Essay on Love and Desire in "Twelfth Night"

Essay on Love and Desire in "Twelfth Night"

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According to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, love is defined as “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties; attraction based on sexual desire; affection and tenderness felt by lovers; affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interest; or an assurance of love.” In William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, three different types of love are experienced: friendship love, true love, and self love. Each character experiences a different type of love, and in some cases it is not what they originally expected. The twisted, yet intriguing love story allows the reader to get lost in each characters emotions and development throughout the play. Many instances of love in the play are overwhelmed with a feeling of desire, which leads some characters to fall blind to their true love. Viola, Cesario, Orsino, Olivia, Sebastian and Malvolio, all experience love in a variety of different ways, which adds depth to Shakespeare’s comical play.
One example of true love in Twelfth Night is Viola’s love for Orsino. At the beginning of the play, the reader experiences Orsino’s feelings about love. It is a confusing start however, because Shakespeare offers contradicting views on love. Orsino says, “Give me excess of it, that surfeiting, The appetite may sicken and so die” (Act 1, Scene 1, Line 2-3). This means that Orsino wants the musicians to give him so much love, that he gets sick of it and doesn’t love anymore. This shows the depth of Orsino’s desire for Olivia. He loves (or thinks he loves) Olivia so much that he can no longer control himself and wants to be rid of his love for her. The entire speech plays with the idea that love is not something tangible, but more or less an imaginative state of being....


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...fide in each other very deep secrets. With Viola and the Sea Captain, they formed a strong bond because of what they went through together, which is very relatable for the reader. Viola’s true desire to find her brother becomes apparent when she is willing to disguise herself as a man in attempts to find him. The Captain also shares some of her desire by willing to keep her plan a secret. Shakespeare did a great job in speaking about the topic of love in such a compelling, intense, yet comical way. He gives each reader something they can relate to and expresses that everyone experiences love in a different way.


Works Cited
Damrosch, David. Longman anthology of British literature. 2nd ed. Vol. A. New York: Longman, 2004. Print.
Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition (Book Only). 11th ed. Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 2003. Print.

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