Types of Love in 'Twelfth Night' by Shakespeare

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  • Topic: Love, Marriage, Unrequited love
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  • Published : March 4, 2013
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There are multiple forms of love in the Shakespearean play Twelfth Night, such as self-love, unrequited love, hidden love, and selfless love. The main theme of Twelfth Night is love. I have chosen to analyse Malvolio's self-love, and Viola’s self-less love.

Malvolio's Self Love
Throughout the play, there are scenes involving Malvolio, Olivia's prudish, irritating servant. He is full of self-love, and cares for no-one but himself and Olivia. Maria, Andrew, Toby and Feste decide to play a prank on Malvolio, by writing a letter that Malvolio found. He somehow worked himself into it, and convinced himself it was from Olivia. In truth, it was from Maria, who has the same handwriting as her mistress, Olivia. Shakespeare has written a soliloquy by Malvolio, telling how he loves himself so much, and has plans to marry Olivia and become famous and rule the world with her. He is taking a stroll in the garden, when he finds the letter from ‘Olivia’ and the letters M.O.A.I. He convinces himself that it means his name, and proceeds to make a fool of himself, by following ‘Olivia’s’ instructions to wear yellow cross-gartered stockings, and a big smile, which Olivia detested on him. Some quotes showing Malvolio’s self-love are: ‘To be Count Malvolio!’ – Act 2, Scene 5.

‘Having been three months married to her (Olivia)’ – Act 2, Scene 5. ‘Calling my officers about me, in my branched velvet gown, having come from a day bed, where I have left Olivia sleeping’ – Act 2, Scene 5. ‘Toby approaches; curtsies there to me’ – Act 2, Scene 5.

Viola’s Self-Less Love
Viola, the main character, is the complete opposite of Malvolio. She is fun-loving, happy, and completely selfless. She loves Orsino from the very start, and does not question him, waver from the path set for her from him, nor disagree with anything he says, other than the fact that apparently, women cannot love as much as men can, despite the fact that he very quickly changes his love from Olivia to Viola in the end....
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