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Investigate the importance of "madness" as a theme in Twelfth Night

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Investigate the importance of "madness" as a theme in Twelfth Night. Madness is a very important theme that is present in the whole course of the play Twelfth Night. Firstly, we have Malvolio almost turning mad because of the cruel joke the other servants play on him. They make him think he is mad and they also make Olivia think he is mad because of the funny way in which he is acting. There is also the theme of mad love. Some examples of this are Orsino being madly in love with Olivia, Olivia being madly in love with Cesario/Viola and Viola falling madly in love with Orsino. This mad love makes Orsino mad from "a savage jealousy" when he realises Olivia's love for Cesario/Viola. Another very important aspect of madness present in the play is confusion and chaos which lead to madness. A very good example of this is everyone mistaking Sebastian for Viola and viceversa which creates very confusing situations for the characters. ...read more.


Love and loving madly are quite important in Twelfth Night. The audience can see various examples of being madly in love throughout the play. Orsino's "unconditional" love for Olivia is one of them. He claims to have his "desires like fell and cruel hounds" pursue him ever since he first saw her. He sends Cesario to "unfold the passion of [his] love" and "surprise her with discourse of [his] dear faith". However, his love turns into "a savage jealousy" and mad anger and reaches a point where he says "I'll sacrifice the lamb that I do love, to spite a raven's heart within a dove" as he realises Olivia is in love with Cesario/Viola. This is another example of being madly in love. Olivia falls desperately in love with Cesario/Viola reaching a point where she declares "nor wit nor reason can my passion hide" which is quite an expression of mad love and even admits it is "a most extraordinary frenzy". ...read more.


How am I beguiled!"). There is also much confusion when Sir Andrew and Sir Toby fight Sebastian thinking he is Cesario/Viola. Sir Andrew accuses Viola of breaking his head but she says "I never hurt you" and the situation becomes even more confusing when Sebastian enters and everyone sees "one face, one voice, one habit, and two persons- a natural perspective, that is and is not!" Feste also creates much confusion when he acts as a "corrupter of words" specially when he pretends to be a priest - Sir Topas - and confuses Malvolio almost to the point of madness when he talks about "windows transparent as barricadoes" and clerestories "as lustrous as ebony" which of course makes no sense at all. He also plays with words to laugh at other people's actions such as Olivia mourning for her "brother's soul being in heaven" which makes them seem mad. Madness is a very important theme in Twelfth Night as it is constantly present in the characters' feelings (anger, jealousy, love), in confusing situations which are vital to the play and in making other characters seem mad. By: Alejandra Garrido ...read more.

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