In Twelfth Night, Act 1, Scene i,  critically analyze Orsino's character and the romantic atmosphere.  

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Character analysis of Orsino:
Orsino is a foolishly romantic enthusiast. Had this been the Romantic era, he would have been the optimistic romantic to Goethe's pessimistic young Werther. Orsino is all emotion with no reasoning restraint and taken away by imaginative fantasies. Instead of seeing Olivia's commitment to seven years of mourning and weeping as a closed door to his affection and happiness, he praises it as a sign of how deep her romantic love will be for the future "king" of her heart, then hies him away to revel in dreams thereof on "sweet beds of flowers." [Twenty-first century men would do well to be infected with a little bit of Orsino's malady.]

Analysis of romantic atmosphere:
Literary atmosphere is the same as literary mood. Mood is created by the combination of diction, vocabulary, setting, objects, and other details. In Act I, Scene i of Twelfth Night, Shakespeare introduces Orsino's high diction of poetical language that is ludicrous for its extremity, the ludicrousness of which is set up by Shakespeare in the second and third lines in the words "excess" "surfeiting" "sicken" and "die." By these early vocabulary choices, the audience is warned not to take Orsino seriously.

In addition, the background ambiance is supplied by musicians playing love music, which is of course what prompts Orsino's great entrance line, " If music be the food of love, play on." In addition, a courtier attempts to change the ambiance and possibly the setting, which is an intimate chamber in Orisno's home, by distracting Orsino with the thought of a hunt. This effort fails when Orsino takes up the awaiting play on the word "hart" (a male deer more than five years old) and rejects being practical or sensible or reasonably employed in an activity and chooses instead to change the present setting and ambiance for one even more romantic...a dream-laden bed of flowers.

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Twelfth Night

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