In Twelfth Night, Act 1, Scene 1, lines 1-15, what are some literary devices used, and why are they important/how do they impact the play?

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pnhancock eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Duke Orsino's speech at the opening of Twelfth Night expresses the lovesick feeling that follows the characters of the play, and establishes his character as melancholy and melodramatic. One example of this characterization is in lines 1-3, in which Orsino uses metaphor and personification to express his heartbreak.

If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.

The desire for his appetite to "sicken and... die" is personification because it gives his appetite the attributes of health and life. Additionally, describing music as the "food of love" is metaphorical, because it compares music to nourishment. He also utilizes personification to lament to love itself, stating:

O spirit of love! how quick and fresh art thou

This is an example of personification because he speaks directly to the "spirit of love," describing it as "quick and fresh."