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How do characters respond to love in Twelfth Night?

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How do characters respond to love in Twelfth Night? This essay aims to explore how characters refer to, and react to, love in Twelfth Night. At the beginning of Twelfth Night, Orsino is quite a traditional man in his beliefs of love and courtship. This is illustrated in phrases like "Let the woman take an elder than herself." His idea of love is that of courtly love, where he places the object of his desire, Olivia, on a pedestal and worships her like a goddess out of reach. In short, my opinion is that he is in love with the idea of love and he has made himself unhappy because his "love" for Olivia is not being returned. "That instance was I turned into a hart, and my desires, like fell and cruel hounds, e'er since pursue me." Orsino's love is an unreality. He believes that he is the one true authority on love. ...read more.


I find that one of Viola's qualities in her character is to be very giving. She continuously obeys Orsino's orders to charm Olivia as Cesario, even though if her efforts succeeded it would mean that she could never marry Orsino. Viola speaks of love with real feeling and emotion, speaking from the heart, and this seems to make her own love very much more genuine. I admire Viola for the way she does not show any jealousy in front of Olivia, even though the man she loves is in love with her. Because her love is hidden throughout the play, and she is so patient, the viewers are given a sense of warmness towards Viola, a feeling of wanting her to succeed. I think that Viola's love is the most real out of all the characters in the play. She is full of love for the right reasons; she doesn't look for the flaws in people and is not attracted to Orsino for his status or money. ...read more.


At this quotation, we bear in mind that getting sick, and getting better again, can be a very quick process. So, Olivia's love could also be a quick thing, as she does not know anything about the person she 'loves'. Another example of Olivia's careless, speedy passion is how she mistakes Sebastian for Cesario, and marries him. It shows how superficial she is and because she is obsessed with looks, how she mistakes very different people to be the same, even though one is a woman. When she sees both Viola dressed as Cesario and Sebastian facing one another, she exclaims "most wonderful," as she is seeing two very attractive men. These three characters each give a very different outlook on the concept of love. In this essay I have explored an example of self imagined love in the form of Orsino's passion towards Lady Olivia, real, honest love from Viola towards Orsino, and wild, misplaced love from Olivia to Viola/Cesario. These are the main loves of the play, and form a nice little love-triangle. 1 ...read more.

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