The Theme Of Love In Twelfth Night

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Twelfth Night, one of William Shakespeare’s amusing comedies, examines the natural human desire for love. The play showcases a love triangle that explores various types of love. Throughout the play, characters search for love; however, they are under a misunderstanding of the meaning of love. Orisino is the prime example of wasted love where he finds himself infatuated with Olivia only for the purpose of being in love. No direction exists in Orsino’s love other than he only loves Olivia because he likes the idea of being in love with her. The 1988 movie production of the play, directed by Kenneth Branagh, supports this misdirected love that Shakespeare displayed in his text. Based on Shakespeare and Branagh’s interpretation of love in Twelfth Night, love is misdirected and Orsino is the principal perpetrator of this theme.

As the play opens, Orinso describes his suffering from his love for Olivia. Orsino professes his love for Olivia and the play’s opening lines are, “If music be the food of love, play on, / Give me excess of it that, surfeiting, / The appetite may sicken and so die” (1.1.1-3). Orsino’s overdramatic speech expresses his consuming infatuation with Olivia. Rather than spending time dwelling on his obsession for Olivia, Orsino would rather listen to music enough to make him sick thus his desire for Olivia will disgust him. During Kenneth Branagh’s film adaptation of Twelfth Night, this opening scene is dark and gloomy with Orisno’s hand in his face looking depressed. His stage direction displays Orsino’s hopeless romantic and sadness from his overwhelming desires for Olivia. Overall, Orsino’s already knows his standing with Olivia and should be able to recognize his feelings for her will be reciprocated.

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...ment, he is willing to be with anyone that is willing to reciprocate his love.

Ultimately, Orsino’s love is misguided in both William Shakespeare and Kenneth Branagh’s interpretation of Twelfth Night. At one point, Orsino is depressed over his unreciprocated love for Olivia and in the next instant he claims to love Viola. He likes the idea of being in love with someone, whilst being fixated on one person to the next. Love needs to be pure and genuine intention, whereas Orsino needs to understand the passion and true emotion of love. Although Orsino and Viola ended together, their love may not be true love with passion. Orsino may have trouble expresses his inner emotions for Viola since he hasn’t fully developed them for Viola. All in all, Orsino’s feelings throughout the play are misdirected but at the end of the day, he received the love he was searching for.
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