Twelfth Night: Overview

Twelfth Night is a light-hearted comedy written by William Shakespeare between 1598 and 1601. Even though this play is a comedy, it also has pain in its content which is mostly inflicted on the three main characters, Viola. The pain they experience is mostly caused by the lack of self-knowledge they have about themselves or others, and by unrequited love. This pain makes Twelfth Night the play it is. Orsino experiences pain throughout Twelfth Night. “Even so in a minute! So full of shapes is fancy.
That it alone is high fantastical. ” Here Orsino pours out his hearts pain because of his infatuation love which is unrequited. He states that love is just in the imagination and it’s nothing more than fantastical, in these words pain can be felt and it easily to empathize with. Orsino has caused his pain upon himself as he doesn’t have enough self-knowledge to realize his love for Olivia is infatuation. Olivia’s requited love for Cesario ensures her pain in Twelfth Night.
Olivia’s love is true but it is aimed at the wrong person as Cesario is under disguise therefore her love for him will always remain one-sided. Olivia says in the play “I would you were as I would have you be. ” Olivia tries to make Cesario see that she wishes he loves her despite of his countless refusals towards her love, this causes Olivia hurt as she doesn’t clearly understand why Cesario doesn’t want her as she doesn’t lack wealth, status or looks. Viola or Cesario lacks self-knowledge of others, in specific mostly with Orsino.

She doesn’t seem to observe that Orsino’s love is artificial. “I’ll do my best to woo your lady. Yet, a barful strife! Whoe’er I woo, myself would be his wife. ” Viola gets her heart wounded and full of pain when she has to woo on her masters behalf. She secretly loves him therefore wooing a woman for him will cause pain and hurt upon any female. Viola also causes pain upon Olivia and in the process hurts herself, her pain is shown when she says “Poor lady, she were better to love a dream. Disguise, I see thou art a wickedness. Viola isn’t blaming her disguise for the pain she is bringing upon herself and others; she is acknowledging that she has chosen this path for herself. In conclusion, although Twelfth Night is a comedy, it has a fair amount of pain inflicted into the plot. Through this discussion, it has come to attention that a lot of pain could’ve been avoided if the characters had more self-knowledge about themselves and others, but if they did, there wouldn’t have been a Twelfth Night with suspense and a climax.

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