Twelfth Night Analysis

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Love vs. Lust and Desire (The Twelfth Night)
Love and lust can often be mistaken for each other by unsuspecting and naïve characters. In William Shakespeare’s The Twelfth Night a majority of the characters experience learning the difference between whether lust is the same as love or if they are merely enjoying someone’s looks only. The question of desire being overpowered by love is something that has been deeply looked at by literary critics to try to decipher.

The beginning of the story starts out with Viola and her twin brother Sebastian getting into a shipwreck where Viola believes that her brother has drowned and been lost at sea. She shows an enormous amount of love in those first few moments when she realizes that he is gone. No love is ever greater than family love because it is the most pure form of love. Viola, out of self-preservation, takes a job in the house of the Duke Orsino and becomes his messenger to his love Olivia. Olivia is a vain woman who is also mourning her brother’s death and refuses to see Orsino or listen to his marriage proposals. As a different tack, Orsino sends Viola, dressed as Cesario, to try to court Olivia for him. This is not love that Orsino is feeling. “Unrequited, melancholic love intensifies this process: it is self-consuming, as Orsino is pursued and consumed by his own desires.” (Eagleton) As Eagleton alludes he is merely attracted to Olivia’s beauty and power. The way he acts towards her does personify that he loves her, but he only compliments her beauty and virtue in his poems. He alludes to only wanting her because she is what is seen as the most desirable woman around his land. “Irrationally, Orsino would love a woman who he knows loves herself. But whereas he shrewdly guesses the true condition of his lady's affection, he is blind to the similar makeup of his own passion.” (Hunt)

This showing of lust is counteracted by the showings from Viola of love for Orsino. She chooses to do as he asks and help him...
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