To What Extent Do Different Types of Love Effect Foolishness and Madness in the Play? Essay

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To what extent do different types of love effect foolishness and madness in the play? Throughout ‘Twelfth Night’ Shakespeare establishes his play as a comedy by creating humour in several different ways. Key comedic elements include madness and foolishness, displaying drastic changes in characters who act irrationally because of their love for one another. The effect of this is a build in chaotic atmosphere and a sense of confusion, again creating humour appropriate for the festive season ‘Twelfth Night’ is often associated with. Characters such as Malvolio, Olivia, and Orsino all display foolish behaviour as a reaction of their love, although it could be argued that some of the characters grow mad and act foolishly as a response to their own individual ideas of love rather than true love itself. Orsino is one of the characters in Twelfth Night who does not appear to be overcome by madness in reaction to his love; it could be argued however that Orsino does act foolishly when perusing Olivia. The opening Scene of ‘Twelfth Night’ introduces Orsino; through the use of hyperbole in his monologue he presents his ‘fantastical’ idea of love as something that could be considered humorous, although it could be argued that these descriptions of love echo ideas of courtly romance that were common in the Elizabethan times. “If music be the food of love, play on, give me excess of it”. It could be interpreted that Orsino is considering that an excess of music might cure his obsession with love, in the same way that eating too much might result in a loss of appetite. This idea exemplifies Orsino’s self-indulgent and excessive nature in relation to the love he feels for Olivia. The audience may feel pathos for Orsino as he expresses’ the torment caused by his love for Olivia, alternatively the audience may perceive Orsino’s behaviour as humorous because of the foolishness of

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