Essay on Love Triangle in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

Essay on Love Triangle in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

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Love Triangle in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night


“O, what a deal of scorn looks beautiful in the contempt and anger of his lip! A murd’rous guilt shows not itself more soon than love that would seem hid: love’s night is noon. – Cesario, by the roses of the spring, by maidhood, honor, truth, and every thing, I love thee so, that maugre all thy pride, nor wit nor reason can my passion hide. Do not extort thy reasons from this clause, for that I woo, thou therefore hast no cause; but rather reason thus with reason fetter: love sought is good, but given unsought is better.” (Shakespeare. Twelfth Night. 3.2.144-156).

In Twelfth Night, Shakespeare was able to embody the perfect love triangle between Olivia, Orsino, and Viola/Cesario. This particular passage was Olivia’s speech upon the first encounter with Viola, or as Olivia knew her, Cesario. Cesario had actually come to the countess to bring message of Orsino’s love for her, but upon encountering Cesario, Olivia fell instantly in love herself thus finishing the final corner of this love triangle. I think the main point that should be taken into account when reading Olivia’s passage is the obvious presence of guilt and love, two very opposing emotions, which she appears to be having an internal conflict with.

In her aside, she was immediately stricken with love for the boy Cesario that she had only just met. Just before the speech Olivia made, Cesario was rather uncivil to her. Considering Olivia’s place as a rich countess, Cesario stepped out of line when speaking to her with his subtle disrespectfulness. However, Olivia began by gushing over how much she loved Cesario despite his words reflecting “contempt and anger” (3.2.146). Rather, Olivia showed signs...


... middle of paper ...


...e was trying to portray the message that love is blinding and when it gets to certain point it will inevitably catch up to you and turn your world around. Shakespeare has a very subtle way of pushing the audience to see situations in a more creative light. It is very hard to read Shakespeare without forming your own edgy ideas as to how the play will turn out. Shakespeare successfully continues to feed into his audience’s imaginative minds as plays such as Twelfth Night live on.




Works Cited

McDonald, Russ. The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001.

Oxford English Dictionary. 2005. Oxford University Press. 28 Oct 2005. .

Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night. Baker, Herschel; Barton, Anne; Kermode, Frank. The Riverside Shakespeare: Second Edition. Boston/New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.

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