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

How does Shakespeare explore the theme of love in Twelfth Night(TM)?

Extracts from this document...


How does Shakespeare explore the theme of love in 'Twelfth Night'? Despite the genre of the play, and the supposedly happy ending, Shakespeare is quite ambiguous with his thoughts on the subjects of love and infatuation. Love is generally represented as something that is irresistible, spontaneous and overpowering. It is portrayed as being dangerous and something that can destroy a person, and is very difficult to get rid of. Shakespeare compares it to disease and suffering, and shows that it can cause pain. Orsino describes love dolefully as an 'appetite' that he needs to satisfy, but is unable to and Olivia more bluntly describes it as a 'plague'. Even Viola who is less melodramatic sighs that 'My state is desperate for my master's love'. Because those who suffer from it are consumed by it and become desperate, they resort to violence to secure the love of another. For example, Sir Andrew challenges Viola to fight to the death for Olivia's hand, and Orsino threatens to kill Viola, the subject of Olivia's affections, in order to keep her for himself, 'But this your minion, whom I know you love, And whom, by heaven I swear, I tender dearly, Him will I tear out of that cruel eye, Where he sits crowned in his master's spite.' ...read more.


Shakespeare shows us that romantic love is important as it incorporates the main constitution of love and attraction. Shakespeare uses the characters of Antonio and Sebastian, and Orsino and Cesario to depict platonic love. Platonic love is very similar to family love, except the characters are not related. This means that they are extremely close out of choice, and we are shown this through their friendship. Platonic love between two characters is when they have a very close affectionate relationship, but are not attracted to each other, 'For his love did I expose myself, pure for his love, into the danger of this adverse town'. Different directors have interpreted this love differently and demonstrate this through Sebastian and Antonio's relationship. In some productions they are simply very close friends, however in others, Antonio's feelings for Sebastian are much stronger. In one particular production, that I have seen, which was directed by Neil Bartlett, the relationship between these two characters was clearly shown to be more than that of two close friends. This particular director also emphasised the way that an Elizabethan audience would have viewed the play, by exaggerating the cross-dressing. He had many of the male parts being performed by female actors, and many of the female parts being played by male actors. ...read more.


This allows us to judge them and make informed decisions throughout the play at times when we have more information than the character. Dramatic irony can also make a situation humorous, for example when Olivia is chasing after Cesario, is constantly being rejected, but is persistent none the less, 'Viola : I pity you, Olivia: That's a degree to love'; we know that Cesario is really Viola and that Olivia should just give up. Another technique that Shakespeare uses is word play. He takes everyday words, and changes them so that they refer to love as well as the intended meaning. For example, in the first scene, Curio asks Orsino if he will hunt 'the hart'. Curio meant a male deer, but we interpret it to mean a heart. Orsino then extends this and compares himself to the hart. We judge the characters by the type of language that they use. Certain characters such as Orsino and Olivia speak in iambic pentameter, or blank verse; this is because they are important characters and we assume that what they have to say is more significant than the less important characters such as Sir Andrew and Sir Toby. Shakespeare uses several different methods to explore the theme of love in 'Twelfth Night' but the most important one is through his characters. He turns each idea into a character and the drama and relationships between them help us to understand his thoughts. ?? ?? ?? ?? Meghan Roberts ...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. Discuss the different types of love presented in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

    Olivia has vowed to mourn her dead brother and to avoid men for seven years. Yet she has already begun to respond in a very 'positive' way to Cesario because of his-her liveliness. In lines 191 Olivia unveils her face to Cesario.

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

    The most noticeable character with this trait is Malvolio. We begin to see this as soon as we first meet him, in Olivia's house when Feste returns from being absent without leave. Feste proves Olivia to be a fool, and for this Olivia forgives him, but Malvolio's sour attitude becomes

  1. The Theme of Love in Twelfth Night

    Viola decides to disguise herself as a young man named Cesario and serve Duke Orsino. The captain agrees to help her with this. Although Viola and the captain's friendship is not mentioned often in the play, we realise it is strong as they survived the shipwreck together and the captain

  2. Explore the ways that Shakespeare shows different types of love in Twelfth Night.(TM)

    He soon begins to fall out of love with her as he hears that Olivia is married to Cesario. He decides that 'henceforth' they should 'never meet' again. (V.i.l.165) As his feelings for Olivia fade he begins to fall in love with Viola.

  1. How far do you agree with the view that Twelfth Night is a comedy ...

    He is anything but evil; he is a foolish character of the play. He is manipulated by Sir Toby into pursuing Lady Olivia since this will maintain Sir Toby's drinking lifestyle since Sir Andrew is very rich earning some "three thousand ducats a year" meaning the unintelligent Sir Andrew is greatly valued by Sir Toby.

  2. What are the contrasted attitudes to love in Twelfth Night and how are they ...

    and require 'a kind of wit' and then she compliments his style of 'foolery', with lines 65-67. In those lines, she explains that Feste gets to know people's social status and picks a right moment to strike but not like an inexperienced fool ('Not, like the haggard')

  1. Discuss the theme of appearance and reality in Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night'.

    knew of Viola's trickery and this was the captain of the ship. He had saved her life and he had also helped her to work for the duke of Illyria, Orsino. An example of when Orsino didn't recognise Cesario as being Viola is when Cesario was returning to the duke's court and telling him that Olivia didn't love him.

  2. English Coursework Essay: Views on love from Twelfth Night

    Orsino, when talking about Olivia, showed us that he didn't seem to care very much about her, but talked about her beauty a lot and then talked in general about women's beauty and its importance, which means her physical attraction was a large part of the reason he was so infatuated with her, especially as he barely knew her.

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