Madness in Love in William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” There are many definitions for love, but there are also many definitions for madness. Both words, when joined together, create an endless possibility of emotions and actions one can bare to hold for the sake of another. Madness can be described as “senseless folly”. When a person is in love with another, they tend to define their feelings of passionate affection for this other person. Shakespeare’s concept was to involve some of his characters with this feeling. In Twelfth Night, madness is created by the misconception and misunderstanding due to love.
Mainly, it is said that Love is one of the most significant types of madness. It leads to causes like confusion and chaos in mind, mentality, and behavior. In the Twelfth Night, the Duke Orsino falls madly in love with Olivia. Orsino describes his love towards Olivia deeper than he could imagine, “So full of shapes is fancy, that it alone is high fantastical”. Orsino loses his focus on reality as he says “For such as I am all true lovers are. Unstaid and skittish in all motions else, save in the constant image of the creature, that is beloved.”(P.34) The only thing that is real for him at the moment is anything that has to do with his “beloved creature”, the beautiful Olivia. We also see Olivia’s senseless acts come to play as she finds herself smitten after her first encounter with Cesario: ”I do I know not what, and fear to find. Mine eye too great a flatterer of my mind. […]What is decreed must be – and be this so!”(P. 24) Olivia finds herself unable to think properly because she is so distracted and flustered by the attractive looks of Cesario. Another interpretation could be that Olivia’s affection has been taken and used up by Cesario due to the loss of her brother and she refuses to share her love with anyone else. Later on in the play Malvolio’s madness changes from the state of being madly in love and committing crazy acts of devotion to the...
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