Twelfth Night Language Analysis

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Introductory speeches in many Shakespeare plays can be a foreshadowing of what is to come. In William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth night,” we see a tremendous amount of monolog made by many different characters in many different acts. One monolog, in particular, gives the readers a hint or an impression of what goes on in the play itself. In the very first act in the play twelfth night, Duke Orsino’s introductory monolog uses diction, personification, and metaphor to show themes of desire and deception that are explored through the characters and the play in the larger play. Shakespeare’s use of diction in Orsino’s speech describes different aspects of desire and deception that is explored throughout the play. When Orsino expels his first few…show more content…
We see this exaggerated one-sided love play out in many forms throughout the play. Viola, for example, says in this line, “I’ll do my best To woo your lady: Aside. Yet a barful strife! Whoe 'er I woo, myself would be his wife.” (1.4.44-46) This tells us that Viola, having just met Orsino a few days ago, has a desire to be wed to Orsino. This kind of desire that Viola has for Orsino can only be conjured up from a fairytale due to the sheer passion and irrationality of falling in love with an acquaintance. Shakespeare also uses diction in deceptive forms. This is evident when Orsino uses the word “violets” (1.1.6) in his speech and to display the deception that is played out in the play. The word “violets” comes from the comes from the latin word viola. Some readers would be deceived, as many might not even notice the hint that Orsino gives in his own speech. We know this deception to be true in the form of Viola when she disguises herself as a eunuch to Orsino in his own courts as evidence in this line, “For such disguise as haply shall become The form of my intent. I 'll serve this duke: Thou shall present me as an eunuch to him”…show more content…
Personification is used in this phrase, “O spirit of love, how quick and fresh art thou, that, notwithstanding thy capacity receiveth as the sea, nought enters there,” (1.1.4-7) as a way of addressing love as a person. Orsino claims that love is “quick and fresh,” which is another way of saying that love is keen and eager to devour anything. The phrase also describes love as having the same “capacity” as the “sea”. Shakespeare is trying to say that love can eagerly devour anything that is of any size or capacity. It can also be interpreted that love can devour people as shown in the case of Sebastian and Olivia’s brother. Furthermore, the word “spirit” has a denotation of a supernatural being. The spirit of love might be Shakespeare’s way of referring to God. The addition of God in the play changes the way the play is seen, as God is believed to have the power to influence the fate of men. We see this influence play in the first act of the play where Viola has realized that her brother was devoured by the sea after the shipwreck. This sets the play in motion when viola disguises herself and interacted with other characters living in Illyria. In the end of the play, we see that the intrusion has changed the fate of Viola when she marries Orsino. God also has a part in influencing Olivia when he allowed death to devour her brother, leaving her with a lack of desire for men. This lack of
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