Various Types Of Love In Twelfth Night

Analyze Shakespeare’s treatment of various types of love in Twelfth Night

Various Types Of Love In Twelfth Night

Various Types Of Love In Twelfth Night : Every individual has his own way of doing things, and this particular attitude is the only thing which, if portrayed, looks like real. Shakespeare being a fine artist has shown the different types of lovers in their different colours in his play “Twelfth Night”. This play sings the sweetest songs of the lovers. The play is the sweetest and the most delightful comedy, is estimated as a study of love. In fact there is hardly any kind of love which Shakespeare has not dealt with in his play “Twelfth Night”. The play abounds in various types of love which have been finely portrayed by the playwright. Here in the play, apart from others, we find three main characters who are deeply and passionately in love. The most interesting aspect of the treatment of love in this play is that each person presents a different kind of love. The single complex emotion of love takes different shapes due to the difference in the characters.

Now let us discuss Shakespeare’s treatment of various types of love in his “Twelfth Night”—

The Sentimental Love Of Orsino

His love is love-in-idleness sentimental as well as passive. His love feeds upon music, turns pale on a rejection and smiles on the next hope. He himself is a strange kind of lover who asks his servant to woo his beloved. He only speaks beautifully about love, but never does beautifully for love. It seems that his love is that of the poet who always dwells in imaginary towers. A critic has nicely remarked that he is not in love with Olivia, rather he is in love with love. Indeed, this lover loves proxy.

The Aggressive Love Of Olivia

Her love is not only the love of force, but a love which is blind and sensuous. She is a lady of weak character having a flickering temperament. We are told that she is mourning the loss of her beloved brother and even the sky will not see her face for seven long years. A few days after when she meets Viola she puts her veil aside. The moment she feels that she is in love with Cesario [Viola]. She wants him in her own possession. Her love never needs intellect or soul. It is the result of senses and aims at quick satisfaction.

The Conceited Love Of Malvolio

It is only Malvolio’s love which provided greatest humour. The poor fellow is a victim of narcissism. He thinks that “all that look on him love him”. Such love which takes its bring forth from delusion always ends in a locked closet.

The Stupid Love Of Aguecheek

Aguecheek also provides a good quantity of humour. He thinks that the love-goal can be reached by spending money. Though he does not get even a single chance of talking with his beloved, yet he thinks that he is nearing his destination.

The Folly-fallen Love Of Sir Toby

Sir Toby’s tastes do not have any affinity with the tastes of others. He loves wandering, eating, drinking, amusing and befooling. He discerns that Maria is the queen of mischief mongers. He falls in love with her. Therefore, his love is rightly named as folly-fallen love.

The Practical Of Sebastian

His love has been named as a practical love, but it should have been named as opportunistic love. As soon as he finds Olivia at his feet, he picks her up. He talks little and asks little to satisfy his anxieties. He never tries to know the facts, because he is afraid that he should lose a fine wife.

The Ideal Love Of Viola

Her love is the kind of love which Shakespeare always advocates. Since she is the heroine of the play, this type of love was expected from her only. Her love is silent and idolatry. It is based upon devotion and sacrifice. This ideal type of love always has an unshakable confidence in its success and believes in concealment rather than revelation-

“She never told her love, but let concealment, like a worm ‘i th’ bud, feed on her damask cheek.” 

And moreover such love finds satisfaction while it sit :

“And with a green and yellow melancholy
She sat like patience on a monument,
Smiling at grief…”


Though there are various types of love in the play, these different types of love have a common quality. All lovers love at first sight. In the climate of romance, it is the rule that all the lovers shall love at once and love absolutely. Nothing else in this world is to be permitted. One glance at Olivia and no work is expected from Orsino for sometime to come. Olivia succubus in one interview. Viola falls in love with the Duke at first sight. Sebastian falls in love with Olivia at first sight.

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