Human Nature in Twelfth Night.How do the experiences and observations of the three outcasts Malvolio, Antonio, and Sir Andrew Aguecheek provide insight into human nature?

Expert Answers
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let us consider these three characters and what unites them. In spite of the massive differences in terms of who they are and background, we can see the one unifying bond that unites them is that they all have experienced unrequited love. They all fall in love or are made to fall in love with a person who does not return their affections in the same way. Clearly we can see this with Antonio, who loves Sebastian to the point of putting himself in deliberate danger to pursue him:

I have many enemies in Orsino's court,

Else would I very shortly see thee there.

But, come what may, I do adore thee so,

That danger shall seem sport, and I will go.

Likewise, Sir Andrew Aguecheek is squandering his fortune, much to the benefit of Sir Toby, in trying to court Olivia, though clearly his attempt is doomed. Lastly, and perhaps most clearly, Malvolio, thanks to the stratagem of Maria and her cronies, is made to believe that he is in love with his mistress, and allows love to conquer his sober disposition with hilarious consequences.

Perhaps then what we can learn about human nature from these three characters concerns our experience of unrequited love and how love as a force often forces us to act in ways that we would never normally act, even though often that love is hopeless. What is interesting about these three characters is the way that love blinds them and deludes them: even though common sense makes it clear that their love is hopeless, they continue to act on that love long after they should have ceased their affections. Love as a force makes a mockery of humans, and forces us to act in ways that show how weak we really are.

Read the study guide:
Twelfth Night

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question