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

Consider the ways in which love, obsession and disguise inform our understanding of the characters actions in Act 1 Scene 1, Act 1 Scene 5, and Act 2 Scene 5 in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

Extracts from this document...


Consider the ways in which love, obsession and disguise inform our understanding of the characters actions in Act 1 Scene 1, Act 1 Scene 5, and Act 2 Scene 5 in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Love, obsession and disguise all play key roles in the actions of the main characters featured in Twelfth Night. Orsino is obsessed Olivia and with the idea of being in love, but this does not bring him happiness, but makes him melancholic. We see he is also quite a wise character as well at times, when he is giving advice to Viola. . "Then let thy love be younger than thyself, or thy affection cannot hold the bent: For woman are as roses, whose fair flower being once displayed doth fall that very hour." He is a changeable character as we see from his opening speech, where his mood, which reflects his feelings about love, quickly changes. He also talks much about love but does very little. Viola is affected by love and disguise throughout the play, from the point when she decides to disguise herself as a man. The first example of love we see is one for her brother Sebastian. We see that she is a practical and resourceful character when she says "Conceal me what I am ... I'll serve this duke". She falls in love with Orsino yet continues to woo Olivia for him whilst showing him to have self knowledge and understand love properly. Olivia is also affected by love and obsession throughout the play. To the same degree, she is an obsessive character, as we hear from Valentine that "The element itself, till seven years hence, / shall not behold her face at ample view" and her obsession for Viola. We can understand both these obsessions with the idea of love, that is, a love for her brother and father, and a love for Viola. ...read more.


I think that Shakespeare is trying to imply that love is so close to madness that Orsino or Viola could easily become insane where one lover becomes a killer and the other a sacrificed lamb. Act 1 Scene 5 is used largely also exposition and exploration of the relationship between Olivia and Viola who is in disguise as a man. As it sets up the next scene when Viola and Olivia meet. We also see that Olivia and Viola both speak in verse as this makes them high class and noble. We see that Olivia's obsession for mourning for seven years is shown to be a waste of time by feste who says to Olivia "The more fool, Madonna, to mourn for your brother's soul, being in heaven." Later on in the scene Olivia realises that what feste has told her is right. So she breaks her vows to not love anybody. Viola arrives and after being questioned from Olivia she tells her that "Above my fortunes, yet my state is well: I am a gentleman." Since Olivia says afterwards to herself and the audience that "Even so quickly can one catch the plague?" it tells us that she is in love with Cesario because she is using "the plague" as a metaphor for love. We also see from this that she couldn't love Cesario if he wasn't a gentleman. This shows us that class plays an important role in who she can love. Olivia disguises her real feelings for Cesario, as she tells Malvolio that he was a "peevish messenger" and doesn't say to him, that she has fallen in love. This is self deception. She also brings Cesario back under false pretences. But as Viola knows the concept of love, she quickly realises that Olivia has fallen in love with her. We know this because she says in a speech "She loves me," Before Orsino and Olivia under stand love they use images of disease, illness, or death to describe love. ...read more.


This shows that because Malvolio is the only person who hasn't got self knowledge, so is excluded from the general happiness that the other characters have. It seems like Olivia is the only person who seems to care about Malvolio when she says "He hath been most notoriously abused." This is because Olivia is a compassionate woman and has been taught this by Viola. It seems as though obsession, self love, disguise, and not having self knowledge seem to be incompatible with love. Because Orsino had obsession, and didn't have self knowledge so couldn't love Viola. Olivia had obsession, disguise, self deception, and not having self knowledge stand in the way of loving Cesario or Sebastian. And Viola had disguise which got in the way of her loving Orsino. At the end of the play, Orsino isn't obsessed with being in love any more, and has self knowledge and love and so marries Viola. Olivia isn't self deceitful anymore, doesn't disguise her feelings, knows how to love and has self knowledge so marries Sebastian. And Viola has got rid of her disguise so marries Orsino. Malvolio is the only person who didn't learn anything because he began with self love, self obsession, disguising his feelings, and not having self knowledge and stayed that way. Apart from feste he was the only character who didn't get married. And he is the only character who wasn't happy at the end and wanted revenge. I think Shakespeare wrote this play to show us that in order to love, you have to be open and free of obsession and disguise. I think he did this by using Viola as the character that has self knowledge and to teach this to the characters Orsino and Olivia. Shakespeare used this to show the audience that if you are free of obsession and disguise and have self knowledge and know the concept of love, you will be happy, but if you don't then you could turn out to be like Malvolio; bitter and sour. Phillip Taffley 4E 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE 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 GCSE Twelfth Night essays

  1. Twelfth Night has been described as a play of contrast-light and darkness; humour and ...

    In addition Feste is comparable to the song, because the song is not a happy song, so Feste is not a happy man. Since Shakespeare's play is set in Illyria, an imaginary world, it also means the happy endings are imaginary.

  2. Discuss the similarities and differences between Olivia and Viola in "Twelfth Night".

    So, although it could be argued that Viola and Olivia are similar in that they both adopt a form of disguise, the fact that Olivia, in her melancholy mood, makes and breaks this vow, which, since it seems to mean little to her, has no real purpose, whereas Viola disguises

  1. Describe the different forms of disguise and deception in Twelfth Night

    chance with Olivia, "and of a foolish knight that you brought in one night here to be her wooer" ActI ScIII), in fact Sir Toby is aimed at Sir Andrew's money, "he has three thousand ducats a year" (ActI ScIII).

  2. Discuss the different types of love presented in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

    Act 3, scene 4 is full of Malvolio's self love as he shows himself to Olivia thinking that Olivia is in love with him. Malvolio thinks Olivia is being sexual with him when she uses the word 'bed', which she really means to say is that he is crazy.

  1. What Types of love does Shakespeare explore in Twelfth Night?

    A part of the letter reads: 'I may command where I adore' , indicating that she loves one of her staff, 'I may command where I adore, But silence, like a Lucrece knife, With bloodless stroke my heart doth gore; M.O.A.I.

  2. What is the function of disguise in Twelfth Night ?

    Of course the letter was not from Olivia, who does not love Malvolio and detests cross gartered yellow stockings,but from the maid, who could imitate well her lady's hand. Marvolio then follows the advice in the letter, much to the pranksters delight, and adorns the yellow stockings and takes on a personality not befitting of his past self.

  1. What impressions have you formed of Olivia? Show some of the ways in ...

    I believe she is preoccupied with death; perhaps she likes the idea of mourning, much as Orsino likes the idea of being in love, instead of actually loving Olivia. She also shows herself to be as changeable as Orsino when Cesario comes again with another message from the Duke and talks to her in her garden.

  2. Twelfth Night - How does Act 1 prepare the Elizabethan audience for the rest ...

    If Viola isn't a 'boy'. Orsino won't employ him as a servant to send message to Olivia. Olivia would not have fallen in love with Cesario. Viola wouldn't work in Orsino's Court; she wouldn't meet her twin brother, Sebastian In the court. If Viola hasn't disguised herself as a boy, there won't be so many misunderstandings at the end of the play.

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