Nature Of Love In Twelfth Night

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Twelfth Night, Or What You Will, written by Shakespeare during the Elizabethan era, centers around the convoluted and shifting nature of love. The play makes a point that the ways in which love and affection are expressed and interpreted differ amongst the different social classes. Count Orsino and Lady Olivia, representing the upper class of the nobility, demonstrate their love in grand, impersonal gestures, whereas Viola, whose status is slightly lower, does so in a selfless, more authentic manner. This stark difference in how these two classes perceive love is also seen in how quickly the feelings of Orsino and Olivia change for their love interests once someone new comes along. The nobility has little to no sense of what genuine love is, which is seen in both their frivolous displays of affection and how quickly they are able to fall for someone new.
Orsino, in regards to Olivia, treats love and marriage as if they are only games to entertain himself with. In act one Orsino plays into the notion that women, in his case Olivia, are up for the taking. A common belief that is found in traditional marriage, especially in the upper class, is that women are essentially prizes for men to win. Orsino plays into this by explaining how much Olivia will love him once he wins her because of the strong affection she has for her deceased brother. He learns that Olivia has decided to make a vow to remove herself from society for seven years to mourn her brother’s death, yet Orsino
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