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Examine the ways in which Shakespeare uses structure and language to dramatise the comparisons between different kinds of love in Twelfth Night focusing on Act 5, Scene 1 and one or two other scenes of your choice.

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Introduction

Examine the ways in which Shakespeare uses structure and language to dramatise the comparisons between different kinds of love in Twelfth Night focusing on Act 5, Scene 1 and one or two other scenes of your choice. Twelfth Night is thought to have been written in 1601, near the middle of Shakespeare's career. The play looks at deception, disguise, illusion and probably most significantly the amazing things that love can cause us to do. Shakespeare does this successfully through clever use of language and structure. Act 1, Scene 1 of the comedy begins with a nobleman named Orsino, pining away for the love of Lady Olivia, a noble Illyrian lady. Shakespeare uses imagery to represent love: "If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting The appetite may sicken, and so die." Orsino's language contains images which recur throughout the play such as music, death, love and food while expressing his love. Orsino doesn't mention Lady Olivia until his discussion with Curio soon after, this leads us to suggest that Orsino is in love with the idea of being in love itself, therefore being selfish. Consequently the reference to food can be perceived as Orsino's hunger for love. This hunger we are told leads to sickness and pain, again the imagery of sickness symbolises Orsino's extreme feelings towards love. The idiom 'If music be the food of love, play on' has become part of British language and has become a frequently used expression. However, Olivia does not desire to be with Orsino and refuses to entertain any proposals of marriage. On the return of a message from Olivia's household, Orsino is told that Olivia has vowed to mourn for her brother for seven years. ...read more.

Middle

For the play to be a good comedy it has to show human weaknesses, Shakespeare has done this particularly in the sub plot by varying the level of compassion and self control in each character leaving their weaknesses easily identifiable. Firstly, we meet Maria, a chambermaid of Olivia, Sir Toby Belch, Olivia's uncle and his friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek, two rowdy drunkards. Sir Andrew hopelessly attempts to court Lady Olivia but to no avail, again we see representations of unrequited love and also courtly love. The conversation between Maria and Sir Toby is playful and dim-witted, despite its purpose to instruct and lecture Sir Toby, for the sake of Olivia. Sir Toby replies: "Why let her except, before excepted." The light-hearted wordplay can be seen as flirtatious as Sir Toby uses his wit to entertain and charm Maria, although not explicitly told, through Toby's tone and language usage he can be clearly seen to have feelings for her. However, puzzlingly he advises Sir Andrew Aguecheek to accost Maria. Andrew is left puzzled at the meaning of accost, the focus on wooing and courtly love is another apparent type of love. As Sir Andrew plays with the words of Maria the friendly, humorous conversation begins to include sexual references, as Maria says 'It's dry' she gains the answer: "...I can keep my hand dry." Bawdy, sexual references would have been gladly accepted by the audience in Elizabethan theatres particularly by the men, as in today's society. The use of a metaphor leaves the context in which this is meant to be decided by the audience. The flexibility of perception is also true of the relationship between the characters involved in the sub plot as they are able to communicate in different tones and about different subjects without actually announcing any true feelings they may have about one another. ...read more.

Conclusion

Antonio also does not gain anything at the end, although he may be forgiven for his past crimes. We are never told whether Sir Andrew and Sir Toby regained their friendship after Sir Toby quit Sir Andrew's company. Whereas, the Orsino and Viola had maintained their love for one another as had Olivia and Sebastian. The resolution for the two couples held true, romantic love for each of them. Orsino confirms with an optimistic statement: "Golden time... But when in other habits you are seen Orsino's mistress and his fancy's queen" This rhyming couplet shows the real happiness that Orsino has found in contrast to the selfish, melancholy lover, Orsino, until the final scene. It was usual of Shakespeare to make the formal, traditional characters speak in rhyming couplets, until now Orsino's high status had been shadowed by his sadness. Now he fills the role of the stereotypical character we would have first expected we can see his language adapts to the role. Conversely, the clown's final song suggests that the future may not be as happy as is hoped or assumed: "for the rain it raineth every day" The reference to rain suggests that the future may be stormy and not as sunny as expected. Shakespeare would have intentionally ended the play with music, the same way as the play had started. Almost certainly as an ironic message of hopeful happiness in light of Orsino's beginning expression 'if music be the food of love, play on'. Conclusively, we can see that Shakespeare used language techniques such as metaphors, similes and rhyming couplets to express different types of love. Generally those characters relating to love spoke in verse while comical characters such as Feste and the two foolish knights spoke in prose. Year 12 AS Unit 2 Shakespeare Coursework-Twelfth Night Tracey Wond ...read more.

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