Love and Desire in "Twelfth Night" Essay

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According to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, love is defined as “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties; attraction based on sexual desire; affection and tenderness felt by lovers; affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interest; or an assurance of love.” In William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, three different types of love are experienced: friendship love, true love, and self love. Each character experiences a different type of love, and in some cases it is not what they originally expected. The twisted, yet intriguing love story allows the reader to get lost in each characters emotions and development throughout the play. Many instances of love in the play are overwhelmed with a…show more content…
Despite knowing that Orsino “loves” Olivia, Viola almost immediately falls in love with Orsino. And because Viola is disguised as a man, she cannot show her true feelings for Orsino. After Orsino asks Viola to speak with Olivia and professes his love to her, Viola lets the reader know what she is truly feeling by saying “Yet a barful strife! Whoe’er I woo, myself would be his wife” (Act 1, Scene 4, Line 40). This shows that even though she is willing to help Orsino pursue Olivia, Viola ultimately wants to marry Orsino. Viola’s love for Orsino is revealed again at the end of Act 2, Scene 4. Orsino is asking Viola to try harder in the quest for Olivia and he basically says that there is no love more noble or great as his, so she must love him. Viola then proceeds to say that maybe Olivia doesn’t love him; however, there is “someone” out there that does. She says:
Sooth, but you must.
Say that some lady, as perhaps there is,
Hath for your love as great a pang of heart
As you have for Olivia. You cannot love her;
You tell her so; Must she not then be answered? (Act 2, scene 4, Lines 86-90)

This is Viola confessing her true feelings for Orsino. She is telling him that she is the one who loves him the way he loves Olivia. Viola’s love for Orsino is so deep and she has so much desire that it literally hurts her heart. She then continues to say that her father had a daughter who loved a man, yet she is her father’s
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