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How is Romantic love presented in Twelfth Night?

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How is Romantic love presented in Twelfth Night? 26/11/2009 Michael Needham In Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night', the story is entirely about the search for love and lost friends. There is so much 'false' love which emphasises the power of true love. We instantly recognise the shallowness of the love in the following characters; all of them are easily tricked. Therefore, the idea of self-love is seen as absurd. Duke Orsino is clearly only in love with the idea of love itself and views Olivia as merely the object of his foolish love. Sir Andrew is so full of self-pity that it is almost impossible for him to love Olivia. Because Malvolio is blinded by his own self love, his apparent "love" for Olivia is presented as utter idiocy. Olivia is sparked by pride while searching for love. Even the love between Sir Toby and Maria is self-seeking Shakespeare contrasts this with the idea of true love. True love is presented to be magnificent to the status of heroism, in the characters of Antonio, who sacrifices his life to save Sebastian, and Viola, who selflessly loves Duke Orsino. ...read more.


The above quote sums up Twelfth Night's idea of love and this is reiterated throughout the play. Love is presented as a fleeting and fanciful ideal with many of the characters showing this in their actions and speech. Source = Enotes.com A good example of the way romantic love is depicted in Twelfth Night is in this scene. Viola, still disguised as Cesario, has a discussion with Orsino about Orsino's supposedly undying love for Olivia, and for that matter the nature of love in itself and all of its differences and 'befuddlement'. Viola listens to Orsino talk of his difficulties to his young, unwise servant; then Viola interrupts Orsino's 'melodramatic' cries for sympathy with secretly concealed meanings of how Cesario has a sister who was in a similar predicament. Cesario's sister was in love, but hid her feelings to the one whom mattered (In actual fact, it is herself). Orsino, though, shows his selfish characteristics, as he is interested in what Cesario has to say for a few minutes, he quickly turns back his own longings, and this scene ends with Orsino sending Cesario to try and 'woo' Olivia for Orsino's behalf, yet again. ...read more.


and she wants to be faithful. But, Olivia is still in love, and requests that Cesario return. Cesario is a man played by a woman and Olivia falls in love with him/her. This is funny because of the dramatic irony, the audience know Cesario is a woman and it is funny to see that Olivia is attracted to a woman. Of course, to add to this gender confusion, in Shakespearian days, women were played by men. Which meant that Men playing as women would have to pretend they were really men but act as if they were women trying to be manly. This sort of gender confusion makes Twelfth Night very amusing. Overall, Viola learns that in the role of Cesario she had to be quick on her feet, and defend the probing questions and statements about her love (Orsino) and others love for her (Olivia). She also acquired the skill to bide her time, until the time was right. The story ends with marriages of Duke Orsino and Viola, Sir Toby and Maria, and Olivia and Sebastian. Shakespeare does a great job of explaining the difficult subject of love in Twelfth night. ...read more.

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