The Impact Of Love On The Characters In Twelfth Night

“Love is the burning point of life, and since all life is sorrowful, so is love. The stronger the love, the more the pain. Love itself is a pain, you might say - the pain of being truly alive”, this quote by Joseph Campbell indicates how where there is love, there is pain, and how love always come with pain. Twelfth Night is a love and comedy play where Shakespeare shows us that while love can give us happiness and all the good things in life, it can also cause pain and suffering. The characters in the play need to experience pain and sorrow as they can’t get the one they desire and love. In Twelfth Night, Shakespeare illustrates that love creates melancholy, madness, and pain through the portrayal of Viola (disguised as Cesario later in the play), Orsino, and Malvolio.

To begin with, Viola, a strong, independent woman disguise herself as a man, and named herself Cesario to work for the Duke, Orsino, in order to find a safe place to live in Illyria. She develops feelings for Orsino and has fallen in love with him in the process of serving him. But she was in pain because she knows that she wouldn’t get her feelings for Orsino returned since Orsino is already in love with lady Olivia. Viola need to be the messenger between Orsino and Olivia even though it might give her pain because she can’t deny her job since she’s working for Orsino. She needs to help ‘woo’ Olvia for a man who she wants to marry herself, as can be seen in “Yet a barful strife! Who’er I woo, myself would be his wife”. This shows that Viola needs to hide her feelings for Orsino and is in much pain but she still needs to do the task Orsino asked her to do. “For such as we are made of, such be. How will this fadge? My master loves her darly, And I, poor monster fond as much on him.” Viola realizes the love triangle. But she is suffering and in sorrow, because she is not able to tell Osino how much she loves him, she’s not able to express her love to Orsino. Viola once says “My state is desperate for my master’s life”. The desperation that Viola is having may cause violence and pain as Orsino threatened to kill Cesario, the disguised version of Viola. Viola believes that for those who suffer from love will eventually get consumed by love and will become desperate for it. Therefore, violence will occur in order to secure the love of another. With the example of Orsino threatening to Viola shows that violence are shown as Orsino tries to keep Olivia to himself, but has caused pain for Viola. Given these points, it has been shown that love has caused pain for Viola both emotionally and physically as she may get harmed or killed by Orsino.

Secondly, Orsino is already showing his hopeless love to Olivia at the very beginning of the play, telling her how much he loves her but how’s she is ignorant of it. For instance, “If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it, that surfeiting”. This line was said by Orsino at the very beginning of the play shows that Orsino’s love for Oliva was not returned, but he still wants more and more of it so that he will get bored of love. He depicts love as an appetite that he wants to satisfy, but couldn’t. Moreover, when Orsino realizes that Olivia loves Cesario but not him, he felt like he's betrayed and threatened to kill Cesario, as can be seen in “I’ll sacrifice the lamb that I do love. To spite a raven’s heart within a dove”. This shows that Orsino has suffered so much from love that love gave him anger and jealousy to the point where he wants to kill Cesario when he found out that Olivia loves Cesario but not him as for an act of revenge because Olivia doesn’t love him back. But when Orsino gets the news that Olivia and Cesario (but in fact Sebastian, Viola’s twin brother) is married, Orsino is no longer angry, but has turned into melancholy and sorrow. Eventually, he accepts their marriage but has banished Olivia and Sebastian from Illyria so that he could never see their faces again, since it will remind him of the pain that he has suffered through, as can be seen in “Farewell, and take her; but direct thy feet / Where thou and I henceforth may never meet”. Another example of Orsino suffering from love is how sometimes Orsino would ask Feste for a melancholy song so that he could listen to, “That old and antique song we heard last night”. To conclude, Orsino has suffered pain from not being loved by the one he loves, and was in sorrow because of the feeling of betrayal by Cesario and Olivia, above all are all pains and melancholy that Orsino has to go through because of love.

Lastly, Malvolio, who in the play is a prompous steward of Olivia’s household. He is a status seeker, believing that if Olivia fell in love with him, his social status will be higher. But unfortunately, he stands zero chance in getting Olivia to fall in love with him because of his arrogant and overconfident attitude, while the rest of the characters in the play view him as an annoying character. As a result, Maria penned a love letter forged in Olivia’s handwriting to Malvolio, making him believe that it’s a letter from Olivia and that she has fallen for him. In particular, “I do not now fool myself, to let imagination jade me, for every reason excites to this, that my lady loves me”. This shows that love has made Malvolio gone blind that he is so sure and confident that lady Olivia loves him. In the letter, it addresses that Olivia likes Malvolio to dress up and act like a lunatic, such as wearing yellow stockings and cross-gatered. The letter has given Malvolio the courage to pursue Olivia, thinking she would love him back because, in Malvolio's mind, the letter is just another piece of evidence that show that Olivia loves him back like how he loves her. However, when he comes toward and proceed with his love to Olivia, wearing the yellow stockings and cross-gatered that was mentioned in the letter, Olivia thought he has gone crazy, and walked away. This has completely embarrassed Malvolio, confused him and bring him to depression. He thought that he know Oliva extremely well because he had served her for many years, but what he does not know is that Oliva doesn’t like those fashion, especially when Malvolio show up with yellow stockings and cross-gatered. “To bed? Ay sweetheart, and I’ll come to thee”. This saying by Malvolio himself indicates that Malvolio love has made him go crazy and that he has an illusion that Olivia is returning his love, he constantly quoted from the false letter hoping Olivia would remember, but in fact she doesn’t know anything about it. Malvolia doesn’t get his loved returned by Olivia throughout the whole play. At the end of the play when Malvolio realizes that Olivia has never loved him before, it has completely destroyed him, he’s put in so much pain and melancholy because of love. 

16 August 2021
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now