Twelfth Night Sebastian
by William Shakespeare

Twelfth Night book cover
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Sebastian

Extended Character Analysis

Sebastian is Viola’s twin brother, who becomes lost in the shipwreck. Sebastian is pragmatic and kind. He is not as passionate as other characters in Twelfth Night and appears to be fairly calm in relation to the wildly loving characters surrounding him, such as Lady Olivia and Antonio.

Sebastian and Antonio’s Relationship

Antonio is Sebastian’s friend and rescuer. He shows an arguably dangerous amount of love and loyalty toward Sebastian. Antonio claims to love Sebastian deeply after having saved him and nursed him back to health. When Sebastian travels to Illyria, Antonio follows, despite being wanted by Orsino and his men.

After arriving in Illyria, Sebastian is shown further kindness by Antonio, who offers him his money. Sebastian accepts it, despite his higher social class. This shows Sebastian’s dependence on Antonio, who has become a sort of nurturer and caretaker for him. Without Antonio, Sebastian would not have arrived in Illyria or survived the shipwreck.

Sebastian and Lady Olivia

Sebastian becomes distracted once in Illyria. After parting with Antonio and promising to reunite with him later, he wanders off and meets Lady Olivia. Upon meeting Olivia, he finds himself in wondrous circumstances: The wealthy and beautiful Lady Olivia is in love with him and wants to marry him, believing that he is Cesario.

In an act of nonchalance and perhaps madness, he wonders at Olivia’s seemingly unfounded love and contemplates marriage. Sebastian even believes that he is mad, or “else this is a dream… If it be thus to dream, still let me sleep!” His wish to continue his “dream” shows his oddly ideal situation, as well as his satisfaction with it. He is unsure of what to say to Olivia, and he wishes for Antonio’s presence, saying “His counsel might do me golden service.” This comment shows that he trusts Antonio and wants his advice.

However, in a logical yet hasty decision, Sebastian decides to marry Olivia, seeing that marrying her will bring him wealth and social stature. Sebastian’s role in the play allows Lady Olivia to have a heterosexual marriage with someone who appears to be her beloved Cesario. With Sebastian’s arrival, the comedy begins to fall into place. Soon, the main characters are paired happily with their loves.

At the end of the play, Sebastian is reunited with Antonio and greets him with affection. Sebastian is also reunited with Viola, and the confusion over identity is solved, ending all duplicity.