The Nature of Love in "Twelfth Night" - A Review and Summary of Two Critical Essays

Essay by katiemac4High School, 12th gradeA-, March 2007

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"Twelfth Night" is one of Shakespeare's most famous comedies. The story is one filled with life, death, mourning, mistaken identity, character parallels, and love. All of these aspects are important, and are all interconnected. It is impossible to speak of one without the other, so with reference to the love in this text, other themes will be discussed as well.

Though both of the articles were on the topic of love, they related to very different aspects of the feeling. The first concerned itself with the nature of the love shared by the personalities in the play, while the second spoke of the motivation and reasoning behind the love of the characters.

The idea that love in the play is not truly love, but desire and lust for power is one of the ideas discussed. The other article discusses the implications of mortality on the motivation of the characters to live life and love.

The first article expresses the view that the "love" that Shakespeare writes about in Twelfth Night refers to power and desire and not truly sentiment. Love is traditionally impossible to explain. The lack of clarity that comes with the word is stripped however when it is associated with the rise over social, political, and economical relations, as desire can provoke.

The article states that the desire in the play is related in a large part to service. Beyond the loyal bond that the servant has to the master, there is a feeling of love demonstrated by many of the characters in this play. Viola is servant to Orsino, Olivia has an erotic desire for Cesario, Orsino has a courtly infatuation for Olivia, Antonio has a homoerotic affection for Sebastian, and Sir Toby marries Olivia's servant Maria. The class distinctions in the house "inflame passionate rivalry" and...