Discuss love in Twelfth Night.
In Twelfth Night, Shakespeare uses the 16th century Festival of Twelfth Night to demonstrate the strange association of love to madness. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the "notoriously abused" situation Malvolio is caught in. Fabian and Toby, with Maria and Feste, aggravate Malvolio's secret and over-reaching feelings of love for Olivia and egg him on to behavior...
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In Twelfth Night, Shakespeare explores the notion that love is senseless and shallow to those simply in love with being in love; he suggests that although one may feel deep emotion, a change in circumstance will inevitably alter one's affections.
In the opening scene, Duke Orsino proclaims that he instantly fell in love "when [his] eyes did see Olivia" (I.i.20), yet later on, when he realized his servant Cesario was actually a young woman named Viola who was in love with him, he offered to marry her because she had "call'd [him] master for so long" (V.i.314). Viola, disguised as a man, fell in love with Orsino within 3 days of meeting him, and Olivia herself fell instantly in love with Viola, who she believed was Orsino's messenger Cesario, even though she had vowed to live "like a cloistress" (I.i.29) for 7 years as she grieved the death of her brother. Olivia believed she had married Cesario, but when Viola revealed her true gender and Olivia discovered she had actually married Viola's twin brother Sebastian, she accepted the stranger as her true love believing it was destiny.
From beginning to end, the shifting sentiments and baseless affections which the plot is founded upon invite the question about the existence of genuine love.