The Theme of Deception in Act One of Twelfth Night by Shakespeare

397 Words2 Pages
The Theme of Deception in Act One of Twelfth Night by Shakespeare

The theme of deception runs very strong in Act One. Almost all the characters seem to either be deceiving someone, or being deceived themselves.

Orsino is the first deceiver we meet. He is also being deceived, by himself. He is fooling himself by believing that he only has to tell a woman he loves her, and she will fall in love with him. He is in love with the idea of love itself. He is so infatuated with love, he makes parallels about love. He says it is that same as music and flowers. He then continues the parallels and makes the connection about love being the food of life. Without it, you would be needing the 'hearts and flowers.'

That breathes upon a bank of violets,

Stealing and giving odour.

He is so obsessed with love, that a servant motioning a hart, meaning animal, Orsino attempts a long winded pun.

Orsino's language is highfalutin, and long winded. He believes that this is the language of love, but when he attempts to use it to win the love of Olivia she is disgusted with it, as she knows that it is only Orsino's ego that makes him believe that he loves her.

It is the more like to be feigned; I pray you keep it in.

Viola is a very pragmatic, shrewd woman. She does not deceive her self in the way Orsino does. After the Captain tells her that her brother may be alive, she rewards him with gold, and then goes on to question the Captain about the land she is in. She realises that she must do something to survive, and instead of morning about the death of her brother, she takes practical steps.

for I can sing,

And speak to him in many sorts of music.

Viola, as Cesario, manages to win the favour of Orsino He truly believes that she is a he. Orsino, still convinced of my majesty, believes that he can win the love of a woman, via a proxy. By having Viola merely read the words he has prepared, he thinks that Olivia will fall immediately in love with him. But while Orsino had his head in the clouds about his love, Viola is attempting to conceal from him, her love for him.

Sir Toby is tempting to deceive Maria that Sir Andrew is a great man. But his description is full of mockery - he says one thing but means another.
Open Document