Discuss Twelfth Night as a satire on the idea of love at first sight.

Expert Answers
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the central themes of Twelfth Night is obviously, love and in particular love at first sight. Firstly, Twelfth Night is the feast of the Epiphany that represented a time of "licensed misrule" - the final blast before the Christmas festivities are over, and thus a time of excess and license. Thus it is a time to fall in love...

Secondly, throughout the play (and rather worryingly) love is compared to a sickness that comes upon us and replaces sense and reason with ridiculous actions that we carry out in the name of love (obviously the supreme example is Malvolio). Sebastian, while debating his sudden love for Olivia, persists in saying "Yet 'tis not madness", yet elsewhere he says he needs must "wrangle with reason" to accept and come to terms with his love for Olivia, thereby highlighting the comparison between love as a form of insanity that overrules our logical brains and causes us to do stupid things. At the end of the play, of course, marriage is seen as re-imposing common sense and ending the "licensed misrule" within the pages, but we are left with the worrying thought that we do do very stupid things when we are "afflicted" with the "plague" of love - a theme common in many of Shakespeare's comedies, especially Midsummer Night's Dream.