Character Analysis - Orsino - Twelfth Night

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The opening lines of “Twelfth Night” introduce us to a moping Orsino, the Duke of Illyria, who has been consumed with love. The first line itself saying “If music be the food of love play on”. Orsino makes use of a metaphor to try and help him gain some sort of control over his love, wanting to ‘feed’ it and in doing so probably satisfy the intense craving for love. ‘Music’ being a universal language emphasises on Orsino’s view of love as being an extremely common emotion, something that’s always present as a hunger one must satisfy with some sort of ‘food’. He asks the musicians to play on so that his ‘appetite’ might sicken and die, as is the norm when one is satiated with the excess of something. Shakespeare, in this opening speech makes use of a number of food metaphors. Orsino asks the musicians to strike up a particular part of the music again, a sad part that had a ‘dying fall’, very similar to the conflicts he seems to be going through in his pain ful, lovesick pursuit of someone who did not return his affections. Orsino’s character is one of extreme emotions, someone who exaggerated things and moaned about his bad luck, behaviour that we do not expect to see coming from a ’Duke’. Instead of representing a figure of authority and responsibility, Orsino sits and listens to his musicians playing to him, wailing about the changeable nature of love. The use of a simile now appears with ‘like the sweet sound that breathes upon a bank of violets’ talking of the music ‘breathing’ upon a bank of violets and then also ‘stealing and giving odour’. Orsino’s plan is not entirely successful, even though he grows tired of the music, he cannot escape thinking and mourning about his love. The music is not ‘so sweet’ as it once sounded to Orsino. The line is significant as it gives us the first glimpse into Orsino’s whimsical nature, enraptured and completely immersed in

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