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Consider Shakespeare's presentation of Orsino and Olivia in Twelfth Night and consider how they can be compared with other characters in the play.

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Shakespeare Essay: Twelfth Night Consider Shakespeare's presentation of Orsino and Olivia in Twelfth Night and consider how they can be compared with other characters in the play. In the play, "Twelfth Night" Olivia is a beautiful, wealthy and noble Illyrian lady who is courted by Orsino, but insists that she is in mourning for her brother, and therefore will not marry for seven years. Orsino is a powerful and rich noble man also residing in Illyria who is lovesick for Olivia. Initially, Orsino and Olivia appear to be dissimilar. However, Shakespeare purposely portrays them so that they have similar characteristics as well as their differences. They are both similar to one another, in the fact that they are both extremely persistent in trying to gain the love of their romantic obsession. Although Orsino does not try to win Olivia's love himself, he continuously sends messengers over to her court to persuade her to love him. He does this so much that Olivia expects the "young gentleman" at the gate to be a "suit from the Count" and tells Malvolio that he must do what he can to get rid of him, as she is not interested in what he has to say, Olivia: If it be a suit from the Count, I am sick, or not at home. What you will, to dismiss it. In Act II, Scene IV Viola suggests to Orsino that Oliva is not romantically interested in him as she has denied his advances before. Viola tells Orsino that he should accept her lack of interest in him, but Orsino believes that men love with more passion than women. Olivia, like Orsino is also persistent in the fact that she is trying to gain the love of her romantic obsession, Viola. Although she is a woman, disguised as a man named Cesario, Olivia is unaware of this. When Olivia says, Olivia: ...let him send no more, unless, perchance, you come to me again, she is telling Viola that she does not want to hear from Orsino unless she returns to tell her about how he takes it. ...read more.


The first time she meets Viola, she almost immediately becomes intrigued by his intelligence and quick-witted words, such as Viola: Above my fortunes, yet my state is well; I am a gentleman. Olivia begins to fall in "love" with Viola after a few pretty speeches. Shakespeare shows the reader, that Olivia has fallen in love with Viola when she sends Malvolio after Viola with a ring that she "left behind". Olivia does this, so that Viola has to return, and she can see her again. Shakespeare suggests that love should not be taken too seriously as it appears to come and go quickly. However, love in both circumstances indicates violence as Olivia describes her love as a "plague" that she suffers from. Orsino describes it as an "appetite" he wishes to satisfy but cannot and he also calls his desires as "cruel hounds". This desperation briefly results in violence in Act V, Scene I, when Orsino threatens to kill Viola, as he believes that she has used him, to become Olivia's lover. Shakespeare seems to be mocking the whole concept of romantic love which the audience can see as shallow and pretentious. At the end of the play only Malvolio, Antonio and Feste do not achieve romantic happiness. Malvolio realizes that he is in fact a fool, and unworthy of Olivia and Feste is the fool; therefore it is unusual for the fools to find love in plays. Also, Shakespeare gives us the impression that Antonio is sexually attracted to Sebastian, which would have been socially unacceptable when Twelfth Night was written, and therefore leaves him loveless. The fact that Orsino threatens to kill Viola, and then marries her in the same scene, and that Olivia marries Sebastian although she believed it was Viola, again indicates the fact that Shakespeare is telling the audience love should not be taken seriously within the play. A difference between Olivia and Orsino that Shakespeare introduces into the play is the fact that Orsino perceives love as inevitable; it is going to happen. ...read more.


Orsino and Olivia are similar in the fact that they are both remote from reality, and this makes them figures of fun. This is ironic, because Feste is called the "Fool" in 'Twelfth Night', but Shakespeare presents him as one of the wisest characters in the play. Although Orsino and Olivia are wealthy and powerful in Illyria, they have very little control over their households. Feste is used by Shakespeare at the end of the play, to bring the audience back to reality and away from the 'happy ever after', too perfect ending. Feste sings a song which is very unexpected by the audience. There is a "full circle" in the play, as it opens and ends with music. The fact that the play ends in a song, which is not how people expect it to end, indicates to us that it has no meaning, like the whole of the play. Feste's song sums up the play. He is saying, that this society of pleasure-seekers, have forgotten the wind and the rain. Feste is recounting a story of growing up to discover the harshness and unkindness of life. The lines Feste: With hey, ho, the wind and the rain Feste: For the rain it raineth everyday is repeated in each verse, and portrays a very pessimistic outlook as humans do not like the wind and the rain. Feste also says that it is all right to play with toys, when we are children and later in life, we may thrive for a little time by swaggering or crime. However, knaves and thieves are soon barred out. The last line is, Feste: And we'll strive to please you everyday This is unexpected, as it does not follow the general pattern from the previous four verses in the song. Feste is coming out of character here, and is telling the audience that the play will always be good, because nothing changes. ?? ?? ?? ?? Sophie Turner ...read more.

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