Essay on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

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Twelfth Night Essay Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night, consists of a number of themes including love, appearance versus reality, acting and theatre, madness and time. However, it could be said that the central theme of this play is love. It can be seen from the very first line of the play: “If music be the food of love, play on” (I. i. 1). The play presents a rich variety of types of love, from foolishness to self-sacrificing unrequited love. Each character in the play depicts love differently and acts differently in front of love. A few characters such as Viola are very sincere and careful of their love whereas most of the other characters such as Orsino act foolish in front of love. Orsino is represented by Shakespeare as a melancholy lover. He is also in love with Olivia but it can be said that he is mostly in love with the idea of love itself since he talks incessantly of love: “O spirit of love, how quick and fresh art thou” (I. i. 9) that he is unable to distinguish between appearance and reality. Also, by looking at the first two scenes of Act 1, it is clear that he wallows in his emotions, and is changeable and moody. He threatens to kill Viola-Cesario as Olivia says that ‘he’, Viola-Cesario, is her husband. However, he switches his love from Olivia to Viola without any hesitation as soon as he gets to know that Viola-Cesario is actually a woman. On the other hand, unlike Orsino, Malvolio or Olivia, Viola is not self-seeking. Therefore she is not foolish. She is instead self-sacrificing. Her love for Orsino is constant, deep and pure whereas Orsino changes his love abruptly. Also, she unquestioningly carries out Orsino’s orders to woo Olivia even though she loves him: "Nothing but this – your true love for my master" (III. iv. 180). However, even Viola behaves in a slightly foolish way when she falls in love with Orsino. Viola, even though she is
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