Lessons On The Different Types Of Love In William Shakespeare’s Play Twelfth Night

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Twelfth Night is like. Similar to many of William Shakespeare’s plays, Twelfth Night, has been around for many centuries and is still applicable in current society, because there are many important life lessons provided. Twelfth Night, moreover, provides important life lessons about love, friendship and deception.

Twelfth Night, to begin with, provides lessons about the different types of love. One of the key thematic lessons, for instance, provided about unrequited love is, it can cause pain and suffering. In the play, Duke Orsino loves Olivia, but she does have the same feelings for him. The Duke describes the first time he saw Olivia as, “The instant I was turned into a hart and my desires like fell and cruel hounds” (1.1.22-23). By alluding to the myth of, “Actaeon and Artemis”, the Duke explains that his desires for Olivia are ripping him apart, like the vicious dogs in the myth. The Duke feels in agony, as the person he loves the most, is not returning the same love to him. This pain is causing him to suffer all day and night. In this instance, it is evident that, unrequited love can cause misery and agony.

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Another lesson, similarly, provided about true love is that one may have to make sacrifices to obtain it. Duke Orsino sends Cesario to woo Oliva, not knowing that he is a girl, Viola, who truly loves him, “I’ll do my best/ To woo your lady; [Aside] yet, a barful strife! / Whoe’er I woo, myself would be his wife” (1.4.40-43). In this instance, it is evident that Viola sacrifices her own happiness for his. Even though, Viola loves the Duke, she cannot tell him because she is disguised as Cesario. The love she displays is true as she is willing to woo a girl for someone she loves. This shows the selfless nature of her love. In this way, Twelfth Night, teaches that true love is based on actions and sacrificial services to make the other person happy.

A key lesson, finally, provided about superficial love is it is caused by not thinking clearly. Olivia realizes that, “I do I know not what, and fear to find / Mine eye too great a flatterer for my mind.” (1.5.298-99). Olivia apprehends that she likes Cesario for his good looks and fears that her eyes through which love is believed to enter the soul have betrayed her reason and good judgement. She fears that she is falling in love too fast and gets carried away by her love for ‘Caesario” which shows how fast, which shows us her reckless and impulsive love for ‘Caesario’. We can see this the fact that since Olivia’s love for ‘Casario’ is also as superficial as Orsino’s is for her. We can see this as she is carried away by her emotions. This quote tells us that she is carried away by what she feels and what she sees but by not her mind. From this we can tell that her love is superficial as it acts on her emotions, which she feels when she feels, infatuated by ‘Caesario’. When Olivia falls in love with Cesario it is evident that it is superficial love as it is caused by infatuation. In this instance, it is evident that, Shakespeare provides many lessons on the different aspects of love, which are relevant in the modern day.

In addition to providing lessons about the different types of love, Shakespeare also provides lessons on friendship. A lesson, moreover, provided about friendship is, true friends are the ones, that are willing to make sacrifices. Antonio deeply cares about Sebastian and even though he has, ” many enemies in Orsino’s court/ else would I shortly see thee there/, but come what may, I do adore thee so, / that danger shall seem sport and I will go” (2.1.40-44). Antonio’s life is at risk if he goes to Illyria, but he is still willing to sacrifice his life to go with Sebastian because he truly cares for him. This reveals Antonio’s selfless nature, as he puts Sebastian before himself. His sincerity and generosity towards Sebastian proves that he is a true friend. In this instance, it is evident that, we should really care for our true friend because they are the ones that will make sacrifices for us.

Another lesson, additionally, provided about friendship is it is important to know who your true friends are. Sir Andrew tries to help Sir Toby when he is hurt but, Sir Toby says to him, ” Will you help an ass – head and a coxcomb and a knave, a thin-faced kave a gull! (5.1.201-203). Sir Toby like many other people believes that Sir Andrew is not smart and is an idiot. He just keeps Sir Andrew around to pay for his drinks, he does not care for him or think of him as a friend. Whereas Sir Andrew does not know this and deeply cares for him as a good friend. In this way, Twelfth Night, stresses the importance of differentiating between our true friends and those who just pretend to be real friends and use us.

A key thematic lesson, finally, provided is, sometimes spontaneous friends can be the most loyal. Viola and the Sea Captain survive the shipwreck together and the Sea Captain promises Viola, “Be you his eunuch and your mute I’ll be / When my tongue blabs, then let mine eyes not see” (1.2.62-63). Even though, the sea Captain and Viola have known each other for only a short period of time, Viola immensely trusts him to keep the secret that she is a girl disguising to be a boy. The Captain justifies that he is trustworthy as he does not tell anyone about her secret throughout the play. Viola and the Sea Captains friendship is an example of a spontaneous friendship that remains loyal. Twelfth Night, in this instance, provides lessons on friendship. Twelfth Night, not only provides important life lessons on friendship, it also provides lessons on deception.

A key thematic lesson, for instance, provided about self-deception is it reveals ones arrogance. Malvolio self-deceives himself before he is deceived when “Maria once told me that she did affect me, and I have heard herself come thus near, that should she fancy, it should be one of my complexion” (2.5.22-25). By Malvolio thinking that Olivia would marry someone of a lower class than herself he reveals his arrogance. Just because Olivia is more favourable towards him and has said that if she was to marry someone he should be like Malvolio does not mean she loves him. By Malvolio impling that Olivia loves him he is decieving himself as this is not true . In this instance, it is evident that self-deception can reveal who much a person is full of themselves. Not only can self-deception reveal ones arrogance, but deception can also lead to hurting one’s emotions. Maria, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Fabian play a trick on Malvolio by drop in his way some obscure epistles of love, wherein by the color of his beard, the shape of his leg, the manner of his gait, the expressure of his eye, forehead, and complexion, he shall find himself most feelingly personated.. This trick of theirs made Malvolio to do foolish things and eventually, Olivia believes that he has gone mad. By playing this trick on Malvolio they make him look foolish and left him in a helpless state as no one believes that he is not mad. Twelfth Night teaches that deception can lead to hurting someone’s feelings.

A key lesson, finally, provided that appearances can be deceptive. Feste who is the clown is actually the wisest of all the people as he is able to provide insight into the others characters. Feste rightly observes the Duke’s nature, ” May the melancholy god protect thee, and the tailor make thee double taffeta for thy mind is a very opal” (2.4.78-80). Feste perceives that Orsino has a changeable mind further proving how wise he is. In this way, Twelfth Night teaches that people are not always as they look from the outside. In this instance, it is evident that, in Twelfth Night, every character is affected by deception by either being deceived or being deceptive. There are many important life lessons, in conclusion, provided in Twelfth Night. Shakespeare provides many lessons on the different types of love and that in every type of love pain is caused. It also provides lessons on friendship and how true friendships are very necessary. Twelfth Night also provides important life lessons about deception and how it can lead to confusion.


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