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The Theme of Love in Twelfth Night

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The Theme of Love in Twelfth Night In Twelfth Night, Shakespeare focuses strongly on the theme of love; romantic love, friendship, brotherly and sisterly love, unrealistic love and self-love. In this essay I am going to explore these aspects and write about the different sides of love in the play, such as humour and suffering. We find that in Twelfth Night love is a very complicated thing and confusion often occurs. At the beginning of the play we find Orsino talking dramatically of his love for Olivia but actually seems to be in love with the idea of love itself. This shows that his feelings are not actually true and that he is very self-indulgent. He uses exaggerated language whilst lying in rose beds, listening to music and talking constantly to his servants of Olivia's beauty. He also compares his love to food and in this quote he is saying how he hopes his appetite will simmer when it all gets too much and he can no longer handle it. Orsino says, 'If music be the food of love, play on; give me excess of it, that surfeiting, the appetite may sicken and so die.' (I.i.1-3). Orsino seems to be rather in love with himself and assumes that Olivia will return his feelings for her. ...read more.


There is now a love triangle in the play. Viola loves Orsino who loves Olivia who loves Viola as Cesario. Olivia says, 'Cesario, by the roses of the spring, by maid-hood, honour, truth and everything, I love thee so.' (III.i.134-136). At the end of the play Olivia marries Sebastian, Viola's twin brother, thinking he is Cesario. This shows that Olivia really doesn't know Cesario all that well and can't really love him. Malvolio is a very proud character. He is extremely arrogant and thinks very highly of himself. Even though he is mocked quite a lot during the play, he still believes that everybody loves him. Maria as a joke, writes a letter to him pretending to be Olivia, telling him how much she loves him. Malvolio is now convinced that Olivia is in love with him and fantasises deeply of what it would be like to marry her and to be master of the house and have control over everything. This shows that he isn't really in love with her, he just wants to look good and to be powerful, which is typical of his personality. When he sees Olivia after receiving this letter, he quotes lines from the letter to her and behaves very strangely. Malvolio says, 'Sweet lady, ho ho!' ...read more.


This shows how close the two became and Antonio did anything to protect him and also trusted Sebastian with his purse. Antonio uses strong, passionate words for Sebastian such as 'jealousy' and 'desire' suggesting that he feels a large attraction towards him. Antonio says to Sebastian, 'I could not stay behind you. My desire, more sharp than filed steel, did spur me forth' (III.iii.4-5). He is saying that he cannot stay behind as he is so close to Sebastian. There is a lot of confusion and swapping of feelings in Twelfth Night. I feel that the only true love is Viola's love for Orsino as this is the only man she loves during the whole play and is the one she ends up marrying. I think Olivia seems to fall in love too easily as she thinks she can have any man. Also, Maria and Sir Toby seem to marry just for the sake of it as they are close and have no one else to really be with. Feste remains self-contained and is not driven by love or ever gets distressed by it. In Twelfth Night, Shakespeare explores love with great detail and explains it extremely well. I think that his thoughts on love and the way in which he writes about all the tangles and confusion give a lot of interest to the play making it a great play to read and also act out. ...read more.

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