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How does Act 1, Scene 1 prepare the audience for the love theme of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night"?

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Introduction

HOW DOES ACT 1, SCENE 1 PREPARE THE AUDIENCE FOR THE LOVE THEME OF SHAKESPEARE'S "TWELFTH NIGHT"? Act 1, Scene 1 prepares the audience for the rest of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" by introducing the central theme of love which runs throughout the play. Orsino, Duke of Illyria is immediately established as one of the protagonists, and it is clear that love is all he is willing to think about. Orsino is indulging himself thinking of love, but he is preoccupied with his own reactions, and doesn't take into account those of the object of his affections, Olivia. He has declared his love for Olivia, which sets up the storyline between them. For Orsino it was love at first sight, which he explains through metaphor when one of his Lords, Curio, tries to change the subject to hunting. He explains by saying that when he first saw Olivia he was turned into a hart, and compares his desires for her to fell and cruel hounds that "E'er since pursue me". Shakespeare has taken this idea from the Greek legend of Actaeon. ...read more.

Middle

Both Olivia and Viola have been put into this situation by the death of their brothers, but they both cope with it in different ways. While Olivia becomes withdrawn, Viola, although initially devastated, immediately takes constructive action to get out in the world and take control of her own well being. She constructs a plan with the help of the Captain to become Cesario and disguise herself as a eunuch (a castrated male servant with a high pitched voice) to go to serve the Duke. Olivia becomes dependant on the only remaining men in her life, but who are also the wrong sort of men. These men are Malvolio, her head servant, her uncle Sir Toby Belch, a drunkard, and Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Sir Toby's idiotic friend who he has brought to the household as a suitor for Olivia. She is letting her servants run the household for her and Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are getting away with the heavy drinking and irresponsible behaviour that would normally have got them thrown out the house. ...read more.

Conclusion

Orsino thinks that men are fickle and that Viola/Cesario shouldn't love a woman older than herself. He says "our fancies are more giddy and unfirm, more longing, wavering sooner lost and worn, than women's are". He is saying that men are shallow, and that they will lose interest when a woman loses their looks, so men should always marry younger women. In Act 1, Scene 1, he shows how hard it is for him to keep interest, even when he is so in love it is all he can think about. The very first line of the play is "If music be the food of love, play on". Orsino wants the music to stimulate thoughts of love, he wants more. In the last line of the scene this is also shown, when he says "away before me to sweet beds of flowers: love-thoughts lie rich when canopied with bowers". He wants to maintain his heightened emotional state and he needs it to be artificially induced because eventually he will be doing it because he feels he has to, rather than because he wants to. He wants to continue in this state until "The appetite may sicken and so die". ...read more.

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