Duke Orsino: An essay describing Shakespeare's Duke Orsino from his play, The Twelfth Night.

Essay by a_beautifulmistakeHigh School, 10th grade March 2004

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Duke Orsino

By: Susan Humphrey

"If music be the food of love, play on. Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, the appetite may sicken, and so die." These are the opening words of Shakespeare's play, "Twelfth Night", which welcome us into an atmosphere of depressed love, as Count Orsino, the Duke of Illyria, expresses his feelings of love towards the Lady Olivia. Duke Orsino has received word that the Lady Olivia would none of his affections, as she is mourning the death of her father and brother, and has sworn to not have contact with men for seven years. These opening lines give us a good look into Orsino's character. He is a love-struck bachelor, who, as we later find out, seems to be in love with the idea of being in love.

One begins to question the sincerity of Count Orsino's love towards Olivia when he insists upon sending messenger, after messenger to try and woo Olivia.

If you were in love as deeply as the Duke claims to be, would you not take matters into your own hands and seek your lover's affections yourself? Orsino declares himself as a true lover in Act 2, Scene 4: "For such as I am, all true lovers are.", and that it would be impossible for a woman to love as much as a man such as him. And yet he continues on to say: "Our (a man's) fancies are more giddy and unfirm, more longing, wavering, sooner lost and worn than women's are." This proves the Duke to be very contradictory, and seems to add to our suspicions that he is not really in love with Olivia.

Count Orsino has a low opinion of women, believing that men should marry only younger women so that they can train them to...