The ways in which Shakespeare portrays the themes of love in Twelfth Night
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The ways in which Shakespeare portrays the themes of love in Twelfth Night Twelfth Night is a comedy set in 'Illyria,' a Mediterranean country. However, amongst the well-timed comical scenes, Shakespeare has other emotional predicaments intertwined with a variety of characters. Such predicaments are due to misleading identities and different love themes throughout the play; including love between grieving siblings, and the counts and countess' of Illyria. The main plot of the Twelfth Night revolves round the three main characters, Viola, Orsino and Olivia who speak in rhyming couplets. Each of the main characters form a 'love triangle' which expresses the main love themes in the play including Elizabethan courtly love, real selfless love and overwhelming love. The love between each character that form the love triangle is such that the love and affection is directed one way around the triangle; Viola loves Orsino who believes he loves Olivia who also impetuously believes she loves Viola. Outside the love triangle are the minor characters who speak in pros and show a further variety of different love themes but expressed in a light-heartened manner. These include self love and love based on a mutual agreement. All the characters in the play are all connected through different love themes.
Once Sebastian enters the play he is mistaken for Viola which further shows evidence that both Sebastian and Olivia have impulsive emotions as Olivia still accepts she loves Sebastian although he is not Viola and Sebastian falls immediately falls in love with Olivia, which may be seen as blind love. Olivia's impulsive nature is not just expressed with her love for both Viola and Sebastian but also when she announces her seven-year morning for her brother. The audience sympathises with Olivia's painful rejection by Viola, and her difficulty to tell Viola her true feelings. It is also clear of Olivia's unfamiliarity with rejection as she desperately tells Viola she may change her feelings for Orsino if Viola returns. "I love thee so that, maugre all thy pride..." Love between siblings is also apparent in the play. Once Viola is rescued from drowning she immediately feels she has lost her brother, Sebastian. Her impulsive manner towards the sea captain, shows the strong bond her and her brother have. Shakespeare uses a dreamy, pensive quality when describing Viola's distress for her loss, and for her new independence and helplessness, which the audience can try and relate to. "For saying so, there's gold."
He is described as having self-love by Olivia, which again allows him to so easily believe the letter is genuinely from Olivia although it instructs him to wear "yellow stockings" and "cross-gartered." The letter refers to four letters "M, O, A, I" which Malvolio instinctively believes are reference to his name. "... in yellow stockings, and cross-gartered..." "O, you are sick of self-love, Malvolio..." "... and perchance wind up my watch, or play with my - some rich jewel. Toby approaches; courtesies there to me-" Sir Andrew has the audience's pity and sympathy throughout the play due to his naive and innocent nature. Sir Andrew is encouraged by Sir Toby to be optimistic about Olivia's feelings towards him. Sir Andrew's hopeless love for Olivia is futile and at the end of the play he is still alone, which Shakespeare has used to further enhance the sympathetic attitude of the audience. "I was adored once too." Shakespeare interconnects all the minor and major characters through misleading identities and a variety of love themes, which I have tried to outline. The major characters speak in rhyming couplets whereas the minor characters speak in pros, making a clear distinction between the two types of characters as well as the different range of love themes expressed by the different characters. "I music be the food of love, play on..." "Come, sir, you peevishly threw it to her..." Nicholas Remington
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