Twelfth Night: Theme Of Love Essay, Research Paper
Twelfth Night: Theme of Love
In the play “Twelfth Night,” Shakespeare explores and illustrates the
emotion of love with precise detail. According to “Webster’s New World
Dictionary,” love is defined as “a strong affection or liking for someone.”
Throughout the play Shakespeare examines three different types of love: true
love, self love and friendship.
“Twelfth Night” consists of many love triangles, however many of the
characters who are tangled up in the web of love are blind to see that their
emotions and feelings toward other characters are untrue. They are being
deceived by themselves and/or the others around them. There are certain
instances in the play where the emotion of love is true, and the two people
involved feel very strongly toward one another. Viola’s love for Orsino is a
great example of true love. Although she is pretending to be a man and is
virtually unknown in Illyria, she hopes to win the Duke’s heart. In act 1,
scene 4, Viola let’s out her true feelings for Cesario, “yet a barful strife!
Whoe’er I woo, myself would be his wife (1).” That statement becomes true when
Viola reveals her true identity. Viola and Orsino had a very good friendship,
and making the switch to husband and wife was easy. Viola was caught up in
another true love scenario, only this time she was on the receiving end, and
things didn’t work out so smoothly. During her attempts to court Olivia for
Orsino, Olivia grew to love Cesario. Viola was now caught in a terrible
situation and there was only one way out, but that would jeopardize her chances
with Orsino. It’s amazing that Olivia could fall for a woman dressed as a man,
but because Viola knew what women like to hear, her words won Olivia’s heart.
The next case of true love is on a less intimate and romantic scale, and more
family oriented. Viola and Sebastian’s love for one another is a bond felt by
all siblings. Through their times of sorrow and mourning for each of their
apparent deaths they still loved each other. They believed deep down that maybe
someway or by some miracle that each of them was still alive and well.
Many people, even in today’s society, love themselves more then anything
else. “Twelfth Night” addresses the issue of self love and how it affects
peoples lives. Malvolio is the easiest to identify with the problem of self
love. He sees himself as a handsome and noble man. Malvolio believes many
women would love to be with him. He likes to see things one way only, and he
deceives himself just to suit his outlook on the situation. For example, in the
play he twists Olivia’s words around to make it sound like she admires his
yellow cross-gartered stockings, when she really despises them. Both Sir Toby
and Olivia show signs of self love but it is not as big an issue. Sir Toby only
cares about himself and no one else, not even his friends. He ignores Maria’s
warnings about drinking into the night, and he continues to push Sir Andrew to
court Olivia. Although he believes Sir Andrew doesn’t have a chance. Olivia
cares about the people around her, but she also believes that no man is worthy
of her beauty. She thinks she is “all that,” and that no one can match her.
Friendship is the third type of love expressed in “Twelfth Night.” The
biggest and closest friendship would have to be between Orsino and Cesario.
They barely knew each other at first, and before long Orsino was telling Cesario
his inner love for Olivia. He even had Cesario running his love messages to
Olivia. The second friendship between Viola and the Sea Captain was not
mentioned a lot, but they had a very deep bond between one another. They
survived the shipwreck together and the Sea Captain promised to keep Viola’s
idea about pretending to be a man a secret. If he had opened his mouth the
entire play would have changed. The third friendship, and definitely the
strangest, is between Sir Toby and Sir Andrew Aguecheek. They are close friends
but sometimes Sir Toby doesn’t show it. He sets Sir Andrew up, and likes to get
him into trouble. An example is persuading Sir Andrew to challenge Cesario to a
dual, even though he is not a great swordsman and is unaware of Cesario’s
ability. On the other hand, Sir Andrew appreciates Sir Toby’s company because
he always lifts his spirits and makes him feel like a true knight.
Love plays a major role in “Twelfth Night,” and Shakespeare addresses
true love, self love and friendship in a very compelling and interesting way.
Love is great to read about because everyone deserves a little love. “Twelfth
Night” is the true definition of love, and Shakespeare does a great job of
explaining a somewhat difficult topic.