Essay about Twelfth Night By William Shakespeare

Essay about Twelfth Night By William Shakespeare

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Like many of Shakespeare’s comedies, Twelfth Night revolves around the central theme of love by focusing on the interactions between characters. Two characters, Orsino and Olivia, are self-indulgent people too busy living in the melodrama of their emotions to relate to those around them. They become inconsiderate of the feelings of others. Orsino is so lovesick that he can think of nothing but Olivia while Olivia is so fixed upon grieving for her brother that nothing else matters to her. It is only when Viola, as Cesario, becomes part of their lives that they change.
Orsino suffers from a case of lovesickness that does not allow him to think of anything other than love and Olivia. He says of Olivia, “Oh, when mine eyes did see Olivia first, methought she purged the air of pestilence” (1.1.18-19). For him, it was love at first sight, and he sees that Olivia is perfect. She has no faults, and he will continue to pursue no matter how many times she rejects him.
Orsino seems to be more in love with the idea of love itself than Olivia though. In Act 1, he says “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). Enjoying the drama of his state, he speaks about how wonderful love is. Yet he has to entertain the notion that love makes him sad as he asks the musicians to play a sad part of the song again before he goes on to talk about how vivid and fantastical love is.
A lot of Orsino’s speeches about love have more to do with him than his supposed love, Olivia. He tells Cesario, “If ever thou shalt love, in the sweet pangs of it remember me; for such as I am, all true lovers are, Unstaid and skittish in all motions else save in the constant image of the creature ...


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... stealth to creep in at mine eyes. Well, let it be” (1.5.270-273). She barely spoke with Cesario, yet she already feels that he is perfect. She even tricks Malvolio into giving Cesario a ring, making it seem like the token she wants to give him is actually a ring from Orsino. She never considers what sort of predicament that will place Cesario in. She just goes along with idea, indulging her desire for him.
In Twelfth Night, Shakespeare shows the dangers of one being disconnected from those around them through the characters of Olivia and Orsino. These two are so self-absorbed that they refuse to focus on anything other than their own feelings. They do not consider others. Orsino would rather dwell in his lovesickness for Olivia and muse about love itself. Olivia, on the other hand, pines for the brother she lost or for the love who is actually a woman in disguise.

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