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'Explore the ways in which Shakespeare presents the theme of love throughout the Twelfth Night'.

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

'Explore the ways in which Shakespeare presents the theme of love throughout the Twelfth Night' 'Twelfth Night' is one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies. While there are many aspects to the play, they all revolve around the theme of love. The idea of love appears throughout and helps create an atmosphere of mystery and confusion. The dramatic irony directly links to the main theme and is entertaining to the audience. The play features a love triangle between the three main characters, this triangle evolves and the relationships grow. This also adds to the entertainment value and exhibits Shakespeare's stagecraft. The play opens with Count Orsino's over zealous approach to love; 'If music be the food of love, play on' This dramatic link between love and music highlights passion and infatuation. Orsino's version of love is very powerful and he compares it to the power of music. Shakespeare uses a character that makes these exaggerated comparisons and uses hyperbole in order to underline his assumptions about love and how easily it can be confused with other emotions. Orsino appears very moody in the opening scene and this characteristic features throughout. His mood is volatile and changes frequently; 'Stealing and giving odour. Enough; no more' This fickleness shows Orsino's inconsistency and it is used to mirror the "insanity" often associated with love.

Middle

There are many different versions of love in the play and the most comic of these is Sir Toby and Maria. They provide an amusing sub plot to the more dramatic play. The dialogue between the two suggests that Maria will have a positive influence on Sir Toby and perhaps calm his nature. The couple are a suitable paring and they offer a light-hearted view on love and relationships. Malvolio is Olivia's steward and his own ideas towards relationships are much more controversial. He is lead to believe, by Maria, Sir Toby, Feste, Fabian and Sir Andrew that Olivia has fallen in love with him. They use love as a weapon to revenge themselves on him in order to teach him a valuable lesson about arrogance. Malvolio exhibits signs of self-love and self-importance. He is only interested in the conquest and status he would gain, Olivia points out; 'O, you are sick of self-love' He portrays vanity and is utterly selfish; Shakespeare uses Malvolio to explore the idea of one-sided love that is purely for gain. Malvolio also appears to have a very disdainful view of love and this is displayed when he throws the ring Olivia has asked him to give to Cesario on the ground and walks off. He is only concerned with things that will benefit him.

Conclusion

The play presents many different versions of love from platonic feelings such as Sebastian and Viola to the lovesick feelings similar to Romeo's in 'Romeo and Juliet' that Orsino displays. Like Orsino, Romeo was a character who the audience would feel needed to mature and be more realistic in feelings and language. These totally opposite versions are surveyed and the audience are produced with an array of varied emotions that are heavily connected to love. Personally, I found the play to be incredibly appealing and engaging. The storyline is both humorous and sad, with the comical elements outweighing the more gloomy ones. The play stirs many emotions and immerses the audience in the plot I found myself being drawn to the compassion of specific characters and the emotive language worked well. The play is enjoyable, amusing and cleverly crafted. The plot of the play surrounds the misreading of the characters actions. The difference between appearance and reality is repeatedly shown throughout the behaviour and conduct of the characters. The disguises people use to hide the truth lead to the confusion and mystery the play operates under, creating yet another version of love. This suggests we are possibly extensions of our own emotions and we generate these varied forms of love that have been adapted from one basic type. Shakespeare presents these ideas shrewdly concealed in the framework of the entertaining and humorous play. By Kira Agass 1

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