insert comedy into the play. Because Malvolio is so proud he is gulled by Maria's trick and thus follows humorous circumstances. Olivia seems to be as inconstant a lover as Orsino in that she immediately comes out of mourning when Viola attempts to woo her. She also transfers her affections from Olivia to her brother without realising that they are not the same person. Antonio is similar to viola in his love for Sebastian. He is devoted to him and would do anything for him with out looking for recompense, for example he gives him his purse in case he wishes to buy a trinket or toy. In conclusion I feel that Shakespeare depicts the multiple natures of love very successfully through out the play and shows strong contrasts between them. ...read more.

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