Twelfth Night Themes/Ideas

love is a disease -both Orsino and Olivia seem to suddenly “catch” love; Orsino wants to rid himself of the sickness while Olivia remarks that she caught the plague after one day;Olivia to portray romantic love as a kind of sickness that strikes people without warning. Love cannot be controlled; instead, it controls people. Olivia’s sudden attraction to Cesario recalls the way Orsino talks about his love for Olivia in the beginning. There, Orsino speaks of love as if it were a sickness that has overcome him. -this reflects common ideas surrounding love during that time
Disguises Like Viola, then, Feste (the fool) wears a kind of disguise: hers disguises her identity as a woman, while his conceals his true intelligence.
Love Triangle -Viola is the only one who understands the entirety of the – complicated love triangle. Orsino loves Olivia, who loves Viola, who in turn loves Orsino—but matters are hardly this simple, because both Orsino and Olivia are mistaken about Viola’s real gender. Viola knows that romantic love, ideally, should lead to marriage. But in this particular triangle, there seems to be no hope of a resolution anywhere. Calling herself a “poor monster”—implying not that she is ugly but rather something not quite human, halfway between man and woman—Viola puts her finger on the problem.
Songs Twelfth Night is full of music, which is linked to romance from Orsino’s command in the play’s very first line: “If music be the food of love, play on” (I.i.1). Most of the songs are sung either by the drunken Sir Toby and Sir Andrew or by Feste the clown, who is a professional singer and entertainer as well as a joker. In Shakespeare’s time, love was often associated with the emotional expressiveness of music, so the love songs in this comedy are quite appropriate.
Malivido vs Maria, Sir Toby, and Sir Andrew The clash between Malvolio on the one hand and Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Maria on the other is a central conflict in Twelfth Night. On the face of things, it does not seem to be Malvolio’s fault that he has to break up their party. After all, the men’s drunken singing in their host’s house in the middle of the night is unquestionably rude. But Twelfth Night is a play that ultimately celebrates chaos—whether it is brought on by romantic ardor, by alcohol, or simply by general enthusiasm—over the straitlaced order that Malvolio represents. The play’s title refers to the Feast of the Epiphany, the twelfth day after Christmas, which in Shakespeare’s England was a time for revelry and even anarchy—a day when servants impersonated their masters, alcohol flowed freely, and all of the customary social hierarchies were turned upside down. The puritanical, order-loving, and pleasure-hating spirit of Malvolio contrasts greatly with this anarchic spirit that flows through Sir Toby and Maria, Feste, and Sir Andrew. Malvolio, we realize, does not merely object to the circumstances of Sir Toby’s revelry—he objects to revelry, music, and alcohol entirely.

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