• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss the ways in which Shakespeare explores the theme of love throughout 'Twelfth Night'.

Extracts from this document...


Priya Pillai Discuss the ways in which Shakespeare explores the theme of love throughout 'Twelfth Night' In the play 'Twelfth Night' Shakespeare explores and illustrates the emotion of love with precise detail. Throughout the play Shakespeare examines three different types of love, which are, true love, self-love and platonic love. 'Twelfth Night' is a romantic comedy, and romantic love is the play's main theme. In order to comply with the comical genre, Shakespeare uses dramatic irony to entertain the audience. The play consists of many love triangles, however many of the characters that are tangled up in the web of love are blind to see that their emotions and feelings towards other characters are untrue. They are consequently deceiving themselves and others around them. Count Orsino opens the play with a speech beginning; 'If music be the food of love, play on, Give me excess of it, that surfeiting, That appetite may sicken, and so die.' The first part of his speech introduces the theme of love and is a metaphorical relation of music and love; Orsino relates music to love and over indulgence in music to over-eating, wishing that listening to too much music would kill his desire for love. ...read more.


Her intentions of grieving are unrealistic and she instantly faces difficulties, as her mental emotions don't allow her to carry out the physical act of mourning. Her impulses also attract her to Cesario, who 'pity's' her. Her passionate desperation causes her to consider Cesario's pity as a 'degree to love.' The audience is aware of the dramatic irony of the situation. Olivia's is prepared to marry below her social status, and displays the zealous attitude she has. Viola's love however is true, selfless and deep. She displays honesty, loyalty and integrity towards Orsino even though she is aware that he has feelings for Olivia. 'Make me a willow cabin at your gate And call upon my soul within the house, Write loyal cantons of contemned love And sing them loud even in the dead of night.' Even when realising Olivia is in love with Cesario she remains empathetic towards her rather than consideration for her own position. 'Poor lady, she were better love a dream' Viola's faithfulness towards Orsino is constant throughout. She carries out the duties of charming Olivia for him; ironically it is Cesario Olivia falls for instead. Her loyalty displays the unconditional love she has for Orsino. ...read more.


As she is the character that actually feels unconditional love, it could be Shakespeare's attempt to show that it does have its rewards. She is also the character with the most positive outlook and has faith in the power of love. She pleads 'O time, thou must untangle this, not I, it is too hard a knot for me t'untie.' This in a way shows her belief in time and in good. Viola is aware that her lies has created a web of lies and should be resolved. Her prediction proved accurate, as all the main characters find love. In other aspects Shakespeare knows that Orsino and Olivia shouldn't be punished for their perspective on love but shows that they won't achieve what they always set out to. Therefore, Orsino wouldn't be with Olivia neither would Olivia have Cesario. The play's characters also explore a tabooed subject within society. Although Shakespeare hasn't written in a profoundly obvious manner, it does appear to the audience that there is an underlying theme of homosexuality. This is displayed in the relationship between characters of the same gender. Orsino's fondness towards Cesario does display platonic love, which later evolves into marriage with Cesario's alter ego Viola. The romantic attraction that Olivia feels towards Cesario also emphasises the idea of homosexuality, as Cesario is simply a disguise for Viola, who too is a woman. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Twelfth Night section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Twelfth Night essays

  1. Discuss the different types of love presented in Twelfth Night

    all this to season/ A brother's dead love, which she would keep fresh/ And lasting, in her sad remembrance.". We can see that that this speech on what Olivia does is exaggerated, as she wants the whole world to know that she is mourning for her dead brother.

  2. How does Shakespeare explore the theme of deception and self-deception in Twelfth Night?

    herself, she is still lying as she is still seen as 'Caesario' and in such a way she is also showing an act of self-deception here. Orsino is the first character introduced to the play. He is the Duke of Illyria and therefore the most powerful character implemented into Shakespeare's play.

  1. Twelfth Night is a feminist play. Discuss.

    it implies that Viola's love towards Orsino, is true, and has depth, and other-centred. This is in comparison to Orsino's love towards Olivia, displayed in his portrayal of love towards her. This can be seen from, "With adorations, fertile tears/With groans that thunder love, with sighs of fire" and, "If

  2. How Does Shakespeare Present Aspects of Folly in Twelfth Night

    Olivia actually falls in love with her and not surprisingly feels humiliated and foolish when she discovers that Caesario is actually a woman. Olivia does look foolish although no-one can mock her due to her high status and most people look up to her with respect.

  1. Consider Shakespeare's presentation of Orsino and Olivia in Twelfth Night and consider how they ...

    From the moment we are introduced to Orsino, he is unhappy and lovesick. With the words, Orsino: Give me excess of it that, surfeiting, the appetite may sicken and so die. Shakespeare is trying to indicate to the reader that he perceives love as unwanted and unavoidable.

  2. How does Shakespeare present the theme of love in Act 1, Scene 5 and ...

    and that the best way is to be yourself and to show your emotions. In the next few lines Olivia pretends that Viola/Cesario has left a ring behind and tells Malvolio to give him back his ring "Run after that some peevish messenger, the county's man.

  1. Twelfth night - Analyse the different types of love introduced by Shakespeare in act ...

    only one way out, but that is to jeopardize her chances with Orsino as she realises what would happen due to her identity crisis as she takes on two roles. It is amazing that Olivia could fall for a woman dressed as a man, but because Viola/Cesario knew what women

  2. Twelfth Night, the themes of mistaken identities, disguise, true love and self-indulging love.

    Shakespeare's characterisation is used by choosing Malvolio as the character to mock since he is targeted as the selfish, ambitious antagonist in the play.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work