What is Duke Orsino's concept of love in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night?

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Blaze Bergstrom eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Duke Orsino is a true romantic. He is in love with the idea of love and craves the excitement and stimulation of emotion. Even though he gets carried away with his feelings, he also understands that love is a powerful force. The self-awareness he displays, although limited, indicates that he has an intellectual as well as purely emotional attitude toward love.

Orsino wants to throw himself headlong into his love for Olivia, but he is not actually sure she's right for him. He blames love for attacking him as though he were an animal being hunted, as he makes a pun with "heart" and "hart," or deer. This image also plays on the personification of love as Cupid, who shoots lovers with his arrow.

Because Orsino is so caught up in the romantic or courtly ideal of love, he is unprepared when a genuinely powerful emotion hits him, when Viola enters the picture. It turns out that love really was pursuing him.

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Duke Orsino's views on love prove to be a bit contradictory , and all of his contradictory views...

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