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How do Characters Respond to Love in the Early parts of Twelfth Night?

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How do Characters Respond to Love in the Early parts of Twelfth Night? Twelfth Night is a play all about love. Not mutual love as in the love between two lovers but love in all other shapes and forms. During the play we encounter love of a man for a woman, love of a woman for a man, love of a woman for another woman, love for a sibling, love for oneself, love for money or power, pure physical attraction and love for love itself. Almost all of the characters are involved in love in some form or another and most of their love affairs are intertwined between each other. At the start of the play all are in love with somebody but in all cases this somebody does not love them in return. Count Orsino opens the play using very elaborate language to describe his undying love for Lady Olivia. This shows the magnificent scale of his love; it seems so magnificent that it is almost unbelievable. He mostly uses metaphors to describe his love in a more beautiful way for example 'O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet sound that breathes upon a bank of violets'. ...read more.


He doesn't know that he is attracted to her as he thinks she is a man however this subtly hints at things to come. Viola herself feels a very different kind of love at the beginning of the play when she shows love for her brother who she fears is dead. This love is unquestionably very true and real and acts as a standard of true love to compare the other more complicated loves in the play to. Unlike Orsino and elaborate language this purity of love is shown through raw emotion when she says 'O my poor brother! And so perchance may he be'. Viola also falls in love with the Count Orsino when she is in her disguise. She seems touched by how he talks to her about his love for a woman, which she can only see because of her disguise, saying 'Too well what love women to men may owe. In faith, they are as true of heart as we'. She expresses her love for Orsino in act one scene four where she says ' Yet a barful strife! Whoe'er I woo, myself would be his wife'. This seems more real than Orsino's love for Olivia as it is said in much more normal language also she says this to herself rather than to a friend showing that these really are her own feelings. ...read more.


He also dreams of having power to command people as husband of Lady Olivia and her wealth and fortune. He is also very arrogant and vain to believe that it could be true that Olivia might love him. This shown when he is tricked into thinking that Olivia loves him where he says 'calling my officers about me, in my branched velvet gown, having come from a day bed where I have left Olivia sleeping'. He shows love for himself and love for money and power but for most other people such as Sir Toby he shows hatred. The only character that escapes love and its consequences in the play is Feste the fool. Throughout the play he shows signs of intelligence above his lowly status as a fool. It is possible that he represents Shakespeare himself as he is a mere on looker to most of the scenes. It may reflect Shakespeare's view of love at the fact that the one character shown to be very intelligent manages to avoid love and all the confusion that seems to come with it throughout the play. The variety of different responses to love in Twelfth Night is amazing. In the early stages of the play all that love seems to do is confuse people as it random and unrequited, shallow and blind and only causes problems. Max Jones ...read more.

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