Love as the Cause of Suffering
In William Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night, love as the cause of suffering is one of the most prominent theme of the story. Even though this play ends in love and wedded bliss, Shakespeare also shows us that love can also cause pain. The characters often view love as a curse, something that is thrust upon you and you cannot easily or willing escape. Examples include Malvolio’s love for Olivia, the love triangle between Olivia, Duke Orsino, and Viola as Cesario, and Antonio’s crush on Sebastian. There are countless occasions where unrequited love for another results in heartbreak and sorrow. Malvolio is a social climber, he feels that if Olivia would love him his status would be higher. But because of his pompous attitude Olivia is definitely not in love with him, and the rest of the house finds him quite annoying. As revenge for being such a bother in the house, Maria plants a love letter addressed to Malvolio forged in Olivia’s handwriting. Malvolio is then fooled into thinking that at last, his lady has fallen for him. “I do not now fool myself, to let my imagination jade me, for every reason excites to this, that my lady loves me!” (2.5.153) With this new information, Malvolio now has the confidence to show his love for Olivia. When he approaches her though, she thinks he has gone mad and sends him away to be locked up. Malvolio’s love for Olivia has lead him to embarrassment, heartbreak and prison.
Lady Olivia has been fighting off Duke Orsino for a while, so after her brother and father’s deaths, she goes into mourning for seven years, swearing she could never love another until then. Unfortunately for Olivia, this does not crush Duke Orsino’s spirit, but only makes him want her more.”O, when mine eyes did see Olivia first: me thought she purged air of pestilence” (1.1.19). To make her love him back, Duke hires Cesario to woo Olivia for him. Duke can’t seem to catch a break because Olivia then falls in love with...
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