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Twelfth Night Explores the Nature of Love

The play Twelfth Night explores many different types of love between it’s characters. With so much love and so many different levels and kinds, love easily appears to be the central theme of the play from the complex love triangle between Viola, Oliva and Orsino to hinted at homosexual love from Antonio to Sebastion, it is easily the central theme. The first love in the play is Orsino’s love for Olivia.

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Although Orsino has never met Oliva before in his life he claims to be madly in love with her and sends messenger after messenger to tell her of his love.

This uneducated and mostly appearance related love could easily just be infatuation. This could be proven when Orsino quickly asks Viola to marry him as though he never loved Oliva to begin with. Another, but a lot different, example of love in Twelfth Night is the self love Malvolio has for himself. Malvolio only cares about his social rank, becoming a gentleman. Then when he receives the letter from “Olivia” he becomes ecstatic and even says that he will make him the real head of the house rather then just a steward if they marry.

The plans to use Olivia’s love for him as a tool to reach where he wants to be. Another example of love, and probably the most true, is Viola’s love for Orsino. Viola’s love for Orsino is the most true because Viola and Orsino really know eachother. They talk and spend time together, even if they are both “men” they manage to get to know eachother. Also their live seems true because even though she loves Orsino she would go try and “Woo” Oliva so Orsino could be happy. There is also little ways showing love in the play Twelfth Night.

For instance the idea that Antonio loves Sebastian is brought up by the way he speaks to Sebastian and the way he comes to Llyria with him even though he can go to jail. The last example of love is Maria and Toby, we know that Maria’s love is true but whether or not Toby loves her is a mystery. Oliva’s love for Cesario, Toby and Maria, Oliva and Sebastian, “Oliva’s” letter to Malvolio, Viola and Orsino, and Orsino’s love for Oliva easily show that love is a central them in Twelfth Night.

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