Duke Orsino Character Analysis in Act 1
Orsino is the duke of the country Illyria. He is lovesick for the beautiful lady Olivia. From the first line of the play, Orsino’s character can already be distinguished as he rant about his love for Lady Olivia; “If music be the food of love, play on”, from this we already get the gist that he is a melancholy character. He uses the words such as ‘excess’, ‘surfeiting’, ‘appetite...sickening’ and ‘dying fall’ in his rant about his love for Olivia. These words suggests that that duke is not only in love with a person but more to love itself. Even though Olivia rejects all his protestations of love, and yet he still insists she marry him. As soon as Act 1, we see his servant Valentine deliver him a letter from Olivia telling him that she’s not interested at all in the Duke. Shakespeare has made Orsino a character who is indulgently sentimental, as he has seen Olivia, he has been fascinated at the sight of her to such an extent that his romantic imagination convinces him that he will die if Olivia doesn’t become his wife.
Orsino is also shown to be unstable or changeable, as he wallow in the sentimental music, he eventually grows tired of it and tells the musicians to stop. This is funny because it goes to show that he’s not really in love with Olivia as he claims to be, he is in fact self-centered and foolish. In Act 1, it is clear that he is not a serious Duke, we don’t see him do what he’s supposed to do as a Duke - run his country. It’s funny that we never really see him doing Duke things, instead he is portrayed as a fickle, self-absorbed man, lounges around his house, daydreaming about love and reciting cliched poetry about a woman who doesn’t give him the time of day. He is also annoying when he orders around his musicians, "Play something!" "No, stop. I don't want to hear it anymore!" "No, wait. Play another song.", its also funny how he has a music background when he is daydreaming about Olivia, it adds to the...
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