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What Types of love does Shakespeare explore in Twelfth Night?

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Tom Gowing 10A English Twelfth Night Coursework What Types of love does Shakespeare explore in Twelfth Night? From the very first line 'If music be the food of love, play on' Shakespeare tells us that Twelfth Night is going to be a play almost entirely centred around love of some description. There are numerous types of love, some that Shakespeare condones and rewards, and some that he condemns and punishes. The first, and most apparent one, is family love. This particular form of love only applies to a few characters. It's the strongest type of love we see in Twelfth Night and the strongest family bond we see is between the twins, Sebastian and Viola. It becomes apparent during the play that they've endured a great deal together. At the end of the play, when the two siblings are reunited, we learn that their father had died when they were thirteen years old. Viola says 'My father had a mole upon his brow' and 'And died that day when Viola from her birth had numbered thirteen years.' The passing of their father would certainly strengthen their love for each other, and we first see this bond when they each land on the shores of Illyria. Viola's first thoughts when she and the captain land on shore are for her brother, and she fears for his life. 'My brother... perchance he is not drowned... O my poor brother! And so perchance may he be' (saved). Similarly, as soon as Sebastian arrives on the shores of Illyria, he is almost ready to break into tears, ' I am yet so near to the manners of my mother that, upon the least occasion more, mine eyes will tell tales of me'. Like Viola, Sebastian also presumes that his twin is drowned. When he is talking to Antonio, Sebastian says: 'She is drowned already, sir, with salt water, though I seem to drown her remembrance again with more'. ...read more.


Orsino says to Viola\Cesario: 'Therefore, good youth, address thy gait unto her, Be not denied access; stand at her doors, And tell them there thy fixed foot shall grow Till though have audience... O then unfold the passion of my love, Surprise her with discourse of my dear faith.' He has a very fickle personality and likes to change his mind, like at the start when he keeps changing his mind about the music he likes. But he likes being moody and changeable; it makes him seem more dramatic. He feels he's going to be the odd one out if he doesn't have someone to love and that explains why, at the end, when everyone begins to pair up and he realises that Viola loves him, he says 'I shall have share in this most happy wreck.' He is going to secure a bride because he needs to feel as though he's not being left out. This would suggest to me that he's very insecure and unsure of himself, although he's confident enough at the end to propose to Viola. But Orsino loves the feeling of loving someone else. This isn't a selfish love, but it's quite clearly false. Probably the least obvious love is that between Feste and Olivia. It is less of a love and more of a genuine affection for each other. Feste has been absent without leave for a while and we know this because Maria cautions him as soon he arrives back in the house 'My lady will hang thee for thy absence', but Feste replies with wit, and does not seem particularly worried about what Olivia might do to him. He knows her well and knows that if he says the right things that she loves him enough to forgive him. As Olivia enters she tries to send him away, but he refuses to go. She's trying very hard to be serious at this point and keeps saying 'Take the fool away' to which Feste replies to the attendants 'Do you not hear, fellows? ...read more.


Even at the end where Orsino is about to lead her off to kill her, she follows willingly. Orsino says 'Come, boy, with me; my thoughts are ripe in Mischief. I'll sacrifice the lamb that I do love, To spite a ravens heart within a dove' To which Viola replies 'And I must jocund, apt, and willingly' Meaning she would be glad to go with him. This loyalty that Viola displays shows that she loves Orsino deeply and would do anything for him. This love is not just a one-way love though. Even though Viola has been a man throughout the duration of the play, Orsino still knows her and has still spent time with her, so its perfectly possible that Orsino returns her love. If Twelfth Night is seen as a performance on stage, it becomes apparent that Shakespeare creates his own set of conclusions in Twelfth Night. He creates almost an awards ceremony in the final act, where characters who suffered at the beginning have a happy ending, and those who where full of themselves at the start receive what they deserved. The twins, Sebastian and Viola, find partners. Maria marries the man she's loved throughout the play; Olivia mourned for her father's death, but finds a good husband in the end; Malvolio got what he deserved for being so 'full of self-love' as Olivia put it and Orsino finally discovered what he needed, someone to truly love. There are a few exceptions in this happy ending though; for example what ever happened to Antonio? The last time he is seen he is in custody. Why didn't Shakespeare see fit to give him a happy ending? And what about Feste? Maybe he thinks he's better off on his own. And what of Fabian and Sir Andrew Aguecheek? We never find out what happens to either of them. Shakespeare uses Twelfth Night as a way to poke fun at the fickle world of love and relationships. He makes us realise just how many types of love there are, some which meet his approval, and some which don't. ...read more.

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