What lessons can be learned from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night?

Expert Answers info

David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2017

write9,598 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

A further lesson to be learned from Twelfth Night is how incredibly complex and multi-faceted love is. All of its many weird and wonderful aspects are on display here, from the excessive—as in Orsino's instruction to the musician in the opening scene to surfeit his amorous appetite—to its fickleness, as one sees later on when Orsino gives up Olivia to Sebastian.

Love can also bring madness. Observe how Olivia behaves in Act I, Scene 5, after she's seen Cesario for the first time:

I do I know not what and fear to find
Mine eye too great a flatterer for my mind.
Fate, show thy force. Ourselves we do not owe.
What is decreed must be, and be this so.

Olivia's love is even more steeped in madness than she thinks, as Cesario is, of course, really Viola in disguise.

Malvolio's love for Olivia is, if anything, even more insane than that of his mistress for Cesario. Tricked by a forged letter from Maria, the hapless steward has got it into his head that Olivia has the hots for him. Malvolio's subsequent...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 770 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Margarete Abshire eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)


calendarEducator since 2016

write977 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Tamara K. H. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write3,619 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences




check Approved by eNotes Editorial